Many Maldivian families residing in Sri Lanka have returned to the country due to the tense situation in Lanka following the terrorist attacks that took place on Easter Sunday.
The death toll of the suicide bombings which targeted churches and hotels is currently at 253, with over 500 injured. Over 150 arrests have been made in relation to the attacks, and authorities are still searching for suspects linked to the bombings.
While safety measures are being set in place, some of the steps taken include those targeted for the Muslim community only. Hijab can only been worn exposing the ears, while wearing niqab has been banned completely in Sri Lanka.
Some Maldivians living in Lanka reported to local media Mihaaru that they were living in fear since the terror attacks. One stated that stepping outside wearing hijab resulted in doubtful looks.
"If they know of a Muslim residence they even report and make the police inspect the house", they said.
The safety measures taken by Lankan authorities do not specifically target Maldivians. However, homes of Maldivians have been inspected and two were recently arrested over uncovering a book related to Islamic State in their residence. The two have been remanded until May 13.
Due to the situation in Lanka, many families have already temporarily shifted back to Maldives.
"Some have even left to Maldives permanently. Some are leaving to come back when the situation settles down", said a Maldivian currently in Lanka.
All the schools and universities in Sri Lanka have been closed until May 6 due to the terror attacks on April 21.
Approximately 13,000 Maldivians reside in Sri Lanka for educational, medical and other purposes. The Maldivian embassy established in Sri Lanka has been providing assistance for them in any difficult situations that arise. Moreover, the embassy advised Maldivians to cooperate with authorities and stay indoors as well as keep passports and identification ready in case of an inspection.
The Maldivian embassy in Sri Lanka can be contacted via the hotlines +0768816666, +0766086660 and +0764189900 for consular services.