Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 15 June 2018, 16:20 NZST
  • Still current at: 16 October 2019

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Do not travel

Do not travel to Yemen (including the island of Socotra). The ongoing conflict and the extreme threat of terrorism and kidnapping presents a significant risk to New Zealanders in Yemen. 

New Zealanders currently in Yemen are advised to depart as soon as it is safe to do so.

As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Yemen, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens is severely limited. The United Kingdom and United States Embassies in Yemen have closed due to the deteriorating security situation and will not be in a position to provide assistance to New Zealand citizens. You should take this absence of available consular assistance into consideration if you decide to remain in Yemen against our advice.

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Security Advice
New Zealanders who choose to remain in Yemen against our advice should avoid any unnecessary travel, keep a low profile, maintain a high degree of personal security awareness and take all possible security precautions to ensure their safety.

Extreme caution should be exercised in public places and, due to the threat of kidnapping, we recommend varying travel times and routes to avoid establishing predictable behaviour. Do not advertise your travel or other plans through social media. In addition, we strongly recommend seeking professional security advice. Security arrangements should be reviewed on a regular basis. Such measures may mitigate the risks to your safety but cannot eliminate them entirely.

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. Routes in and out of the capital Sana’a, Al Hudaydah, and other major cities may become blocked at short notice, limiting access to airports. Airport infrastructure and ports have suffered damage in the conflict, and most international flights have been suspended.

Ongoing conflict
The security environment in Yemen is highly unstable and the political situation remains volatile. There is ongoing conflict throughout the country between government forces, Houthi rebels and other groups. There have been a number of clashes along the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border, resulting in deaths and casualties. There is no central government control over many parts of the country and overland travel is dangerous.

Airstrikes continue to be conducted by a Saudi Arabia led coalition against Houthi and pro-Saleh targets. Further airstrikes could occur anywhere, at any time, including in major cities such as Sana’a.

Politically-motivated demonstrations occur regularly throughout the country, including in Sana’a, and some have resulted in deaths and injuries. New Zealanders in Yemen are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations and political rallies as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning.

There is an extreme threat from terrorism in Yemen. The absence of effective government control over parts of the country means extremist and terrorist groups, such as Islamic State in Yemen and Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), are able to operate and conduct attacks.

Suicide bombings, car bombs, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and small arms attacks occur frequently throughout the country. Further terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere, including in Sana’a.

The threat of terrorist attack is particularly high for foreigners. Statements made by Yemeni-based terrorists indicate an ongoing intent to attack Westerners and western interests in Yemen. Attacks could be directed at any location known to be frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

Possible targets include (but are not limited to) Yemeni government buildings and facilities, embassies, Houthi gatherings and checkpoints, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, tourist sites, mosques, military and oil industry facilities, and transport and aviation interests.

New Zealanders in Yemen should monitor local information sources for information on new safety and security risks as the security situation can change very quickly. Maintain a high level of vigilance and exercise extreme caution.

There is a very high kidnapping threat to Westerners throughout Yemen including in Sana’a. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and other groups have specifically targeted and kidnapped foreigners throughout Yemen, including in Sana’a. Hundreds of people have been kidnapped in the last 15 years.

Kidnappers have reportedly demanded large ransom payments for foreigners and there remains a strong possibility that foreigners kidnapped by tribal and criminal groups could be on-sold to terrorist groups. A number of foreigners have been killed by their kidnappers in Yemen.

Unexploded munitions and landmines remain a risk in parts of southern and eastern Yemen, especially around the city of Aden and in the central highlands. While many devices have been identified and access limited, we recommend keeping to well-used paths and roads as some may remain undetected.

Piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean remains a security threat to maritime activities in the region. Mariners are advised to take appropriate precautionary measures. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau’s piracy report.

General travel advice
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.

Photography of military establishments or officials and religious sites is prohibited. If in doubt, don’t take a picture.

Leave your passport in a safe place, and carry a photocopy for identification purposes.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Yemen should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. You should check that your travel insurance policy covers travel in Yemen – exclusions may well apply.

New Zealanders who decide to live or travel in Yemen despite our advice are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

See our regional advice for the Middle East

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