Threat level: Low-Medium
There is a high threat from attacks launched by terrorist organisations such as Al Shabaab in Djibouti with attacks being as recent as 2016. Travel to the border with Eritrea and Somalia is highly advised against, the risk of terrorism and armed conflicts increases significantly in these areas. Foreign nationals, especially those from western countries are thought to be high priority targets to terrorists and are at an increased risk of being kidnapped.
Recent Security Risk Events
La Chaumierel, a popular restaurant in Djibouti City, was attacked by suicide bombers on 24 May 2014. This resulted in some deaths and many more casualties, including a number of foreign nationals. Exercise a high level of vigilance in public places and popular tourist locations.
Djibouti has been affected by the recent migrant crisis as the country is a main route for those fleeing the conflict in Yemen. With this there has been a significant increase in crime. Avoid travel to areas such as Mouhoule where there are high populations of migrants.
Groups of armed bandits operate in rural areas of the country. It is advised not to travel outside the main cities anyway, but you should never drive anywhere after dark as the risk of attacks increases significantly. If you are travelling outside of the main cities you should also consider travelling in convoys.
The country suffers from high crime rates most frequently inside the main cities. Thieves and pick pockets operate in Djibouti City. Foreign nationals are prime targets due to their perceived wealth. You should avoid carrying large sums of cash on your person and having expensive jewellery on display. Many reports of theft occur at night time, and as such you should avoid travelling alone at night in the main cities.
Djibouti has a predominantly Muslim population. You should dress in an appropriate manner and be aware that bikinis and revealing clothing are banned. Homosexual behaviour is illegal and the penalties for acts of homosexual behaviour are severe. Drinking alcohol is permitted, but drunken behaviour could result in a prison sentence for up to two years so drink alcohol cautiously. During Ramadan you should show respect to those who are fasting and take care not to offend Islamic values.
Djibouti maintains close diplomatic relationships with Somalia, Ethiopia, France and the United States. It is also an active member of the African Union, United Nations and Arab League affairs. Foreign aid from the United States plays a main role in Djibouti’s economy.
You can drive in Djibouti with most national driving licences from the EU, US and UK. Roads are poor and are often difficult to navigate even with four wheel drive vehicles. Land mines are common in the northern districts of Obock and Tadjoura and the southern district of Ali Sabeih.