Am I fearful?

I have been asked several times about whether I am fearful of living in Sri Lanka because of the fighting going on there between the government of Sri Lanka and the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam). The answer is no, not really.

First, I have been assured by friends who are native to Sri Lanka that the risk to Kris and me is small. Second, the US State Department issues travel warnings for Americans traveling abroad and they basically concur with our friends.

The fighting in Sri Lanka is largely confined geographically to the north and (now to a lesser extent) to the east of the island. We will be living in Kandy which is centrally located, away from the contested areas. The LTTE continue to stage isolated bombings outside the areas they control. However, the bombings are mostly aimed at military or political targets, though there have been some recent incidents aimed at civilians. But the LTTE have never targeted foreigners, nor are Americans specifically targeted. So, while it is possible to just be in the wrong place at the wrong time, it would be a fluke if we were killed in a bombing.

If you are interested in learning more, I encourage you to compare the US State Department Travel Warning for Sri Lanka with, say, the British travel warning about travel to the US. It has been suggested that we are more likely to die in an auto accident in Sri Lanka than in a bomb attack since Sri Lankans are considered to be such poor drivers. So I checked this out. About 2000 people die each year in traffic accidents in Sri Lanka, out of a population of 20 million. But this per capita rate is smaller than in the US, which has one of the largest per capita traffic fatality rates in the world.

So it seems quite likely that we will be safer spending the year in Sri Lanka than if we spent the year in Ohio!

Tim

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