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Reviewed: 27 May 2011, 17:30 NZDT
Still current at: 20 May 2013
There is extreme risk to your security in Yemen due to the volatile security situation, the very high threat from terrorism and risk of kidnapping and we advise against all travel.
New Zealanders currently in Yemen are advised to depart immediately, while commercial flights are still operational. Should the security situation deteriorate further, airports could close without warning and routes in and out of Sana’a and other major cities may be blocked.
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Yemen, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens is severely limited. The US and UK Embassies in Yemen, which have previously provided emergency assistance to New Zealanders, have reduced staffing due to the deteriorating situation and are extremely unlikely to be in a position to provide further assistance. You should take this into consideration if you decide to remain in Yemen against our advice.
New Zealanders who choose to remain in Yemen should avoid any unnecessary travel, keep a low profile and maintain a high degree of personal security awareness and take all possible security precautions to protect their safety. Protests, demonstrations and large public gatherings should be avoided and extreme caution exercised in public places. New Zealanders remaining in Yemen should have their own contingency plan for departure in place and ensure they have adequate supplies of food, water, fuel, cash and essential medication stockpiled.
There have been daily anti-government protests throughout Yemen since February 2011. Protests have become increasingly violent resulting in numerous deaths and injuries. The overall security situation has deteriorated since negotiations between the President and opposition broke down on 22 May. The political situation remains volatile and a further deterioration to security is likely.
There is a significant threat from terrorism in Yemen, including against Westerners and western interests. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time, anywhere in Yemen, and could be directed at any location known to be frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers. Possible targets for terrorist attacks include (but are not limited to) embassies, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, tourist sites, government offices, military and oil industry facilities, and transport and aviation interests.
In September 2010, gunmen attacked a local security forces vehicle in Sana’a. In July and June 2010, Yemeni government buildings in Zinjibar and Aden were attacked by gunmen, resulting in a number of deaths. In April 2010, there was an attempted suicide attack against a convoy of British Embassy vehicles. There were no casualties. In March 2009, four South Korean tourists and one Yemeni national were killed following an attack at a tourist site in Shibam, southern Hadramaut. Four others were injured. A convoy of vehicles was also targeted by a suicide bomber close to Sana’a International Airport.
In September 2008, an attack on the US Embassy in Sana’a resulted in the deaths of 17 people, including six terrorists. In April 2008, also in Sana’a, an improvised explosive device exploded at the headquarters of a Canadian oil company and mortar attacks occurred against the Italian Embassy and a residential compound. In March 2008, there was a mortar attack against the US Embassy in Sana’a. In January 2008, two Belgian tourists and two Yemeni nationals were shot dead, and four other Belgians seriously injured following an attack by four gunmen on a convoy of tourist vehicles in the Governorate of Hadramaut.
Tribal groups in Yemen have kidnapped foreigners (including in the capital Sana’a) to draw attention to their grievances with the government. In May 2010, two American tourists were kidnapped near Sana’a, and two Chinese oil workers kidnapped in the Shabwah region. In November 2009, a Japanese national was kidnapped between Sana’a and Marib, and in June 2009 a British national and eight other foreign nationals were kidnapped in the Governorate of Sa’ada. Three of those kidnapped were killed. Due to the risk of kidnapping you should avoid all travel outside the major cities.
We continue to advise against all travel to the Governorates of Ma’rib, Shabwah and Hadramaut due to terrorism, tribal violence and the risk of kidnapping. We continue to advise against all travel to the Governorate of Sa’ada due to armed conflict. Although official military operations against Yemeni rebels in this region have ended, hostilities could resume at any time.
Piracy is a significant threat in Yemeni waters, especially in the Gulf of Aden. Incidents of piracy have also been known to occur in parts of the Red Sea. Mariners are advised to take appropriate precautionary measures. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy report.
New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Yemen to avoid offending local sensitivities. Modesty and discretion should be exercised in both dress and behaviour.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Yemen should have comprehensive medical and travel insurance policies in place that include provision for medical evacuation by air. Policy exclusions are likely to apply given the current situation in Yemen.
New Zealanders travelling or resident in Yemen are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.