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Reviewed: 14 March 2013, 12:00 NZDT
Still current at: 23 May 2013
There is high risk to your security in Tripoli and the north coast cities of Zuwara, Az Zawiya, Khums and Misrata owing to the unsettled security situation and we advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel.
There is extreme risk to your security elsewhere in Libya, particularly in Benghazi and the east of the country, due to a significant threat from terrorism and kidnapping and we advise against all travel.
Political tension/civil unrest
The National Transitional Council declared the liberation of Libya on 23 October 2011. Elections were held on 7 July 2012 and the Libyan National Transitional Council formally handed over power to the Prime Minister. The political situation in Libya remains fragile, however, and travellers should be alert to the possibility of politically motivated violence, particularly in the main cities of Tripoli and Benghazi. A number of assassinations and car bombings have occurred in Benghazi.
Public demonstrations are a frequent occurrence in the central squares of Libya’s cities. New Zealanders in Libya are advised to maintain a high level of security awareness at all times, keep a low profile and avoid all protests and large public gatherings as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning. If you are in an area affected by demonstrations or violence, you should find a safe location, remain indoors, heed any local advice and leave the area as soon as it is safe to do so. Celebratory gunfire occurs in Libya and a number injuries and fatalities have resulted from gunfire rounds falling from the sky. It is advisable to remain indoors in the event of any celebratory gunfire.
There is a high threat from terrorism in Libya, especially outside Tripoli and in the east of the country. Terrorist groups have conducted attacks in the past and the unsettled security situation means future attacks are possible.
Western interests have been targeted by terrorists in Libya in the past. These attacks include a January 2013 attack on the Italian Consul’s vehicle in Benghazi and a September 2012 attack against the US Consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of the Ambassador and a number of other fatalities. In August 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross's (ICRC) residential compound in Misrata was attacked. The ICRC has since temporarily suspended its operations in Misrata and Benghazi. In June 2012, there were several attacks against the British Embassy and US interests in Benghazi.
There is a threat of kidnapping in Libya. The terrorist group Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghred (AQIM), which uses northern Mali as an operating base, has a proven capability of travelling long distances to carry out attacks, including as far as Libya. Criminal groups have also carried out kidnappings for terrorist groups in exchange for financial reward.
As law and order has broken down in many parts of the country, crime levels have increased. The presence of a large number of weapons looted from government storage facilities during the revolution means there is a heightened risk of crime involving firearms, including armed robbery and car jackings. There is a limited police capacity to respond to street crime.
We advise against all road travel outside Tripoli city limits after dark. There is a high threat to personal safety from criminal and armed groups in Libya, particularly at night.
Demining operations are ongoing in southern Libya, however, significant numbers of unmarked landmines remain. It is advisable not to stray off well used roads and paths.
Culture and religion
New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Libya to avoid offending local sensitivities. Modesty and discretion should be exercised in both dress and behaviour.
General travel advice
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Libya, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens is severely limited.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Libya should have comprehensive medical and travel insurance policies in place that include provision for medical evacuation by air.
New Zealanders in Libya are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.