New Zealand Government advice for Yemen
When travelling to Yemen, you should always get travel insurance in case the worst happens. To help you ensure you travel safely, we have included the travel advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade for Yemen.
There is extreme risk to your security in Yemen and we advise against all travel. The volatile and dangerous security situation and very high threat from terrorism and risk of kidnapping by either Al-Qaida or local tribal groups present a significant risk to New Zealanders in Yemen.
New Zealanders currently in Yemen are strongly 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 UK and US 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.
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 protect their safety.
Extreme caution should be exercised in public places and, due to the kidnapping risk, we recommend varying travel times and routes to avoid establishing predictable behaviour. 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.
Political situation/Civil unrest
The political situation in Yemen remains unpredictable and volatile.
A large number of people have been killed in unrest and clashes between armed groups throughout the country as Houthi rebels have recently expanded their areas of control. Since September 2014, the rebels have made significant advances and now control the capital Sana’a. On 23 March 2015, Houthi rebels took over Yemen’s third largest city of Taiz, including its airport, and clashes have also been reported in and around the southern city of Aden.
The security situation continues to deteriorate and on 25 March 2015, a coalition led by Saudi Arabia conducted a number of airstrikes in response to Houthi advances, including on Sana’a. Further military activity throughout the country is possible.
There is no central government control over most of the country, especially in Sa’dah in the north and in Abyan, Hadramawt and parts of other areas in the south. Internal travel and access to some cities and ports of entry may be restricted.
Politically-motivated demonstrations continue to take place 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 a significant threat from terrorism in Yemen, particularly against Westerners and western interests. Suicide bomb attacks, car bombs, rocket attacks and small arms attacks occur frequently. On 20 March 2015, at least 137 people were killed and many others were wounded in a suicide bombing of two mosques in Sana’a.
Terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere in Yemen. 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, 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.
There is a significant kidnapping threat to Westerners in Yemen; including in the capital Sana’a as well as on the Aden/Taiz/Sana’a highway and in the provinces of Taiz, al-Jawf, Abyan, Sa’ada, Dharmar, Amran, Marib, Sana’a and Shabwah.
Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and tribal groups have specifically targeted and kidnapped foreigners across Yemen, including in the capital Sana’a. A number of foreign nationals were kidnapped in 2014. In February 2015, a French national was kidnapped in Sana’a. Kidnappers have reportedly demanded large ransom payments for foreigners and there remains a strong possibility that foreigners kidnapped by tribal groups could be on-sold to AQAP. A number of foreigners have been killed by their kidnappers in Yemen.
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 .
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.
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 travel or live in Yemen despite our advice are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
See our regional advice for the Middle East