- Reviewed: 19 March 2020, 13:50 NZDT
- Still current at: 3 June 2020
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On 3 January 2020, an Iranian military commander and Iraqi paramilitary leaders were killed in a U.S. airstrike near Baghdad International Airport.
The security situation in the Middle East region is unpredictable and may become increasingly volatile.
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 ensure their safety.
Extreme caution should be exercised in public places and, due to the threat of kidnapping, we recommend varying travel times and routes to avoid establishing predictable behaviour. Do not advertise your travel or other plans through social media. 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. Protracted conflict has led to a severe breakdown in government services and supplies of staple goods across Yemen. Routes in and out of Sana’a, Aden, Al Hudaydah, and other major cities and ports may become blocked at short notice. Airport infrastructure and ports have suffered damage in the conflict, and most international flights have been suspended. Sana’a Airport is not open to commercial flights.
The security environment in Yemen is highly unstable and the political situation remains volatile. There is ongoing conflict throughout the country between government forces, Houthi rebels and other groups, with a high risk of gunfire and indiscriminate shelling.There have been a number of clashes along the Yemen-Saudi Arabia border, resulting in deaths and casualties. There is no central government control over many parts of the country,overland travel is dangerous and should not be contemplated without expert local advice.
Airstrikes continue to be conducted by a Saudi Arabia led coalition against Houthi targets. Further airstrikes could occur anywhere, at any time, including in major cities such as Sana’a.
Politically-motivated demonstrations occur regularly throughout the country, including in Sana’a and Aden, 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. Military parades, significant dates and political anniversaries can act as a catalyst for terrorism, violence and civil unrest.
There is an extreme threat from terrorism in Yemen. The absence of effective government control over parts of the country means extremist and terrorist groups, such as Islamic State in Yemen and Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), are able to operate and conduct attacks.
Suicide bombings, car bombs, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and small arms attacks occur frequently throughout the country. Further terrorist attacks could occur at anytime, anywhere, including in Sana’a and Aden.
The threat of terrorist attack is particularly high for foreigners. Statements made by Yemeni-based terrorists indicate an ongoing intent to attack Westerners and western interests in Yemen, which are viewed as legitimate targets. 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, political or military gatherings and checkpoints, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, tourist sites, mosques, 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. Maintain a high level of vigilance and exercise extreme caution.
There is a very high kidnapping threat to Westerners throughout Yemen including in major cities.Terrorist groups have specifically targeted and kidnapped foreigners throughout Yemen, including in Sana’a. Hundreds of people have been kidnapped in the last 15 years.
Kidnappers have reportedly demanded large ransom payments for foreigners and there remains a strong possibility that foreigners kidnapped by tribal and criminal groups could be on-sold to terrorist groups. A number of foreigners have been killed by their kidnappers in Yemen.
Unexploded munitions and landmines remain a risk in parts of southern and eastern Yemen, especially around the city of Aden and in the central highlands. There is also a risk near Houthi frontlines in western parts of the country. While many devices have been identified and access limited, we recommend keeping to well-used paths and roads as some may remain undetected.
Piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean remains a security threat to maritime activities in the region. 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.
Photography of military establishments or officials and religious sites is prohibited. If in doubt, don’t take a picture.
Leave your passport in a safe place, and carry a photocopy for identification purposes.
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 live or travel in Yemen despite our advice are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Please note: While every care has been taken in preparing this travel advisory, neither the New Zealand Government nor its agents and employees can accept liability for any loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained therein.
See our regional advice for the Middle East