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As Sri Lanka’s economic crisis worsens, Australians are desperate to get family over for ‘a bit of relief’

Power outages for six to eight hours a day, waiting in queues for several hours for groceries, petrol and medicine – hoping there will be enough supply at the end of the line.

This is what everyday life looks like for Rizan Rizvi’s family in Sri Lanka as the country faces its worst economic crisis in more than 70 years.

Mr Rizvi told the ABC Sri Lankans in Australia had been limited in what they could do to support family due to COVID-19 border closures, but now a “recent trend” had emerged.

“Given the current situation in Sri Lanka, we need some quick interim solutions,” he said.

Getting permanent visas for family members is a lengthy and difficult process, so many people are trying to give loved ones “a bit of relief” on visitor visas. These can range from three to 12 months.

A crowd of people jostle to get closer to a person handing out packets of biscuits
People are given packets of biscuits while waiting in line to buy oil in the capital Colombo amid the country’s economic crisis.(Reuters: Dinuka Liyanawatte)

Mr Rizvi’s 38-year-old sister and 65-year-old mum arrived in Sydney two weeks ago.

It’s the first time they have seen each other since before the pandemic.

“It was quite emotional meeting them in person,” he said.

‘It’s not sustainable’

The country was plunged into crisis over a year ago and recently shortages of basic supplies have become critical.


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