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Sri Lanka’s Economic Nightmare Continues

As fuel shortages plague the country, officials are struggling to secure new supplies.

By , a reporter at Foreign Policy.
People queue up to buy liquefied petroleum gas cylinders.
People queue up to buy liquefied petroleum gas cylinders.
People queue up to buy liquefied petroleum gas cylinders in Colombo, Sri Lanka, on June 5. AFP via Getty Images

Welcome to Morning Brief, where we’re following Sri Lanka’s economic woes, Turkey’s new deal with Finland and Sweden, and a migrant tragedy in Texas.

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Sri Lanka Confronts Fuel Shortages 

Welcome to Morning Brief, where we’re following Sri Lanka’s economic woes, Turkey’s new deal with Finland and Sweden, and a migrant tragedy in Texas.

If you would like to receive Morning Brief in your inbox every weekday, please sign up here.


Sri Lanka Confronts Fuel Shortages 

As Sri Lanka’s economic nightmare continues, the country’s fuel supply is shrinking—and authorities are struggling to cope. 

As fuel shortages plague the country, the government has enacted strict nationwide energy-saving measures while it searches for alternative sources. Just this week, Sri Lankan officials announced that they would ban fuel sales for private vehicles until July 10. To limit fuel use, schools have also been closed and the public has been told to work from home. 

“Sri Lanka has never faced such a severe economic crisis in its history,” Bandula Gunawardana, the cabinet’s spokesperson, told reporters

For months, Sri Lankans have both suffered under and demonstrated against skyrocketing inflation, severe power cuts, and food shortages, which many attribute to the government’s bungled policies and broader economic mismanagement. Aftershocks from the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have only compounded these challenges, and the government defaulted on its foreign debt for the first time in May. 

The roots of this crisis date back more than a decade, as journalist Devana Senanayake reported in Foreign Policy in April. In 2009, Sri Lankan authorities received new loans for infrastructure projects, she wrote, but they didn’t have enough money to pay them back after a number of economic shocks.

Now, ordinary citizens are the ones paying the price. “The price of petrol is my husband’s daily earnings. Words fail me when I have to describe the daily expenses,” a woman named Champika told Senanayake. “We find it hard to source money for even one meal.”

As the situation deteriorates, the government has been scrambling to find workaround solutions. On Tuesday, an official traveled to Qatar in a bid to secure a new energy agreement; this weekend, another minister is scheduled to visit Russia. Separately, the government has also been discussing a possible multibillion-dollar bailout with the International Monetary Fund

But given the country’s current economic state, developing new partnerships may prove difficult.

“We are struggling to find suppliers. They are reluctant to accept letters of credit from our banks,” Sri Lankan Energy Minister Kanchana Wijesekera said on Sunday. “We are doing everything we can to get new stocks, but we don’t know when that will be.”


What We’re Following Today

Finland and Sweden inch closer to NATO membership. Turkey, Finland, and Sweden have inked a deal that effectively clears a path for the two Nordic countries’ accession into NATO. The agreement breaks what was a significant diplomatic deadlock, FP’s Jack Detsch, Amy Mackinnon, and Robbie Gramer report, and it “heads off a potential protracted fight over Finland’s and Sweden’s membership that Western officials feared could drag out for months.”

Afterward, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg commended the agreement. “Finnish and Swedish membership of NATO is good for Finland and Sweden, it is good for NATO, and it is good for European security,” he said in a statement.

Texas migrant tragedy. U.S. officials have charged two individuals, Juan Francisco D’Luna-Bilbao and Juan Claudio D’Luna-Mendez, in relation to the deaths of 51 migrants found inside a truck in Texas. Authorities reportedly used the truck’s registration to identify and locate both suspects before surveilling them at their residence. They were later charged with possessing weapons while illegally staying in the United States.

“They had families … and were likely trying to find a better life,” Ron Nirenberg, mayor of San Antonio, said after the migrants were found. “It’s nothing short of a horrific, human tragedy.”


Keep an Eye On 

Israel’s abortion law. Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade, Israel has moved to relax restrictions in its abortion law. The country will now include abortion pills in its universal health care and will no longer require women to receive approval from a committee to receive an abortion.

“The move by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny a woman the right to her body is a dark move,” Israeli Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz said in a statement. “We are somewhere else, and we are making great strides in the right direction today.”

Reviving the Iran nuclear deal? U.S. and Iranian diplomats touched down in Qatar on Tuesday to restart indirect nuclear talks, though no major breakthroughs are expected. The talks—the first since the last round broke down in March—will be mediated by Enrique Mora, the European Union’s negotiator. 


Odds and Ends 

As towns in Italy grapple with an acute drought, one mayor has instituted a unique water conservation measure—and run afoul of local hairdressers. Under new guidelines, any salon that is caught double-shampooing clients’ hair, and thereby using extra water to rinse, will face a fine of up to 500 euros (or around $524).

Some hairdressers have balked at the order. “It seems a bit ridiculous,” Katia of the Nuova Equipe hairdressers told the Guardian. “It’s difficult not to be able to wash and rinse twice, as some of the products we use requires it, and also types of hair, especially if the customer’s hair is quite dirty.”

Christina Lu is a reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @christinafei

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