Threat level: Medium
The current terror threat level in Eritrea is low, but be aware a number of terrorist incidents have been reported along the border with Ethiopia. Tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia are high and it is advised not to travel within 25km of these border areas. Eritrea’s border with Sudan is also a high risk area and you should avoid travel if possible. There is also a high risk of land mines and other unexploded ordinance in both these areas.
Recent Security Risk Events
Since 2008 there has been an ongoing armed conflict between Djibouti and Eritrea after an incursion of Eritrean forces into the disputed Djibouti border region. The situation remains tense and civilians have been caught up in the fighting in the past. Travel within 30 km of Eritrea’s border with Djibouti is highly advised against.
There are extensive mine fields spread throughout the whole of Eritrea, many people die each year in the country from landmines. You should only ever drive on the main roads that are marked on maps. Avoid driving on non-metalled roads and walking or hiking in the countryside.
Petty and serious crime occurs in many areas of the country. The city of Asmara has experienced an increase in pick pocketing and other petty crimes such as bag snatching. You shouldn’t carry large sums of cash as foreign nationals are often targeted by thieves due to their perceived wealth. Avoid walking alone at night and have photocopies of any sensitive travel documents.
The government of Eritrea’s civilian militia programme means that most citizens of the country own fire arms. There have been some cases of armed robbery and armed car hijackings in recent years. Exercise particular caution at all times, avoid driving at night and drive in a convoy if possible. Your hotel should have sufficient security measures in places included a night time security guard.
Eritrea’s relationship with the EU and the United States are currently very strained. Eritrea also has very tense relations with neighbouring countries Ethiopia and Djibouti, and it maintains a military force on its border with Ethiopia roughly equal in size to Ethiopia’s force. Despite these tense relations Eritrea is still a member of the United Nations and the African Union.
Be aware that all foreign nationals need a travel permit to leave Asmara. The driving license policy isn’t enforced heavily and you can drive in Eritrea with most UK, EU and US driving licences, although hiring a car can be difficult sometimes. You should never give your passport as a deposit for motor vehicle hire.
Avoid travelling after dark in rural areas, keep the risk of landmines in mind whilst driving anywhere outside of Asmara.