Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 13 January 2020, 15:38 NZDT
  • Still current at: 24 January 2020

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Do not travel

Do not travel within 25 kilometres of the border areas with Sudan, Ethiopia and Djibouti, including the town of Teseney and areas north and west of Barentu, Ak’ordat and Nakh’fa due to ongoing tensions in Eritrea’s relations with these countries, the presence of landmines and the risk of violence, including armed banditry.

Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel elsewhere in Eritrea due to the unpredictable security situation which has the potential to deteriorate with little warning should tensions between Eritrea and neighbouring countries escalate.

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Violent Crime
Street crime is rare but is increasingly happening in cities and towns, particularly pickpocketing against foreigners. Armed banditry is common near the border with Djibouti, along the coast north of Massawa, and on some rural roads.

New Zealanders in Eritrea are advised to be security conscious at all times and should avoid walking and travelling at night, particularly to isolated areas. As victims of robbery are often targeted due to their perceived wealth, it is advisable to avoid wearing or displaying items that appear valuable, such as electronic devices and jewellery.

There are extensive minefields in Eritrea, particularly in border areas which continue to cause occasional injury or death. Some may not be marked and travelling or walking in rural or remote areas can be dangerous. We advise you not to stray off well-used public roads and paths.

Piracy has been reported in the coastal waters off Eritrea in the Gulf of Arden, and remains a significant threat. Mariners are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate precautionary measures in these waters. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau's piracy report.

Civil Unrest
On 31 October 2017, many protesters took to the streets in Asmara and there were reports of gunfire from local security forces to disperse the crowd. Whilst such incidents are rare, New Zealanders in Eritrea are advised to avoid all demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings as even those intended as peaceful have the potential to turn violent with little warning. Monitor local and international media, review personal security plans and be aware of your surroundings.

Terrorist attacks in Eritrea can’t be ruled out, and could occur at any time. Be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places.

General travel advice
All foreign nationals are required to apply in advance for travel permits from the Eritrean Department of Protocol to leave the capital Asmara. Processing can take up to 24 hours. New Zealanders in Eritrea should be aware of and adhere to all laws, regulations and any restrictions in place on travel to certain areas of Eritrea, as they are strictly enforced by Eritrean authorities.

New Zealanders are advised to respect religious, social and cultural traditions in Eritrea to avoid offending local sensitivities. Modesty and discretion should be exercised in both dress and behaviour.

Telephone and internet networks are unreliable and may only work for limited amount of hours in a day, even in larger towns and cities.

Photography of government buildings and military establishments or officials, is prohibited - if in doubt, don’t take a picture.

As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Eritrea, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens who require consular assistance is severely limited. 

New Zealanders travelling or living in Eritrea should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. Medical facilities may be limited.

New Zealanders travelling or resident in Eritrea are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

See our regional advice for Africa

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