Sri Lanka Crisis Update: Shortages Loom, Some Help On The Way

Sri Lanka is girding for potential shortages of food products and fuel in the near future. Citizens have been lining up for cooking gas, automobile fuel since Friday. As the government attempts to stave off complete economic meltdown, the nation has defaulted on debt for the first time in its history. So, much to the chagrin of Sri Lanka’s leaders, the economic outlook remains bleak as the government lifts the state of emergency decree that has been in place since early May. The state of emergency went into effect as a result of violent street protests and riots in Colombo and across the country in late April and early May. The root cause of the unrest was spiraling inflation and other factors of the nation’s economic crisis.

India and Japan will provide emergency relief to the island-nation in a bid to stave off a complete collapse. The first ship laden with food and other material will depart from India on Wednesday. Japan will provide an emergency grant for $3 million worth of medicine and food. These moves also have geopolitical purpose as both nations would prefer to keep Chinese involvement in the Sri Lankan crisis at bay. Tokyo and New Delhi are wary about offering an opening for China to expand its presence and influence in the Indian Ocean region.

Sri Lanka In Crisis

Public anger and frustration is threatening to boil over in Sri Lanka amid a growing economic crisis that has greatly diminished the standard of living and now threatens to unseat the current government. Sri Lankans are defying the present state of emergency which bans public gathering and protests. Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa declared the emergency on Saturday, hoping to prevent the large-scale demonstrations that were scheduled for today (Sunday, 3 April, 2022). Along with restricting public movement and imposing a curfew, internet access was also severely limited, a move that has caused dissent within the Sri Lankan government.

The government’s heavy-handed moves come in response to a demonstration involving thousands of people outside Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s home in Colombo. The protest began peacefully but turned violent when security forces used tear gas and water cannons on the crowd. Demonstrators responded by throwing rocks and setting fire to vehicles used by the security forces. Over fifty demonstrators were arrested, and two dozen security officers suffered injuries.

The root cause of the present situation is the government’s handling of the worst economic crisis to hit the island nation in decades. Conditions have been going downhill for some time owing to a combination of events and circumstances that started with the Easter Sunday bombings of 2019. Those attacks, which killed over 250 people, hit Sri Lanka’s tourism-reliant economy very hard. Next came the COVID-19 pandemic which placed heavy pressure on the currency. Along with a host of other factors, these landmark events have combined to produce a situation where Sir Lankans find it increasingly difficult to purchase fuel, medicine and other essential goods.

All eyes are now on Gotabaya Rajapaksa and the government. How the nation’s leaders react to public defiance of the curfew and state of emergency will determine what the next phase of the crisis will bring. Already, many politicians from parties in Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s governing coalition are starting to grow antsy. Calls that he appoint a caretaker government that represents all eleven parties represented in parliament are growing louder. The Sri Lanka Freedom Party, a coalition member, announced on Friday that it will leave the coalition unless Rajapaksa takes measures to “alleviate the economic crisis, after which an election must be called for.”

Ukraine Update 23 February, 2022 (Afternoon)

Ukraine is in the midst of another round of cyberattacks this afternoon. Earlier today around 4 PM, Kiev Time, a massive denial of service (DDoS) attack targeting government ministries and banks began. As of now, a number of government websites remain offline and there has been no comment identifying exactly which banks have been affected. Naturally, Russian involvement in the attack is suspected.

The cyberattacks came not long after media reports surfaced claiming US intelligence is expecting a full-scale Russian invasion to commence within 48 hours. Newsweek broke the story initially, adding that the Biden administration has relayed this information directly to Ukraine’s president. An unnamed US official also told Newsweek that there have been violations of Ukrainian airspace today for short periods of time, possibly by Russian combat aircraft. This would fit the assessment of a major attack coming within 48 hours, as last minute air reconnaissance sorties would be launched regularly in the final days leading up to the attack.

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Russian naval activity in the Black Sea and especially in the Mediterranean is being scrutinized carefully at this hour as well. The Russian Navy has two surface action groups (SAG), each one centered around a Slava class cruiser operating in close proximity to NATO carrier groups in the Mediterranean. A third SAG, is also underway in the Black Sea, positioned either to support a Russian amphibious landing against Odessa, or launch anti-ship missile attacks against any NATO carrier group that enters the Aegean Sea. The Mediterranean is a restrictive, tight waterway, especially east of Sicily. The first few hours of a Russia-NATO conflict would turn the eastern half of the Med into a shooting gallery.

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A state of emergency will take effect in Ukraine at midnight, 24 February, 2022. “Across the territory of our country, apart from Donetsk and Luhansk, a state of emergency will be introduced,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, told reporters Wednesday in Kiev. Ukraine’s parliament is expected to approve the measure within the next day or so. A state of emergency declaration will allow additional protection for public facilities, restrictions on traffic, and additional transport and document checks.

Spain and Italy Speed Up COVID Emergency Measures

With COVID-19 infections rising considerably, the Spanish government has declared a national state of emergency and is moving to impose a nighttime curfew. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has said the curfew will run from 11:00 PM until 6:00 AM every night, and will start on Sunday evening. The emergency measures also coming into effect will include travel restrictions between districts and regions should regional leaders deem them to be necessary. Private and public gatherings will be limited to six people. These measures will be applied to all national region in Spain with the exception of the Canary Islands. This state of emergency, and the measures included in it are nearly identical to the one introduced during the first wave of the pandemic in April.

Meanwhile in Italy, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has insisted there will not be a new nationwide lockdown even though COVID cases are rising significantly in his country. The government is adopting stricter measures. All bars and restaurants must close by 6 PM. Gyms, movie theaters, and swimming pools will close down and Conti urged Italians not to leave their immediate area unless for work, school, or health reasons.

Italy and Spain were hit hard by COVID-19 in the spring. The other day it appeared both countries, as well as others on the continent are moving towards stricter restrictions as the number of cases is rising. Over the past 24 hours the pace of those restrictions taking effect has sped up in Southern Europe, leaving one to wonder how long it will be until other parts of Europe follow suit.

Monday 22 January, 2018 Update: State of Emergency in Jamaica

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When most people think of Jamaica they envision pristine white beaches, clear ocean water, and the warm Caribbean sunshine in ample supply. Little, if any, thought is given to the vicious underbelly of the tropical paradise. Jamaica is an island where violent crime is a way of life in many of the island’s poorest neighborhoods. Recently, however, there has been a surge in the number of violent crimes in the St. James Parish area. This section of the island includes Montego Bay and resorts. The increase in violence forced Jamaica’s Prime Minister Alex Holness to declare a state of emergency for St James Parish last Thursday. Martial law has been declared in the area, while military and security forces have moved in. Checkpoints have been set up, and patrols are moving through the streets.

After the declaration was made, Canada and Great Britain issued warnings to their citizens on the island, advising them to exercise caution. The US State Department issued advisories earlier in the month and has suggested that US citizens not venture outside of the resort compounds that they’re staying at.

This is not the first time Jamaica has been forced to declare a state of emergency because of criminal activity. The 2010 Kingston Unrest that followed the attempted extradition of Jamaican drug lord Christopher Coke, lasting for a month. Over 700 people were arrested and 70 civilians killed. The current state of emergency is unlikely to spiral into the same sort of long term unrest, but the simple fact something similar is happening again raises questions about the nation’s stability.

The stability of some Caribbean islands and possessions was put to the test during Hurricane Irma’s jaunt through the region in September, 2017, and the results were anything but encouraging. Storm damage severely damaged the infrastructure in Saint Martin and led to food and water shortages. Reports of violence and looting led to the dispatch of French and Dutch troops. British law enforcement officers, and a small number of troops were deployed into affected British Overseas Territories where order had to be restored.