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Reviewed: 08 August 2012, 14:15 NZDT
Still current at: 18 May 2013
There is extreme risk to your security in Syria and we advise against all travel due to the volatile and deteriorating security situation and ongoing military operations. New Zealanders currently in Syria are advised to depart as soon as it is safe to do so.
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Syria, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens is severely limited.
Airports, roads and land borders may be subject to closure with little warning or could become inaccessible due to a deterioration to security in the immediate vicinity. We recommend you seek local advice on the status of access routes to airports and borders before setting out on your journey and contact your airline to check whether there are any flight disruptions or cancellations. You should not attempt to enter Iraq via the Syrian border as this area is subject to restrictions on both sides.
Remaining in Syria
New Zealanders who choose to remain in Syria against our advice should keep a low profile and avoid all unnecessary travel. We recommend you ensure you have your own contingency plans for departure in place and secure a valid exit visa in your passport in advance - in case it becomes necessary to depart at short notice. We recommend stockpiling supplies of food, water, medication and fuel as shortages could occur and shops may close without warning. You should monitor developments closely through the media and heed any local advice.
Civil unrest/political tension
The overall security situation in Syria is deteriorating and there are ongoing clashes between the Syrian military and armed groups throughout the country. Violent clashes have escalated since July 2012 and heavy fighting has been reported in Damascus and Aleppo.
New Zealanders in Syria are advised to avoid all large public gatherings and demonstrations as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning. You should leave any areas where police or security forces are deployed as soon as it is safe to do so.
There is a high threat from terrorism in Syria. New Zealanders throughout Syria are advised to be security conscious at all times, particularly in public places and close to government offices or premises associated with the Syrian regime.
There have been a number of recent terrorist attacks in Syria:
On 10 May 2012, explosions in Qazzaz, a southern suburb of Damascus, reportedly killed at least fifty people and injured over 300 others.
On 30 April, there were reports that at least eight people were killed in two suicide bomb attacks in the city of Idlib.
On 27 April, at least 10 people were killed and 25 others injured in a suicide attack in Midan, central Damascus.
On 17 March, two car bomb attacks in Damascus killed at least 27 people and injured over 100 others.
The deteriorating security situation in Syria has led to an increase in violent crime in certain areas including violent robbery, carjacking and kidnapping. Kidnapping in particular is on the rise. On 19 July 2012, two journalists were kidnapped east of the Syria/Turkey border crossing at Bab al-Hawa. On 22 May, a group of Lebanese pilgrims were kidnapped in the Aleppo province. On 28 April, two Hungarian nationals were kidnapped in south-east Syria.
General travel advice
New Zealanders travelling or living in Syria 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 Syria.
Due to the ongoing violence in Syria, access to medical treatment may be limited and certain medications may be in short supply.
New Zealanders in Syria are urged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.