Somaliland: Foreign Office Warns of Threat to Westerners

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Map of Affected areasUK FCO Press Release

Somalilandsun – FCO Travel Advice urges British nationals to leave Somaliland in response to specific threat to Westerners.

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Travel Summary and the Safety and Security Terrorism/Security section. The overall level of the advice has not changed; we advise against all travel to Somalia.

Travel advice for Somalia, including Somaliland

Travel Summary

• We advise against all travel to Somalia, including Somaliland. In the southern and central regions, there is ongoing serious violence, dangerous levels of criminal activity and general internal insecurity. We advise any British citizens in Somalia to leave. We are aware of a specific threat to Westerners in Somaliland.

• There is a high threat from terrorism, including kidnapping, throughout Somalia, including Somaliland. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Following the death of Osama Bin Laden terrorist groups operating in Somalia have made threats against Westerners and those working for Western organisations in Somalia, including Somaliland. See Safety and Security – Terrorism/Security.

• On 7 November 2012, a vehicle borne bomb exploded near the parliament compound in Mogadishu. At least one person was killed. See Safety and Security – Terrorism/Security.

• Westerners and those working for western organisations have been targeted in the past and this threat is ongoing. On 14 October 2010, two people working with the NGO Save the Children Fund were kidnapped in the town of Adado, near the Ethiopian border. See Safety and Security – Terrorism/Security.

• All areas across Somalia are suffering food shortages resulting in the displacement of thousands of Somali people. See Safety and Security – Local Travel.

• The Somali President declared a state of emergency on 22 June 2009. Insurgent activity and political tension remain high. There are ongoing reports of deaths and casualties in continued fighting in Mogadishu and elsewhere in South and Central Somalia. There is also tension on the Somaliland/Puntland border in the Sool and Sanaag regions.

• Piracy is a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean, especially for shipping which does not take appropriate precautions or follow agreed shipping industry best practice guidelines. Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable to attack. See Safety and Safety – Sea Travel.

• There is no British representation in any part of Somalia and we are unable to provide consular assistance there. Should you need consular assistance please travel to the British Embassy in Addis Ababa or the British High Commission in Nairobi. See General section – Registration.

• Should you decide to travel to Somalia against this Travel Advice, you should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See General – Insurance.

Safety and security

Safety and Security – Terrorism / Security

We advise against all travel to Somalia. There is a high threat to western, including British, interests from terrorism in Somalia, including Somaliland. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Since the death of Osama Bin Laden terrorist groups operating in Somalia have made threats against Westerners and those working for western organisations in Somalia, including Somaliland. There is ongoing serious violence between opposing factions.

Al Shabaab, a proscribed terrorist group, and other groups opposed to the Somali government continue to carry out attacks in and around Mogadishu. Unconfirmed numbers of civilians of all ages have been killed in the serious fighting, which often involves heavy weapons. Fighting is intense with occasional peaks, such as during the so called Ramadan Offensive in 2010. There was renewed intense fighting in Mogadishu during March 2011.

There is a high threat of maritime terrorism in the territorial and international waters off Somalia. We continue to advise against all travel to the area. See Safety and Security – Local Travel – Sea Travel.

The incidents below highlight the threat posed by terrorism in Somalia and the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out attacks:

• On 7 November 2012 a vehicle borne bomb exploded near the parliament compound in Mogadishu. At least one person was killed.

• On 22 September 2012 Somali MP Mustaf Haji Mohamed was assassinated. Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility.

• On 20 September 2012 an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated, followed by two suicide bomb attacks at the Village Restaurant, a popular cafe in Mogadishu. The attack killed 21 people, including three journalists and injured 30 others.

• On 13 September 2012 at least eight people were killed when suicide bombers attacked the Aljazeera Hotel where President, Hassan Sheikh was meeting the Kenyan Foreign Minister.

• On 1 May 2012, an explosion occurred at a Hotel in Dusamareb. A number of people are reported to have been killed and injured.

• On 4 April 2012, an explosion occurred at the National Theatre in Mogadishu. A number of people are reported to have been killed and injured.

• On 14 March 2012, an explosion occurred near Villa Somalia in Mogadishu. A number of people were reported to have been killed and injured.

• On 8 February 2012, an explosion occurred at Muna Hotel, near the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu. Reports indicate that at least 13 people were killed and others injured. Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for the attack.

• On 11 January 2012 a grenade attack was launched against a UNDP building in Mogadishu. No casualties were reported.

• On 28 November, two explosions occurred in Mogadishu. One bomb exploded at Sanca Junction and one in Yaaqshiid District. At least 11 people were killed and others injured.

• On 22 November 2011 an explosion occurred in Wadajir District, Mogadishu. Eight people are reported to have been killed and others injured.

Kidnaps

There is a threat of kidnapping in Somalia, including Somaliland. Kidnapping can be for financial or political gain and can be motivated by criminality or terrorism. As stated above, we advise against all travel to Somalia, including Somaliland and advise all British Nationals in Somalia, including Somaliland, to leave.

The incidents below highlight the threat of kidnap to Westerners and those working for western organisations. Somalis working for international organisations, including the UN, continue to be victims of targeted attacks.

• On 14 October 2010, two people working with the NGO Save the Children Fund were kidnapped from a guesthouse compound in Adado, approximately 500km north of Mogadishu near the border with Ethiopia. Both were later released.

• On 23 October 2009, two British nationals were taken hostage while sailing in the Indian Ocean. They were approximately 60 nautical miles from the Seychelles’ main island of Mahé, but were taken by a pirate group to the Somali mainland. They were released in November 2010. While the couple were not taken hostage in Somalia itself, their detention within Somalia demonstrates that kidnappers operate within the country.

• On 14 July 2009, two French personnel were kidnapped from a hotel in Mogadishu.

• On 26 November 2008, one Briton and one Spaniard were kidnapped from Bosasso on their way to the airport.

• In June 2008, a Somali national working for the BBC was murdered in the port city of Kismayo.

• On 1 April 2008, one Briton and one Kenyan were kidnapped on the road between Saakow and Bu’aale in the southern region of Juba and continue to be held.

You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

Safety and Security – Local Travel – Hargeisa

There remains a high threat from terrorism against western and UN interests. There is also a high risk of being caught up in local disputes. We therefore advise against all travel to Somalia, including Somaliland.

Safety and Security – Crime

There is a dangerous level of criminal activity by numerous bodies of armed militia throughout Somalia. As a result there have been murders, armed robbery and a number of incidents of kidnapping. There are regular outbreaks of inter-clan violence throughout Somalia.

Safety and Security – Local Travel

On 20 July 2011, the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) declared two regions in southern Somalia: southern Bakool and lower Shabelle, to be in famine. On 4 August 2011, famine was declared in additional areas of southern Somalia: middle Shabelle, Afgoye and the internally displaced communities in Mogadishu. All areas across Somalia are suffering food shortages resulting in the displacement of thousands of Somali people. The displacement and overpopulated refugee camps may lead to a significant increase in disease, increased risk of crime surrounding food security and a heightened security threat to foreigners.

Safety and Security – Local Travel – Sea Travel

Piracy is a significant threat in the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean and has occurred in excess of 1,000 nautical miles from the coast of Somalia. Attacks of piracy and armed robbery against vessels continue to affect only a very small proportion of overall shipping. However, these attacks are frequent and continuing, proving successful almost exclusively against shipping which has not complied with agreed shipping industry best practice on self-defence measures, including on routing.

We advise against all travel by yacht and leisure craft in the territorial waters of Somalia. There have been a number of attacks and attempted attacks on yachts in recent months. Sailing vessels are particularly vulnerable to attack due to their low speed and low freeboard. All mariners intending to sail through high risk areas should consider the necessity of their travel and alternatives, such as transporting the vessel by yacht carrier. See our Indian Ocean travel advice for more information.

There is a high threat of maritime terrorism in the territorial waters and international waters off Somalia. We continue to advise against all travel to the area. There have been acts of Maritime Terrorism in the seas off Somalia and Yemen. In October 2000 the USS Cole was attacked by suicide bombers in the port of Aden using motor vessels and which resulted in the death of 17 American sailors. Al Qaeda subsequently claimed responsibility. There is a risk that more attacks may take place. See Indian Ocean Piracy.

Local laws and customs

The TFG has adopted Shari’a law but is yet to implement it throughout the country. Al-Shabaab and other insurgent groups often have an extreme view on the implementation of Shari’a law.

Health

If, despite our advice you decide to travel to Somalia contact your GP around eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.

There are basic hospital facilities in Hargeisa. Elsewhere medical facilities are extremely limited or non-existent. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

There have been numerous confirmed cases of Acute Watery Diarrheal Syndrome in the Lower Shebelle Region of Somalia and Cholera in Banaadir Region.

Polio remains a major problem in Somalia. With cases occurring outside of the capital there remains the risk of continued spread of wild polio both in Somalia and to neighbouring countries.

In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 32,000 adults aged 15 or over in Somalia were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 0.7% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. Exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.

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General

General – Insurance

If, despite our advice, you travel to Somalia, you should ensure that you take out adequate medical insurance before arrival and carry a comprehensive medical pack when travelling. Medical insurance should cover the cost of air ambulance evacuation out of Somalia in the event of serious accident or illness. Check for any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.

General – British Representation

There is no British representation in Somalia.

British nationals planning to visit Somaliland in spite of our advice not to do so should register their presence with the British Embassy in Addis Ababa. This can be done by either contacting the Embassy direct or through the Africa Educational Trust (AET) office in Hargeisa; (tel: +252 213 4534; fax + 252 213 4501).

Address: British Embassy

Fikre Mariam Abatechan Street

Addis Ababa

Postal address:

PO Box 858

Email: BritishEmbassy.AddisAbaba@fco.gov.uk

British nationals planning to visit South and Central Somalia in spite of our advice not to do so should register their presence with the British High Commission in Nairobi.

Address: British High Commission

Upper Hill Road

Nairobi

PO Box 30465 – 00100 Nairobi

Consular Dept: PO Box 48543 – 00100 Nairobi

Email: ConsularSection.nairobi@fco.gov.uk Consular Section

Website: http://ukinkenya.fco.gov.uk/en/

British nationals may also wish to register with our LOCATE service so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance in an emergency.

General – Money

Credit cards are not accepted in Somalia and it is not possible to obtain currency advances against a credit card. If, despite our advice, you travel to Somalia, you should take hard currency, normally US doll

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