Travel Advice

Travel Advice

If you need to travel to these hot spots, I would strongly suggest you skim through the list and serve yourself to some timely and actionable security information:

Afghanistan Travel Advice

At least seven people, including two local UN workers, were killed and 50 others injured on August 18 in a suicide car-bomb attack that targeted a convoy of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) on Jalalabad Road (which connects Kabul and Jalalabad), east of the capital Kabul. Several government and NATO vehicles were damaged in the explosion. The incident took place within hours of rocket attacks that hit the presidential palace and the Afghan National Police headquarters in Kabul, causing minor structural damage and no injuries. The Taleban subsequently claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks. The security forces on the previous day impounded a truck carrying explosives near Kabul International Airport (KBL) and arrested the driver and an associate. Roads in the vicinity of KBL were temporarily closed following the incident.

Kidnappings of foreign nationals for political and criminal reasons take place with relative frequency in Afghanistan, with militants seizing expatriate workers and foreigners as a means of exerting pressure on Western governments and companies to withdraw from ongoing development and security projects in the country. Civilian foreign personnel and local nationals linked to foreign organizations are potential targets for opportunistic execution or abduction by extremists, including in Kabul.

 

  • Essential travel to major cities in Afghanistan can continue, but personnel who are flexible in their travel arrangements may wish to consider postponing travel into and out of Kabul until after the election cycle, because of a heightened risk of security incidents during the cycle and limitations placed on normal business activity by Ramadan. If undertaking essential travel to Kabul during the election cycle, minimize movement outside secure accommodation.
  • There are persistent and significant risks of kidnapping and terrorist attacks by Islamist militants. Minimize time spent in the vicinity of potential targets, both stationary and in transit. Be alert to suspicious behavior and signs of surveillance and vary routines and timings as much as possible.
  • Personnel are reminded to remain patient and co-operate with all security directives and are advised to carry all relevant documentation with them at all times.
  • Travel to major cities in Afghanistan should be for essential purposes only. We advise against travel outside major cities. If travel to Afghanistan is essential, seek professional security support and ensure you are fully briefed on the prevailing threats prior to deployment.
  • There is a persistent and significant risk of kidnap or terrorist attack by Islamist militants. Potential targets include governmental, diplomatic, security, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations’’ personnel and assets, Individual travelers, including Muslims, may be targeted. Areas with high-density civilian populations are also targeted; these include shopping areas and road traffic choke points. Minimize time spent in the vicinity of potential targets, both stationary and in transit. Maintain awareness for suspicious behavior or signs of surveillance and vary routines and timings as much as possible.
  • Prior to travel carefully consider and plan accommodation, transport, communications and itinerary options in the context of prevailing threats.
  • Overland travel should be avoided where possible; air is the safest and most efficient means of travel between cities. If cross-country travel is unavoidable, a government security escort is mandatory and full journey planning and management essential.
  • This list is not exhaustive; refer to other sources on this site for further advice.

Algeria Travel Advice:

A local entrepreneur on July 3 was freed after being abducted ten days previously by an armed group near the Boghni municipality (Tizi Ouzou province, Kabylie region). In a separate incident in the region, a local media report on 5 July stated that a militant organization had seized a construction company executive in Béjaïa province, with the aim of using the hostage as a bargaining tool to secure the release of imprisoned extremists.

Arrest of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb militants in Algiers highlights credible risk to cities, despite trend of attacks in northern extremist strongholds

  • Travel to Algeria is possible with stringent security planning; independent travel is inadvisable.
  • Travel outside major cities and southern oil-producing regions should be for essential purposes only. Essential travel to these areas should be undertaken only with stringent security measures in place that incorporate the advice of professional security advisers and the local authorities.
  • Minimize non-essential road travel outside urban areas due to the risks posed by banditry and Islamist extremist groups. If overland travel is essential, good journey planning and management are necessary. Particular consideration should be given to alternative means of communication. Be aware that a security-forces escort is a regulatory requirement in most areas; prearrange this well in advance of travel.
  • Maintain heightened awareness of your surroundings; take the risk of terrorism into account when determining your choice of accommodation and report suspicious behavior to the authorities.
  • There is a credible risk of further terrorist attacks in by Islamist extremists in Algeria; both large-scale ‘spectacular’ and small-scale opportunistic attacks are possible. Likely targets include government and security force personnel and assets, Western embassies, personnel and commercial interests, and international non-governmental organizations. Maintain heightened awareness of your surroundings; take the risk of terrorism into account when determining your choice of accommodation, and report suspicious behavior to the authorities.

Angola Travel Advice:

A Portuguese expatriate on July 5 was killed in an attempted robbery in Viana, a suburb located east of the capital Luanda. The victim was fatally shot by two assailants while he was waiting at the roadside in his car.

Despite an increase since 2006 in incidents of assaults and muggings targeting foreigners, violent crime is mainly directed at locals and the murder of a foreign national is unusual. Petty and opportunistic crime, including theft of and from cars, bag-snatching and pickpocketing, represent the main security concern for business travelers and expatriates in Luanda. Suburban musseques (shanty towns) such as Viana, Rosh Pinta, Cazenga, Maianga, Bairro Populare and Combatantes, have higher rates of criminal activity and should be avoided where possible.

On February 12 2004, a British national was found murdered in his room at the Avenida hotel in Luanda. On the same day, an Indian businessman was also found dead in his room in the city’s Meridien Presidente hotel. In a separate incident that year, a Portuguese national was killed in the capital.

Crime in the country is driven by several factors, including a proliferation of arms, widespread poverty, and high levels of unemployment and generally worsening economic conditions. While there is a heavy police presence in the areas of Luanda where most foreigners work and stay, a lack of adequate training and widespread corruption in the police force often impede their effectiveness.

  • Take stringent precautions to mitigate the risk of petty and violent crime and minimize non-essential movement after dark. Do not travel on foot after dark.
  • The use of firearms is common; in the event of being accosted, assume that your assailant is armed and do nothing to resist or antagonize the attacker.

Cameroon Travel Advice:

According to media reports, five Chinese nationals were kidnapped on 6 July from a fishing trawler off the Bakassi peninsula, on the border with Nigeria.

The latest incident highlights the persistent risk of kidnapping by highly organized criminal or militant groups in the region. It also raises concerns over increasing levels of politically driven militancy since Nigeria in mid-2008 handed the oil-rich and long-disputed Bakassi peninsula over to Cameroon; the travel risks in Bakassi remain HIGH.

While most security incidents in the Gulf of Guinea have focused on the restive Niger delta region (Nigeria), Cameroon has also witnessed several abductions of foreign nationals. Militants in March attacked an oil supply vessel off the coast of Bakassi and kidnapped its crew, which included three Filipinos and one Ukrainian. Earlier, a group called the Bakassi Freedom Fighters (BFF) in October 2008 abducted ten oil workers, including six French nationals, from an oil vessel off the coast of Cameroon; they were released unharmed almost two weeks later.

  • Seek itinerary-specific advice prior to travel to the Bakassi peninsula due to the risks posed by sporadic conflict.
  • To mitigate the risk of kidnapping, restrict non-essential movement outside secure locations; undertake travel by road in daylight hours using secure escorts and good journey management; and for long distances, travel by air where possible.

China Travel Advice:

Chongqing municipal authorities today reported that they have made more than 1,500 arrests in the recent organized crime crackdown campaign, with hundreds of other suspects on the wanted list. Wen Qiang, the Chongqing municipal justice bureau chief, was arrested in early August and is currently under investigation for organized crime links, among other charges.

  • The month-long crackdown highlights the security risks that organized crime poses to businesses. Triads in Chongqing were reported to be operating most extensively in taxi companies, farm-product markets and the construction industry, among others. Apart from causing general security concerns among the public, triads were also found to be targeting businesses for extortion 
     
  • Organized crime is largely linked to official government corruption, and is therefore difficult to uproot. The recently arrested officials in the justice and public security bureaus in Guangdong and Chongqing were found to maintain close relationships with top gang figures and take bribes from them. Despite the central government’s efforts to crack down on organized crime, local enforcement has been, and will remain, patchy. 
     
  • Top foreign investment destinations such as Shanghai, the capital Beijing and other developed eastern provinces are generally free from the influence of organized crime. The worst-affected regions include north-eastern and western inland provinces, and Guangdong province. Gang-related extortion has previously been reported to have affected foreign investors, especially in Guangdong, but Chinese businesses remain the most frequent targets. 
     
  • Overall, security risks in China remain LOW; labor unrest and business disputes remain the top security concerns for foreign businesses. Although local law-enforcement efforts are patchy because of the vested interests that local officials often have in such gangs, the central government has been effective in containing organized criminal activities, despite using ad hoc campaigns rather than consistent crackdowns.

Sometimes violent labor protests, other workplace security concerns have also been highlighted amid the economic downturn over the past year. Violent attacks including bombings and stabbings have been reported on several occasions, though a disproportionate number of incidents occur in the manufacturing heartland of Guangdong province. Businesses should employ effective security measures against potential violent incidents caused by labor or business disputes. 

Chongqing is one of four province-status municipalities in China, and has a population of more than 30m. It is regarded as an important investment destination in western China, with a flourishing economy. However, organized crime activities in Chongqing have caused persistently high crime rates. Wen, who was formerly at the public security bureau, was reported to have extensive connections with local gangs and to provide protection for their illegal activities in return for corrupt payments.

The crackdown campaign, supported by the central government, started by transferring Wen to the less hands-on municipal justice bureau. However, Wen was detained at the beginning of August along with a number of other high-level officers in the public security bureau. By 14 August, police had detained 1,544 gang suspects, including 67 gang bosses, and frozen Rmb1.53bn ($224m) in gang funds.
 

  • Given the difficulty of maintaining a comprehensive and current picture of the situation on the ground, the occurrence of additional incidents today and uncertainty about the risk of further violence, clients whose travel arrangements are flexible may wish to consider postponing business travel to Urumqi that cannot be conducted remotely or in an alternative location, until it is evident the security forces have all areas of the city under control.
  • Personnel undertaking travel to Urumqi in the coming days should ensure that they are fully briefed on the situation and confident in their transport and accommodation arrangements prior to travel. In the event of serious unrest, the airport may be vulnerable to disruption; liaise with your airline on the status of your flight prior to departure.
  • Personnel should avoid travel on foot during periods of heightened tensions and undertake travel only in a private vehicle with a trusted driver. Self-driving is not advisable.
  • Areas where unrest is occurring are likely to be cordoned off by the security forces; however, as a precautionary measure, liaise with your hosts, driver or hotel staff on arrival to ascertain that routes are clear prior to undertaking overland travel.
  • Carry identification at all times for use at security force checkpoints. Be aware of the increased sensitivity of the security forces; do not carry a camera and treat the members of the security forces you encounter with patience and respect. Do not try to cross security force cordons without the express permission of the authorities.
  • Avoid all demonstrations to mitigate the risk of exposure to potential clashes between protesters and the police. Foreigners are unlikely to be directly targeted in any unrest; however, the violence poses significant incidental risks. Liaise closely with your hosts, hotel staff and local contacts on the timing and location of scheduled protests.
  • In the event of encountering unrest, vacate the area immediately, and where possible to do so safely, return to your accommodation and remain there until the situation stabilizes.

Congo (DRC) Travel Advice

A spokesperson for the UN Mission in the Congo (MONUC) on 23 July reported that at least 24 people were killed on July 20-21, when members of the Rwandan Hutu militia, the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR), attacked Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of Congo (FARDC) base in the east of the country. The attack occurred in the village of Hombo, on the border of North and South Kivu provinces, 53 miles (85km) north-west of South Kivu’s provincial capital Bukavu. At least 16 civilians, along with three FARDC soldiers and five FDLR rebels, were killed in the clashes, which began at 23.00 (local time) and continued until 06.00 the following day. The FARDC reportedly captured nine FDLR rebels following the incident.

  • Travel to rural areas of South Kivu province requires security planning and support, and liaison with the local authorities.
  • Avoid all travel to North Kivu province in light of the escalation of fighting in the area.
  • Carefully plan all aspects of your journey. Ensure that you are confident in your accommodation, transport and security arrangements, and are fully briefed on the prevailing risks and necessary security measures prior to travel. Ensure that you know what to do in the event of a medical emergency or security incident.
  • Be aware that a low-level and localised conflict persists and a periodic escalation is possible. Register with your embassy and all relevant warden networks prior to travel; ensure that you receive regular updates prior to and during travel.

Colombia Travel Advice:

Media reports on August 10 indicated that suspected members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) left-wing guerrilla group on the previous day killed two police officers and injured two others in an ambush in the village of La Chonta, in the El Doncello municipality of the southern Caquetá department. According to the police, the rebels activated a roadside bomb upon the patrol’s passage, before firing on police officers.

The ambush underlines the continuing risk posed by attacks carried out by guerrilla groups such as the FARC in Colombia. While they are unlikely to target foreigners, such bombings and ambushes pose an incidental risk to business travelers and expatriates. The military is likely to launch intensified operations against rebels in the region, which in turn raises the likelihood of reprisal attacks; however, military personnel and installations are expected to remain the insurgents’ primary targets. Guerrilla activity is concentrated in remote rural areas, where travel risks are rated as HIGH. However, ultra-leftist guerrilla groups such as the FARC also have the capability to carry out attacks in major cities on a sporadic basis.

A bombing on June 30 at a gasoline station in the south of the capital Bogotá killed one person and injured five others.

  • Avoid non-essential travel to areas of high guerrilla activity, including the south-west of Antioquia department, most of Arauca department and rural areas of Caquetá, Huila, Nariño, Meta, Chocó and Putumayo departments.
  • Avoid unnecessary overland travel outside major urban areas. Necessary overland travel should only be undertaken after seeking itinerary-specific advice, in daylight hours, in convoy and after ascertaining that the route remains secure immediately prior to departure.
  • Take stringent security precautions in both rural and urban areas to mitigate the risk of being kidnapped by guerrillas. Vary routines, be vigilant for signs of surveillance and travel in a modest vehicle.
  • Be alert to suspicious behavior and report any suspect packages to the authorities.

Guatemala Travel Advice:

The police on August 14 rescued an Egyptian national following a shoot-out with his kidnappers in the capital Guatemala City, during which a police officer and one of the perpetrators were injured. A second kidnapper was also arrested. Meanwhile in San José (Escuintla department), approximately 52 miles (84km) south-west of the capital, a kidnapper was killed and his two accomplices were arrested during a security operation to rescue a local woman who had been abducted the previous day.

The incidents underline the persistent risk of kidnapping in the country. Kidnaps-for-ransom and short-term ‘express’ abductions occur frequently, especially in Guatemala City. While criminal gangs mainly target the local business community, anyone who may be perceived as being wealthy is vulnerable. The risk of falling victim to this type of crime increases after daylight hours. 

Local media reports indicate that at least seven kidnapping gangs are active in Guatemala department, which comprises the capital, as well as in Escuintla, Suchitepéquez and Quetzaltenango departments. The incidence of kidnapping has also increased in the departments of San Marcos, Totonicapán, Jutiapa, Izabal, Petén and Baja Verapaz. Official reports indicate that 116 kidnappings were reported throughout the country between January and July, representing a 39% increase compared with the same period in 2008.

The deterioration in Guatemala’s security environment in recent years has been attributed to the proliferation of weapons, the activities of youth gangs, an increase in drug-related crime and the presence of transnational drug cartels. Rising unemployment and poverty have further fuelled criminal activity. Although the government has introduced several measures in an effort to tackle crime, their impact on the security environment has largely been negligible. The effective implementation of anti-crime measures is hindered by high levels of corruption within law enforcement agencies and the inefficacy of the judicial system; these deficiencies make any substantial improvement in the security environment unlikely in the coming months.

  • To mitigate the risk of ‘express’ kidnapping, be alert to suspicious behavior, especially in the vicinity of banks and avoid withdrawing money from automated teller machines (ATMs) in exposed areas after dark.
  • Kidnap-for-ransom is also a risk, more so for longer-term visitors and residents. Expatriates are advised to vary routines, choose a modest model of vehicle and maintain vigilance for signs of surveillance.
  • Victims have been abducted from vehicles or near quiet traffic junctions; do not drive with the windows open.
  • Personnel in Guatemala City are advised to restrict their activities to Zones 9 and 10, which are the main business and hotel areas, as well as central Zone 1. These are affected by high levels of crime but have a greater and more visible police presence.
  • In the event of being accosted by criminals, assume that your assailants are armed; do not resist or antagonize them. 

Haiti Travel Advice

Workers and students on August 11 renewed demonstrations in the capital Port-au-Prince to demand that the government approve minimum wage legislation. The protesters attempted to enter Sonapi industrial park near the city’s Toussaint Louverture International Airport (PAP) and clashed with the police near the Delmas police station; one police officer was injured. The demonstrators also threw rocks and other projectiles that damaged several vehicles, including one belonging to a US diplomat.

  • Travel to Haiti should be for essential purposes only.
  • If travel to Haiti is essential, ensure that you are fully confident in your security, transport and accommodation arrangements and briefed on the prevailing risks prior to deployment. Seek professional security support for the duration of your visit if insufficient or unknown security support is provided by your host.
  • Avoid all protests as they often descend into violence – do not stop to watch or photograph them. Be aware that widespread unrest can be triggered with little or no notice. Monitor developments closely during your stay, utilizing local contacts and all available warden networks.
  • Monitor the local media and our website for further developments.

Honduras Travel Advice

The Air Transport Company of the American Continent (TACA) on August 7 suspended 13 domestic and international flights, following the commencement of an indefinite strike earlier the same day by the National Meteorological Service (SMN). The strike has been called to demand the reinstatement of ousted president Manuel Zelaya as well as to demand an increase in salaries. Domestic flights from San Pedro Sula, Tegucigalpa, Roatán and La Ceiba have been affected by the flight cancellations; international flight from these airports to Grand Cayman, El Salvador, Guatemala and Miami (US) have also been disrupted. The strike will only affect large aircraft; all airports remain open for use by smaller, predominantly private aircraft whose instruments are not affected by the loss of meteorological information provided by the SMN. Additionally, Zelaya’s supporters on August 5 began two separate protest marches to Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula; the marchers are expected to reach both cities on 10 August. 

The overall security situation in Honduras remains relatively calm, and the resumption of talks could lead to a slight improvement in the situation. The failure of the latest round of negotiations is unlikely to lead to widespread political unrest. However, reports of large turnouts at pro-Zelaya demonstrations in the capital Tegucigalpa and other parts of the country highlight the considerable popular support still enjoyed by the deposed president; the planned strikes on July 23 and 24 are also likely to be widely observed. Roadblocks and demonstrations can be expected to be staged during the industrial action, leading to travel disruption in affected areas; the presidential residence and other key government buildings remain the most likely locations for such rallies in Tegucigalpa. The security forces have in the recent past demonstrated a willingness to employ robust measures to tackle demonstrations, including the use of tear gas, water cannon and batons. There is also a chance of isolated clashes between rival political activists in cities across the country if counter-demonstrations are held simultaneously and in close proximity. Business travelers and expatriates face an incidental risk during such gatherings because of the risk that they will turn violent.

  • Reconfirm all flights to and from Toncontín International Airport (TGU), Ramón Villeda Morales International Airport (SAP), Golosón International Airport (LCE) and Juan Manuel Gálvez de Roatán Interntaional Airport (RTB).
  • In-country personnel are advised to keep a low profile until the situation becomes clearer. They should adhere to all curfews and restrictions, and carry personal identification on their person to ease passage through checkpoints.
  • Avoid all demonstrations to mitigate the risk of exposure to incidental violence.
  • Carry personal identification at all times to ease passage through checkpoints
  • Monitor the local media and our website for further updates on the current situation, which is not seen as an immediate risk to foreign travelers.
  • Travelers scheduled to fly into or out of TGU should contact the relevant airline to check the status of their flight, and make alternative travel arrangements where possible. When the facility reopens and where arriving at or departing from TGU is necessary, personnel are advised to anticipate large crowds and possible disruption to services, as well as a credible risk of clashes between rival supporters.

India Travel Advice

The issues have triggered numerous protests and clashes in the past few weeks. At least 20 people were injured on July 3 when the police forcefully dispersed protesters in Srinagar. Previously, thousands of people on July 1 participated in violent demonstrations in Baramulla and Sopore in defiance of a curfew. At least ten people were injured on June 26 during clashes with the security forces near Shopian during a demonstration staged in opposition to the killings and the arrest of leaders of the HC. Prior to this, more than 40 people were injured on June 19 in clashes between protesters and the security forces in various parts of the Kashmir valley, during rallies over the Shopian murders.

The travel risks in Jammu and Kashmir are rated as HIGH and thousands of military and paramilitary personnel remain deployed to the restive northern state. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international human rights bodies have reported incidents of torture, rape and crime against local women, allegedly committed by the security forces and militant groups.

  • Avoid non-essential travel to Jammu city and Srinagar in Jammu and Kashmir. Normal travel by air to the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir can continue; avoid the Srinagar-Leh road route.
  • Keep abreast of and observe curfew hours.
  • Avoid all political gatherings to mitigate the risk of incidental exposure to violence.
  • Travelers should allow additional time for journeys between major cities in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Monitor the local media and our website to remain apprised of developments.

 

Indonesia Travel Advice:

Unconfirmed reports on August 6 indicated that several Western hotels and businesses in the capital Jakarta had been identified as possible targets for terror attacks between August 5 and 17. Further details are unavailable at this time and there is no way to independently corroborate the credibility of the alleged threat. The authorities are currently determining the veracity of the information. Earlier that day, the Danamon Bank building in the Mega Kuningan district of Jakarta was evacuated after the technical unit of the premises received a bomb threat via a text message (SMS). Bomb squads were deployed to sweep the building but no explosive devices were found.

There continues to be a steady flow of alleged terror threats and security alerts in the country following the July 17 attacks at the JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in Jakarta. However, these threats have turned out to be false alarms or hoaxes and do not indicate an increased risk of terrorism in the country; terrorism continues to pose a medium risk to business travelers and expatriates.

There is a credible likelihood of another terror attack, particularly in Jakarta or Bali, but trend analysis of previous Jemaah Islamiyah (the regional militant Islamist group believed to be behind the July 17 attacks) activity indicates that such attacks are not likely in the near term and are more likely to occur months or even one year out. In the previous terror campaign by JI from 2002 to 2005, there were often long intervals between attacks, with bombings occurring between ten and 13 months after the previous one, highlighting the amount of planning and co-ordination often required between attacks. Despite setbacks, JI and elements of the group remain active and their ideology has not changed. Strong supporters of Islamic rule and jihad (holy war), they continue to call for attacks against any enemy of Islam, with a continued focus on Western targets. 

JI, which seeks to establish an independent Islamic state in South-east Asia, is suspected to have links to al-Qaida. The last major terrorist attack in Indonesia took place in October 2005, when three suicide bombers, thought to be linked to JI, struck in the tourist areas of Jimbaran and Kuta on Bali, killing at least 20 people and injuring 129 others. JI in September 2004 attacked the Australian embassy in Jakarta, while 12 people were killed and 150 injured in a JI bombing in August 2003, which notably also targeted the JW Marriott hotel in Jakarta. The 2003 bombing reflected a clear intent to cause mass casualties at a Western target in an area of the capital with a high level of security. Several key members of the group, including its leader, Abu Dujana, were arrested in June 2007, marking a significant blow to its operational capabilities. Later, the four main suspects in the October 2002 bombing of a nightclub in Bali were executed in 2008; the attack had killed more than 200 people, including a number of foreign tourists.

  • Travel to Indonesia outside high-risk areas of communal violence and insurgency can continue. However, staff should be fully briefed, both on the terrorism risk and the risk posed by high crime rates, prior to travel.
  • We advise visitors and residents to exercise heightened security awareness at all times. As far as practically possible, they should minimize their exposure to unsecured areas that attract significant numbers of Westerners.
  • Personnel in Jakarta should be aware that the recent attacks have caused some travel disruption in the city. Allow additional time for journeys and anticipate heightened security measures. Carry identification and follow the directives of the security forces. Do not cross police cordons without the express permission of the authorities.
  • Significant disruption throughout the rest of the country is not expected, though staff should be prepared for increased security checks and the possibility of security alerts and hoaxes. In the event of a bomb threat, co-operate with all security directives.
  • Travel to Papua should be for essential purposes only, due to risks posed by sporadic violence. Personnel on essential travel should consider local security support.
  • Keep away from all demonstrations to minimize the risk of incidental exposure to violence.
  • Travelers should monitor local media sources for the latest information regarding any planned demonstrations.

Jamaica Travel Advice

Violent crime is an entrenched and pervasive problem in Jamaica. Gang violence and shootings are a regular occurrence in several areas of Kingston, including Mountain View, Trench Town, Tivoli Gardens , Cassava Piece and Arnett Gardens, as well as the neighborhood of Flankers in the city of Montego Bay. The security situation is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future as the effectiveness of the JCF has been undermined by widespread corruption – including collusion with criminal gangs – and a lack of equipment. Furthermore, the deteriorating economic conditions will continue to fuel unemployment and, potentially, crime.

  • Rates of crime are high and, though incidents are most likely to affect local residents, it is necessary to exercise heightened awareness and observe basic security precautions.
  • Be aware of local geography; avoid deprived urban areas and parks at all times.
  • Do not travel on foot after dark, and avoid travel on foot during the day if you are not familiar with the local geography.
  • Avoid ostentatious display of wealth. If attacked, co-operate with assailants and avoid eye contact or sudden movements; resistance is more likely to provoke violence.

 

Iran Travel Advice:

Three US nationals on 31 July were reportedly arrested after inadvertently entering the country while hiking in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. The tourists allegedly crossed the border after getting lost while hiking approximately 55 miles (89km) north-east of the Iraqi Kurdish town of Sulaymaniya. According to media reports the three are currently being held in the Iranian border town of Marivan. A Kurdish official stated that the tourists had been warned not to continue hiking in the mountainous area due to the close proximity with the Iranian border.

  • Personnel are advised to minimise movement in urban areas until the situation has stabilised. In Tehran, the following locations and areas in particular should be avoided: Azadi Square, Tehran University, the British embassy on Ferdowsi Avenue, Valiasr Square, Haft-e Tir Square and Jaam-e Jaam.
  • Do not carry a camera and follow all security force directives promptly. Treat members of the security forces you encounter with patience and respect.
  • Travel to Iran can continue; however, significant disruption to business and travel is possible in all major urban areas. 
  • Personnel are advised to minimize movement in urban areas until the situation has stabilized. In Tehran, the following locations and areas should be avoided in particular: Azadi Square, Tehran University, the British embassy on Ferdowsi Avenue, Valiasr Square, Haft-e Tir Square and Jaam-e Jaam. 
  • Be aware that while foreigners are unlikely to be targeted in the event of politically motivated unrest, they risk incidental exposure to violence. Avoid all political gatherings because of the risk that they will descend into violence; liaise closely with local contacts and hotel staff for information on the locations and timings of scheduled rallies. 
  • Be aware that political gatherings and isolated bouts of unrest may occur with little or no warning in urban areas during this period of heightened tension. In the event of encountering a large crowd, vacate the area immediately; do not stop to watch or photograph the gathering. 
  • Avoid traveling on foot until the situation has become clearer; use a private vehicle and trusted local driver. Self-driving is inadvisable. 
  • Be aware that political rallies and increased security checkpoints are likely to cause localized transport disruption in the coming days; allow additional time for journeys in urban areas. Carry identification at all times and anticipate stop-checks by the security forces. 
  • Anticipate heightened sensitivity on the part of the security forces; do not carry a camera and follow all security force directives promptly. Treat members of the security forces you encounter with patience and respect. 
  • In the unlikely event of being detained by the security forces, insist on speaking to your embassy prior to answering questions or making a statement. The authorities may be unwilling to provide the necessary contact details; memorize the contact details of your embassy or carry them on your person. 
  • Seek a briefing prior to travel and monitor developments closely during your stay.

Mali Travel Advice

While the overall risk of abduction in Mali remains low, the risk is higher in the north-eastern region. The latest fighting underscores long-standing security concerns in areas where QIM operatives have a platform from which to conduct terrorist and criminal activities.

  • Avoid all but essential travel in the northern regions beyond the cities of Gao and Timbuktu due to the risks posed by banditry, sporadic clan conflict and Islamist militant activity.
  • Personnel undertaking essential travel in the northern regions should seek professional security advice prior to travel and should liaise closely with the local authorities. A security forces escort may be necessary in some areas (subject to itinerary).

 

Mexico Travel Advice:

The police on August 17 discovered the bodies of four men in an abandoned vehicle on the southern island of Cozumel (Quintana Roo state). The state governor, Félix González Canto, attributed the killings to feuding drug cartels. The authorities have tightened security in the area and have stepped up the monitoring of sea traffic between Cozumel and the mainland city of Playa del Carmen, in Quintana Roo’s Solidaridad municipality.

Drug-related killings are rare on Cozumel, though similar incidents have taken place in Quintana Roo in recent months. The latest incident underlines the continuing security risks posed by drug-related violence, which proceeds despite an ongoing nationwide crackdown on narcotics traffickers. Though the latter has yielded a number of successes, violent drug-related crime has continued in several states, especially Baja California, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Michoacán, Sinaloa and Tamaulipas, and in areas along the US border where travel risks are rated as HIGH. Many incidents involve score-settling between rival cartels and targeted killings of police and other officials. However, while foreign nationals are unlikely to be singled out by drug traffickers, they risk incidental exposure to violence during clashes between rival gangs and gunfights involving the security forces and cartel members.

a series of attacks by suspected drug gang members in at least eight cities of the western state of Michoacán. The attacks took place following the arrest earlier that day of Arnold Rueda Medina, who is one of the top members of the La Familia drug cartel. Incidents took place in the cities of Pátzcuaro, Apatzingán, Lázaro Cárdenas, Nueva Italia, Zitácuaro, Zamora, La Piedad and Huetamo, after members of La Familia attacked a police station in Morelia, the capital of Michoacán, in an apparent attempt to free Medina. The police subsequently arrested two of the perpetrators.

Additionally, cartels have become more likely to carry out kidnaps as their activities have been hindered by the increased security: 1,028 kidnaps were recorded in 2008, almost double the figure for 2007. Although the majority of the victims are locals, foreigners have also been targeted in short-term express kidnaps and kidnaps-for-ransom.

  • Travelers intending to visit areas most acutely affected by drug-related violence should seek expert itinerary- and profile-specific advice prior to travel.
  • Maintain a low profile and remain vigilant to mitigate the threats posed by criminal activity such as kidnapping; avoid overt displays of wealth and choose a modest vehicle for travel.
  • Travelers intending to visit US border areas affected by drug-related violence or Culiacán and its surroundings should seek expert advice prior to departure.
  • Travel to these areas should be for essential business purposes only and should be arranged in close liaison with local contacts.
  • Given the difficulties associated with arranging secure accommodation in US border areas, avoid overnight stays and arrange lodging on the US side where possible.
  • Crime poses a significant risk in Mexico and criminals are often armed; take stringent security precautions at all times.
  • If accosted by a criminal, assume that the assailant is armed and do nothing to resist or provoke them.

Nicaragua Travel Advice:

The Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) on 19 July will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1979 revolution with commemorative rallies across the country, including at the Plaza de la Fé Juan Pablo II in the capital Managua from 11.00 to 20.00 (local time). Much of the central area of Managua will be closed to vehicular traffic during the commemorative events. Additionally, the authorities will close the northern and eastern sides of the Dennis Martínez National Stadium, the Rotonda Colon and the national congress and other government buildings in and around the city centre.

  • Avoid all demonstrations and rallies as a basic security precaution.
  • Travelers are advised to avoid Managua’s Plaza de la Fé Juan Pablo II and its vicinity on 19 July.
  • Personnel should allow additional time for travel within Managua on 19 July and book taxis in advance for important journeys.

Nigeria Travel Advice:

Key militant group reinforces campaign with attack on oil facility, abduction of foreign workers.

Five policemen on June 30 were reportedly killed in the attempted abduction of expatriate workers in Aba city (Abia state). A police convoy was reportedly escorting the workers to a bottling plant in the city when it was ambushed. A day earlier, a foreign oil worker is believed to have been abducted on the Izome-Owerri road (Imo state). A policeman and a driver were reportedly killed in that attack.

At least 200 foreign workers have been kidnapped in the last three years in the delta region, where travel risks are rated as HIGH. The bold nature of the abduction attempt, which occurred despite the presence of a police escort, underscores the challenge of mitigating abduction risks when dealing with highly organized criminal groups.

A Lebanese construction worker and his police escort on May 31 were rescued by security personnel, hours after they had been kidnapped by unidentified gunmen while traveling along the Abia-Port Harcourt highway in the state of Abia. Both hostages were injured during the rescue operations. In a previous incident, unidentified gunmen of April 6 kidnapped an Italian engineer in the south-eastern city of Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi state; he was released on April 15. The kidnappers had reportedly demanded a ransom of $1m, but it is not clear whether any ransom was paid to secure the hostage’s release. In the last two years, a significant reduction in the frequency with which expatriates have been visiting leisure venues, such as bars and nightclubs, in the region has meant that most abductions have occurred while victims are in transit between locations.

  • Travel to Abia state is possible with stringent security precautions.
  • Travel to the Niger delta states of Rivers, Delta and Bayelsa and to riverine areas of Akwa Ibom should be for essential purposes only.
  • To mitigate against the risk of kidnapping, restrict non-essential movement outside secure locations; undertake travel by road in daylight hours using secure escorts and good journey management; and for long distances, travel by air where possible.
  • Visits should be kept to the minimum possible duration and should only be undertaken with detailed security planning and management. Travelers should be fully confident in their security, communication, accommodation and transport arrangements prior to travel.
  • Nigeria is a complex operating environment. This advice is not exhaustive; seek itinerary- and profile-specific advice prior to travel in Nigeria.
  • Ensure that you are fully briefed on the prevailing risks and necessary mitigating measures prior to travel. Ensure that you know what to do in the event of a medical emergency or serious security incident.
  • Register with your embassy and all available warden networks to ensure that you receive regular updates prior to and during travel.

Pakistan Travel Advice:

Members of the Baluchistan National Movement (BNM) on 1 September staged a general strike in the south-western province of Baluchistan in protest at the killing of BNM leader Rasool Baksh Mengal; the strike disrupted travel throughout the province. The police used tear gas and batons to disperse crowds that had gathered in various districts to protest against the killing. BNM supporters blocked highways, set fire to four vehicles and threw stones at official buildings in the Uthal area of Lasbela district. Although business establishments in Quetta remained open, there was less vehicular movement than usual in the city. Highways linking Quetta with Taftan town (Chagai district) and Karachi (Sindh province) were blocked. There were instances of violence in Turbat city, while mobs attacked a telephone exchange, a local court and the residence of a judicial magistrate in Awaran district. The strike was also observed in Kalat, Gwadar and Nushki cities, as well as Panjgur, Khuzdar and Mastung districts. At least two people have been killed and more than 15 others injured in the violence since Mengal’s body on 31 August was found hanging from a tree in the Bela area of Lasbela; the body allegedly bore torture marks.

The BNM has called on its supporters to observe three days of mourning, so further unrest is likely on 2-3 September. Although foreigners are unlikely to be targeted, those in Baluchistan face a considerable incidental risk from the disturbances. In addition, the unrest is likely to make road travel difficult, as the roadblocks on various highways demonstrate. Security measures are expected to be tight in the province over the next few days. There is a credible risk of the protests spreading to Karachi.

Family members allege that a national intelligence agency arrested, tortured and killed Mengal, who on 23 August went missing from Lasbela; the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has supported this accusation. Members of the Baluchistan Republican Party (BRP) in June had staged a general strike in the province over the killing of two other Baluch nationalist leaders. Riots in May broke out in various parts of Baluchistan, including Quetta, as well as in Karachi when three BNM leaders’ corpses were found near Turbat after unidentified armed men kidnapped them.

Regional political parties such as the Baluchistan National Party (BNP), the BNM and the BRP are seeking autonomy for the province, which is strategically important to the federal government as it provides the country with 45% of its gas supplies and is believed to contain further reserves that are still to be discovered. The killing of Baluch nationalist leader Nawab Akbar Bugti in a military operation in August 2006 triggered violent reactions in Baluchistan and Karachi. Over the past few months, Baluch separatists and local political parties have alleged that government agencies are involved in abducting and killing people seeking regional autonomy in Baluchistan.

  • Avoid all travel to Dera Bugti and Kohlu districts of Baluchistan. Travel to all other areas of Baluchistan should be for essential purposes only due to risks posed by military operations and tribal insurgency. If travel to Baluchistan is essential, seek expert advice and professional security support prior to deployment.
  • Avoid all gatherings associated with Mengal’s killing because of the high risk that they will degenerate into violence. Leave an area at the first sign of unrest.
  • Ascertain whether routes are clear before embarking on road travel. Avoid traveling on the Quetta-Karachi and Quetta-Taftan highways, as well as any highways that pass through Lasbela, until it has been confirmed that they have been cleared of demonstrators. Do not attempt to cross roadblocks, as this may provoke a hostile response.
  • Travelers in Baluchistan should carry identification documents to ease passage through security checkpoints.
  • We continue to advise that travel to Pakistan is possible with stringent security precautions.
  • Avoid movement in Choor Chowk and surrounding areas while the security forces conduct their investigations.
  • Anticipate increased stop-checks; allow additional travel time and carry personal identification to ease movement through checkpoints.

Philippines Travel Advice:

Three gunmen on 1 September shot dead a Filipino-Canadian man and a Slovenian woman during an armed robbery in Quezon City in Metro Manila. The couple were killed after armed robbers broke into their home on Time Street in the West Triangle district.

The incident serves as a reminder that Quezon City is an area of Metro Manila that necessitates extra caution. It also highlights the persistent risk posed by crime in the country, which is exacerbated by the ready availability of firearms. Robbery, pickpocketing and violent crime are common in major cities, particularly in entertainment areas, while car theft or carjacking can occur anywhere. Violent crime is a growing concern and serious attacks against business travelers and expatriates have occurred. However, petty crime, such as theft and pickpocketing, remains the primary risk for visitors.

Most recently, a German national was killed on 1 July outside his home in Daanbantayan municipality in Cebu province. In other incidents of violence in Quezon City, a government official was shot and injured on 11 March outside the Department of Public Works and Highway office on Bonifacio Road, while a regional director of the Land Transportation Office was injured on 9 March by unidentified gunmen in the city. Prior to that, at least nine people were injured on 27 February in a grenade attack on an unknown target on Ermin Garcia Street, in Cubao district in Quezon City.

  • Travelers visiting Metro Manila are advised to exercise caution if visiting the poorer, crowded suburbs outside the Makati and Malate business and entertainment districts, particularly after dark. Personnel should also avoid the Tondo-Binondo area and exercise additional caution if visiting Quezon City.
  • High rates of crime pose a significant risk to travelers. Exercise heightened caution and stringent security measures at all times and in all areas. Accommodation and transport decisions should be made with attention to the risks posed by crime.
  • Criminals are commonly armed; if targeted, avoid doing anything to resist or antagonize your assailant.
  • There is a credible risk of attack by either domestic or transnational terrorists. Be alert to suspicious behavior and report any suspect packages to the authorities; avoid the vicinity of crowded public places, such as transport hubs and marketplaces
  • Avoid all demonstrations to mitigate the risk of exposure to incidental violence.
  • Where possible, avoid the vicinity of Mendiola Bridge Malacanang Palace, which is a likely rally venue.
  • Monitor local media sources and our website for more specific information on the times and locations of future protests.
  • Avoid all travel to Basilan and the Sulu Archipelago due to the risks posed by insurgent and associated criminal activity.
  • Travel to most of Mindanao is viable, but travel to areas of insurgency in south-western Mindanao should be for essential purposes only.
  • Be alert to suspicious behavior and report any suspect packages to the authorities; avoid the vicinity of crowded public places, such as transport hubs and marketplaces

Russia Travel Advice

Attacks in Dagestan highlight poor security environment, incidental risks to personnel in North Caucasus.

  • Personnel are advised against all non-essential travel outside the administrative capitals of Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan due to frequent clashes between the security forces and rebel militants, and a high risk of kidnapping.
  • Personnel on essential business should be aware that infrastructure and security provisions are very poor in some areas; be fully confident in your logistical and security arrangements prior to deployment.
  • Seek professional security advice and support; this must include pre-trip briefings, training where necessary and a secure escort.
  • Travel to the administrative capitals of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia and to the regions of North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia is possible with stringent security precautions; it is necessary to seek professional security support prior to deployment in these areas; a secure escort may be necessary in some areas.

 

Saudi Arabia Travel Advice:

  • Travel to Saudi Arabia is possible with stringent security precautions.
  • Ensure that you are confident in your transport, accommodation and security arrangements and are fully briefed on the prevailing security risks and necessary mitigating measures prior to travel.
  • Be aware that there is a persistent risk of terrorist attacks targeting Western interests by Islamist extremists.
  • Further large-scale and small-scale, opportunistic attacks against individual Western personnel are possible, though a renewed, sustained campaign of attacks is currently unlikely.
  • Kidnapping is rare and few cases have involved foreign citizens; nonetheless, be aware that foreigners present an attractive target for Islamist extremists.
  • Minimize all movement outside secure facilities and avoid public places associated with expatriates or where large numbers of expatriates congregate, such as shopping centers and restaurants.
  • Be vigilant at all times and report any suspicious behavior to the authorities.
  • Longer-term visitors should avoid establishing discernable routines, vary the timing and location of journeys and be alert to the possibility of surveillance.
  • Register with your embassy and all relevant warden networks.

Somalia Travel Advice:

Insurgents’ warning to Kenya, Ethiopia shows potential spread of security threats to wider region.

  • Avoid all travel to Somalia due to the severe risks posed to travelers by a variety of threats including military conflict, lack of rule of law and kidnap.

South Africa Travel Advice:

A group of armed men on 26 August attacked and robbed a US national on the R21 highway. The target was travelling in a taxi en route to the Sun City tourist resort in North West province from OR Tambo International Airport (JNB), which serves the country’s largest city Johannesburg (Gauteng province).

The attack serves to underline the continuing risk of violent crime, which poses a significant risk to travelers; business visitors may be targeted because of their perceived wealth. Crime rates in Johannesburg are high, with carjacking, armed robbery and mugging especially prevalent, and the perpetrators of such attacks often use firearms. Incidents in which travelers are followed from JNB and subsequently robbed have risen in recent months, and similar attacks have targeted people withdrawing money from banks and automated teller machines (ATMs) in the city. No area of the city can be considered to be immune from crime; such activity, especially carjackings, may take place in residential areas and the central business district (CBD). The most common forms of criminal activity remain car and truck hijacks, muggings and break-ins at residences and business premises. In addition to Johannesburg, levels of crime are highest in the cities of Cape Town (Western Cape Province) and Durban (KwaZulu-Natal province).

An Indian national, who was shot at his residence in the north-eastern city of Johannesburg (Gauteng province) by unidentified assailants on 2 July, died from his injuries on 7 July; the victim was reportedly robbed prior to being shot.

The incident highlights the serious risk to in-country personnel of falling victim to violent crime. Criminal incidents, particularly carjacking, muggings, armed robberies, murders and rapes, are reported frequently, and the perpetrators of such attacks often use firearms. Business visitors may be targeted because of their perceived wealth, and personnel of African descent are not less likely to be victimized. Armed carjacking and residential burglaries are the most serious threats to those who keep to upper-income areas of main cities. Theft of passports and other valuables is often reported at airports, bus terminals and railway stations; the level of criminal activity is highest in the main cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town (Western Cape Province) and Durban (KwaZulu-Natal province).

  • Exercise heightened vigilance and stringent security measures at all times and in all areas. Accommodation and transport decisions should be made with attention to the risks posed by crime.
  • Avoid travel to low-income residential areas unless with adequate support, due to the significant risks posed by high levels of violent crime.
  • High rates of crime pose a significant risk to travelers in South Africa. Exercise heightened caution and stringent security measures at all times and in all areas. Accommodation and transport decisions should be made with attention to the risks posed by crime.
  • Criminals are commonly armed; in the event of being accosted do nothing to resist or antagonize assailants.
  • Be aware that driving standards are poor, rates of drink-driving high and road traffic accidents common. Exercise heightened vigilance, maintain low speeds and minimize cross-country travel after dark.
  • Be aware that carjacking is a serious problem. Take appropriate precautions to mitigate the risk.
  • Metered taxis are a suitable means of travel in urban areas. Sit in the rear of the vehicle and keep windows up and doors locked at all times. Keep valuables out of sight and place bags by your feet.
  • Do not travel in minibus taxis due to the risks posed by crime. Rail travel is inadvisable.
  • Rates of rape are high. Female travelers must take additional security precautions.
  • The above advice is not exhaustive; seek itinerary- and profile-specific advice prior to travel in South Africa.

Sudan Travel Advice

Unidentified assailants on 29 August abducted two foreign members of the joint UN-African Union Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) peacekeeping force in the western town of Zalingei, in the Darfur region. The nationalities of the victims have not been revealed.

The latest incident highlights the risks posed to foreign personnel and aid agencies in Darfur by the ongoing ethnic conflict and attendant lawlessness. While fighting related to the conflict has declined according to recent UNAMID statistics, the region is suffering from a breakdown in law and order, and widespread criminal activity. Kidnap-for-ransom targeting peacekeeping troops and foreign aid workers is common. International organizations and NGOs are also among the preferred targets for vehicle hijacks at gunpoint and armed burglaries. In addition, the security situation remains unpredictable and prone to sudden escalations of heavy fighting between government forces and rebel groups, rival rebel factions, and among tribal militias. 

A local geological team conducting research on the prospects for establishing a cement plant was attacked on July 19 in the Mungayat Hills (Western Bahr el-Ghazal state, around 168 miles (270km) east of the regional capital Wau). Three members of an armed escort that the security forces had provided were abducted and later found dead. The research team escaped unharmed.

At least six unidentified armed men on 3 July abducted two foreign aid workers – one Irish and the other Ugandan – in the town of Kutum, located 74 miles (120km) north-west of el-Fasher, the capital of North Darfur state. A Sudanese guard who was abducted along with the aid workers was later released. The workers are reportedly employees of Irish aid organization GOAL.

Such incidents underline the persistent risk of attacks against foreign assets and personnel, including foreign aid workers, in Darfur. The travel risks in the region are rated as EXTREME. Unidentified gunmen in April kidnapped two foreign employees of French aid group Aide Médicale Internationale (AMI) – a French national and a Canadian – in Ed el Fursan, about 55 miles (90km) south-west of Nyala, the capital of South Darfur state. The workers were released later that month on humanitarian grounds, due to their poor health. Three foreign workers belonging to aid group Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) were abducted in March from their office in Saraf Umra, about 140 miles (230km) west of el-Fasher. Although the motive for the latest abduction is unknown, peacekeeping troops, foreign aid workers and oil workers have been kidnapped in the past for ransom.

  • Essential travel to the cities of Nyala and el-Fasher in Darfur can continue; we advise against travel to all other areas of Darfur due to the severe risks posed by criminality and conflict. The security environment is poor and foreigners may be targeted in attacks and kidnaps.
  • The security environment is poor and foreigners may be targeted in attacks and kidnaps. Travelers nonetheless intending to operate in Darfur should seek expert security advice.
  • Travel in southern Sudan outside of the regional capital Juba, and to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, requires comprehensive security planning and support; seek professional security advice prior to travel in these areas. The security environment is complex and subject to rapid change. Independent travel is not recommended.
  • Avoid unnecessary overland travel; mines, banditry and sporadic low-level conflict pose significant risks. If cross-country travel is necessary seek expert itinerary-specific advice and exercise good journey planning and management. Measures should include traveling in daylight hours only, in a well-spaced convoy, maintaining open lines of communication.
  • Prearrange four-wheel drive transport and a trusted local driver; do not self-drive unless very familiar with local conditions. Do not travel on foot or alone; ensure you are accompanied by a trusted local contact or experienced guide at all times.
  • Be aware that a secure escort may be necessary in some areas (subject to itinerary). Liaise with security forces and UNMIS/UNDSS regarding the necessity and availability of secure escorts.

Thailand Travel Advice:

A car bombing in the Yaha district of the southern province of Yala on July 17 killed two army officials and injured five others, including a passerby. The bomb was remotely detonated as a car carrying six soldiers passed in close proximity.

While no group has claimed responsibility for the incident, it is suspected to be part of a continuing separatist insurgency in the three southern Muslim-majority provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani. The latest attack comes amid an increase in separatist attacks in the southern provinces over the recent months; sporadic attacks have also taken place in the neighbouring Songkhla province in the past. This trend highlights the difficulties the government faces in stabilising the region, where a martial law remains in effect in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat, and the Thepha, Chana, Na Thawi, Saba Yoi and Sadao districts of Songkhla. Bomb attacks and assassinations contribute to the HIGH travel risks associated with these areas. Although such incidents are usually aimed at military, government or Buddhist buildings and personnel, militants have occasionally targeted markets, public transport and hotels.

In a recent incident, a soldier was injured in two remote-controlled bomb explosions in Narathiwat. Prior to this incident, two separate roadside bombs on June 30 killed one member of the security forces and injured several others in Pattani and Narathiwat, and a similar attack on June 26 injured two police officers in the village of Juerae, in the sub-district of Su-ngai Padi (Narathiwat). The incident was aimed at security personnel who were escorting teachers; the latter have been regularly targeted by insurgents, who see them as representatives of the government, seeking to impose Buddhist Thai values on ethnic Malay residents. 

The predominantly Muslim southern provinces have a long history of insurrection by separatists that consider the annexation of the Muslim south by the Buddhist kingdom illegal; Muslims in those provinces have complained of discrimination by the predominantly Buddhist population. After a few years of relative calm, levels of violence increased significantly in early 2004, and more than 3,500 people have subsequently been killed in insurgency-related incidents. Despite repeated unofficial efforts in 2008 to engage various militant groups in negotiations, the extent of these organizations and their aims remain unclear. However, the conflict is likely to remain confined to the south of the country.

  • Travel to the southern provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani and the southern districts of Songkhla province should be for essential purposes only due to the risks posed by the escalating insurgency

Turkey Travel Advice

At least four people on 6 July were killed and nine others injured when a landmine suspected to have been planted by separatist militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) exploded in the town of Silopi, located in the south-eastern province of Şirnak adjacent to the Iraqi border.

While such attacks are expected to primarily target military and police installations, popular tourist sites and commercial centers have been attacked in the past. Vigilance is required in order to mitigate the threat posed by such incidents.

  • Seek itinerary-specific advice prior to travel to the south-east due to the risks posed by rebel activity, military operations and mine fields.
  • Avoid all travel to remote rural areas near the border with Iraq and Iran because of the incidental risk posed by clashes between the military and Kurdish rebels and the proximity of rebel bases.
  • Be aware that landmines are laid along some sections of Turkey’s borders with Syria, Armenia, Iran and Iraq, as well as around some key installations. Minefields are for the most part clearly marked and cordoned off, but personnel should nonetheless exercise mine awareness in remote border areas.
  • In-country personnel should be alert to suspicious behavior and report any suspect packages to the authorities.

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