- Death toll continues to rise following terror attacks in Sri Lanka
- Sri Lankan Consul General to Dubai and Norther Emirates denounces massacre in his country as an act of terror — with no justification
- Solidarity meeting set on Wednesday at the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Dubai
Dubai: “Sri Lanka is a secular nation and there is no room for religious intolerance. The bloody massacre in the country is an act of terrorism which has no border or religion," said Charitha Yattogoda, Consul General of Sri Lanka, Dubai & Northern Emirates in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.
"We denounce such barbaric acts and pray for the departed souls and those injured in Sunday’s bomb blast,” Yattogoda said adding all Sri Lankan expats have been marked safe as of now.
Yattogoda is organising a solidarity meeting on (Wednesday) at the Consulate General of Sri Lanka in Dubai where Sri Lankan expat community comprising several ethnicities and religious faith will be in full attendance to show they are united in this grief.
"We will have a condolence book kept as we are expecting other consul generals to attend the meeting and offer their solidarity.
“We are shocked and grieving. It has been ten years since we saw this kind of violence in Sri Lanka. In fact it was in May 2009 when we saw the last reported bombing in the country. After that we have lived in peace. The tourism industry has flourished and now this act of terror has really let us down.”
We are shocked and grieving. It has been ten years since we saw this kind of violence in Sri Lanka. In fact it was in May 2009 when we saw the last reported bombing in the country.
As of Tuesday the death toll in Sri Lanka tipped over 310 in addition to over 500 injured. Sri Lankan citizens and foreign nationals have lost their lives. Tomorrow at the meeting the prayers will be for the departed souls and those recouping at various hospitals in Colombo.
300,000 Sri Lankans in the UAE
Yattogoda said there are 300,000 Sri Lankans living in the UAE, of whom 250,000 live in Dubai and Northern Emirates. Rest work in Abu Dhabi.
“I am proud to say we have a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds living in the UAE, especially Singhalese, Tamils, Muslims & Burghers. We also have Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Christians living here."
In the aftermath of the attacks the community is coming together as one.
Yattogoda said several thousands of people are expected to attend a mass on Friday at St. Mary's church in Dubai. “There will be prayers and top on the agenda will be how to tackle terrorism on a global level.”
The diplomat said, the Sri Lankan government is looking at security lapse that led to attacks. “Sprucing security across the country is top priority now,” he added.
“We have a very strong security force and I know the country will soon bounce back to normalcy,” he added.
April is Sri Lanka's peak tourist season
Sri Lanka was ranked top country for travel in 2019 by a travel magazine recently. Better transport links, new hotels and a number of tourist activities were cited as some reasons for this. The country was also picked as the top photographic locale in the world.
"April is one of our peak tourist seasons and it is sad that foreign nationals lost their lives. Tourism has been increasing leaps and bounds. The government will take necessary action soon to rectify the situation. All Sri Lankan expats have been marked safe so far.”