Threat level: Medium-High
Egypt is a fairly popular African country which borders the Middle East. Its security situation is dynamic and the threat of terror is quite high, although it is believed that planned attacks are generally aimed security forces or government buildings.
There are many travel advisories in place: all travel to the North Sinai district is advised against. This is due to the increasing number of terrorist attacks and steadily growing crime rates. Most tourist destinations are not included in travel advisories although air travel to and from Sharm-el-Sheikh – one of the most popular havens is advised against unless absolutely essential. This is due to what was thought to be an explosive device exploded on a plane from there to St Petersburg, Russia, killing all on board.
At present, UK flight operators have suspended all flights to Sharm-el-Sheikkh until further notice. This is thought to remain in place until at least the end of October. You should exercise extreme caution when visiting the area. Providing this is done, most trips to Egypt are pleasant and risk free.
Recent Security Risk Events
On the 26th of May 2017, masked gunmen dressed in military uniforms, opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, killing at least 26 people, including children and injuring 25. The bus came under fire as it was heading for the Monastery of St Samuel the Confessor in Minya province, 220km (140 miles) south of Cairo. No group have said they were behind the attack, but Islamic State (IS) have targeted Copts in recent months.
On the 9th of April 2017, there was a suicide bomb attack on a Coptic church in the Egyptian Nile delta city of Tanta during a Palm Sunday service. The bomb killed 26 people and more than 50 were injured. A second suicide bomimbing blast happened outside a church in Alexandria killing six people and injuring a further 66. Both bombings are thought to be the work of militant group “Liwa al-Thawra” that is aligned with ISIS.
On the 9th of December 2016 there was a bomb explosion near the pyramids at a vehicle checkpoint on Al Haram street in the Egyptian capital Cairo. Six Police officers were killed whilst carrying out searches this very busy checkpoint in the western Talibiya neighbourhood.
In January 2017 eight police officers were killed and three others badly wounded in an attack on a police checkpoint in Egypt’s New Valley province in the Western Desert. Although nobody has yet claimed responsibility it is likely that the so called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are behind this attack.
In the Sheikh Zuweid area on the 31st of January 2016, an army officer and conscript were blown up by Wilayat Sayna militants in a targeted attack.
Egyptian Police have become targets in ongoing attacks from Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, such as the March 2016 mortar attack in the North Sinai region in which at least 13 people were killed. Attacks such as suicide bombs, car bombs, and mortars alongside heavy gunfire are prominent in this region.
2015 saw an ISIS-affiliated group launch a rocket at an Egyptian Naval vessel two miles off the coast of northern Sinai which borders Israel. This event was one of the key factors in implemented a ‘no travel’ advisory to the area.
In 2009 there was a bombing of a market place in Cairo, killing a 17-year-old French teenager and injuring 24. One of the largest attacks prior to that was the 2005 Sharm-el Sheikh (bomb explosions) where 88 people were killed and over 150 were wounded.
It is not clear how much control the Egyptian government has on the present security situation or what their plans to tackle the situation might be. The Egyptian government has enhanced security the Sharm-el Sheikh and Hurghada resort areas, partially as a response to the recent attack in Tunisia.
There have been various other attacks in 2016 which have affected both nationals of the country and tourists visiting Egypt. Its popularity has decreased in recent months and years and this is partly due to the political upheaval and instability of the country at present.
There are a number of terror groups operating in Egypt and the surrounding area. The most prevalent is Ansar Bait-al-Maqdis (ABM) (“Supporters of the Holy House”, or Ansar Jerusalem, “Supporters of Jerusalem”) a Sinai-based group that has recently sworn allegiance to ISIS/ISIL. Visitors to Egypt are advised to remain on a high level of alert at all times and be aware of any suspicious activity.
In Cairo and Alexandria there are often public demonstrations. These should be avoided at all cost.
Egypt’s relations could be seen as previously strained with Israel, Denmark, Sudan, Turkey and Qatar. This is due to religious/geopolitical tensions in the bordering areas.
The country has played a role in trying to resolve the Israeli-Palestine conflict and has been a key contributor to peacekeeping efforts for many years.
Enhanced Security measures are in place for Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada resort areas. Egyptian soldiers are military targets in and around Sheikh Zuwayed, North Sinai, in the East of the country. It is advised to not visit this area.
Other drivers and conditions of the road in Egypt are variable and often hazardous, particularly in the busier cities such as Cairo. Driving regulations are regularly ignored by impatient road users, making it dangerous in places such as traffic light intersections. You should driver with extreme caution at all times.
You may want to consider alternative methods of transport or hire a drive/taxi yourself as Egyptian locals should be more knowledgeable of driving practices.
Planning journeys should be done with care to take enough food, fuel and water with your party. Map reading in Egypt is a challenge and GPS little use in some areas, so planning and preparation with good research is key to safe road travel.
Official languages: Arabic (Egyptian Arabic) Religion: Islam Currency: Egyptian pound
UK, EU and USA Passport holders travelling to Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba resorts only and for a maximum stay of 15 Days, do not require a visa prior to travelling; a free entry permission stamp will be granted upon arrival. If visitors intend to travel outside of the above-mentioned areas they must obtain a Visa.
Visitors should check the latest visa requirements with the Egyptian government or your local Embassy. Alternatively, further information can be found here: Visa Check Egypt
It is advised that visitors to Egypt are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus, Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations. You may also want to consider vaccinations for Hepatitis B, however you should check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
The medical facilities in Cairo and many of the tourist resorts are thought to be an adequate standard, however facilities beyond this are variable. You should keep this in mind if travelling away from such areas.
Hepatitis, Filariasis and rabies can flare up in the country, alongside water-borne, food-borne and insect-borne diseases. Wild polio virus has been identified in samples collected at two sewage locations in greater Cairo. Personal hygiene must be paramount, the local water supply avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. There have been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold has come to our attention.
It is highly recommended full travel and medical insurance is checked for coverage prior to travel. The medical facilities outside of Cairo are limited and basic, and treatment can prove to be extremely costly.