Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 3 December 2018, 13:46 NZDT
  • Still current at: 20 October 2019

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Do not travel

Do not travel to Somalia, including Somaliland. New Zealanders currently in Somalia are advised to leave. There is a significant threat from terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict and a high level of violent crime throughout the country.

New Zealanders who decide to travel to Somalia against our advice should ensure that appropriate personal security protection measures are in place at all times. We strongly recommend you consult a reputable security company with experience in Somalia for advice on security arrangements. Security arrangements should be reviewed on a regular basis. Such measures may mitigate the risks to your safety but cannot eliminate them entirely. No part of Somalia can be considered safe. This includes large cities such as Mogadishu and Kismayo.

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There is a extreme threat from terrorism throughout Somalia. Terrorist attacks could occur without warning at anytime, anywhere in Somalia and often involve car bombs, multiple explosions and heavily armed gunmen.

The threat is particularly high in the capital Mogadishu, where terrorist group Al Shabaab continues to conduct attacks on a regular basis. Previous attacks have specifically targeted foreigners and personnel from international organisations.

On 23 February 2018, a suicide car-bombing near the Presidential Palace killed at least 32 people.

On 14 October 2017, a large truck bomb exploded in central Mogadishu, killing 358 people and injuring 228.

On 28 October 2017 extremist attackers killed 23 and injured at least 30 people at Nasa-Hablod hotel in Mogadishu.

Other attacks have targeted government buildings, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, public transport and Mogadishu international airport. Further attacks are likely and may target crowded places, high-profile events and events involving government officials.

New Zealanders in Somalia should monitor local information sources for information on new safety and security risks as the security situation can change very quickly.

There is an on-going, very high threat of kidnapping throughout Somalia, including in Puntland and Somaliland. Kidnappers may be motivated by financial gain or terrorism. The threat to foreigners is high and a number of foreign nationals have been kidnapped in Somalia in recent years, and some have been killed.

In addition to taking professional security advice, you should vary your routines to avoid setting predictable patterns of movement, particularly around travel routes.

Violent Crime
Levels of violent crime, including murder, armed robbery and banditry are very high in Somalia and there is no effective police force in place to enforce the rule of law.

Civil Unrest
Inter-clan tensions remain high between the self-declared republic of Somaliland and Puntland region of Somalia, and the security situation is unpredictable. Protests or inter-clan conflicts can erupt into violence with little warning. 

New Zealanders are advised to avoid all demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings in Somalia. If you are in an area affected by demonstrations or violence, you should leave the area if it is safe to do so, or find a safe location, remain indoors and heed any local advice.

Piracy against all forms of maritime traffic is a significant issue in the coastal waters off Somalia, including at some distance from the coast. Mariners are advised to exercise a heightened degree of vigilance and take appropriate precautionary measures in Somali waters. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau's piracy report.

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

We offer advice to New Zealanders about contingency planning that travellers to Somalia should consider.

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

New Zealanders travelling or living in Somalia 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 Somalia – exclusions may well apply. Only very limited medical facilities are available in Somalia and there are shortages of even the most basic medical supplies.

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

Travel tips

See our regional advice for Africa

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