Threat level: High
The current travel advice for Somalia is to avoid all travel to this country at any cost. Not only is the level of serious crime in Somalia substantially high but terrorist groups such as Al Shabab, operate in many parts of Somalia above any law or jurisdiction. It is advised that foreign nationals leave do not travel to Somalia due to a high risk of kidnappings. There have also been many cases of executions of foreign nationals in recent years.
There is also a high threat of piracy in the Gulf of Aden. Piracy is one of Somalia’s major issues. All sailing yachts under their own passage or any other private vessels should remain out of the areas of the Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea that surround Somalia, as attacks are highly likely.
Recent Security Risk Events
On the 14th of October, at least 300 people were killed and 100 injured in a truck bomb blast in Mogadishu that transported hundred kilograms of military-grade and homemade explosives. The bomb targeted Somalia’s foreign ministry, demolished the Safari Hotel and severely damaged other buildings, including the Qatar Embassy premises. It is the deadliest in the history of Somalia.
In January 2017 13 people were killed and many others injured in a coordinated gun-and-bomb attack carried out by al-Shabab at a popular hotel in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu. In the same month Al-Shabaab killed 66 Kenyan soldiers in a coordinated attack on the city of Kulbiyow.
On the 31st of July 2016 there were two explosions outside of a police department in the capital of the country. The bombs rocked the gate of Somalia’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Mogadishu. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in which at least 15 wete killed, 7 of them civilians after the gunmen stormed police HQ. The attack is reported to have lasted half an hour, triggered by two explosions.
In June 2016 Naso-Hablod hotel in Mogadishu was attacked by Al-Shabaab militants. Several people were killed during this attack, including security guards, civilians and some of the attackers. Al-Shabaab attacks such as this incident are common in the capital.
Al Shabaab, a deadly and highly active terrorist group, and other notorious terrorist organisations and crime syndicates who are opposed to the Somali government and police force continue to carry out attacks in and around the Mogadishua area, other areas of Somalia and the separated state of Somaliland. Terrorist groups active in these areas have made threats against western travellers and those working for no government organisations in Somalia and Somaliland. There is ongoing serious violence between terror groups and government forces.
Terror attacks, including suicide bombings, occur frequently in Somalia. Attacks are mostly targeted at government officials and government buildings, popular hotels, restaurants and public transport including the international airport. More attacks targeted at high profile people are likely to occur.
There is a heightened threat of kidnapping for westerners in Somalia and Somaliland. Kidnapping is usually for financial gain or a political incentive and have been performed by both terrorists and criminals alike. A number of western nationals have been kidnapped in Somalia in recent years. The policy of the British government and other western nations is not to make substantive negotiations to hostage-takers.
Petty theft and serious crime is also major problems in Somalia. If for whatever reason you are in the country, extra care should be taken to keep valuables and sensitive travel documents safe.
Security precautions must be taken during travel in Somalia. It is highly advised not to enter the country without a security detail.
It is not uncommon for Somali men to walk hand in hand as a sign of platonic friendship, but it would be unwise for foreign men to do the same as homosexuality is punishable by death in Somalia, even for travellers.
Somalia has diplomatic relationships with many western nations including, France, Great Britain and the United States. Somalia is a member of the United Nations and the African Union. The country also has a rich historical and diplomatic relationships with United Arab Emirates, both countries are members of the League of Arab States. There are also strong ties between many countries of Asia and Somalia, both China and Japan are included.
Road conditions are bad in Somalia and the general driving standards are poor. Somalia is mostly made up of deserts and it is highly recommended to use four wheel drive vehicles if you decide to travel independently.
The general advice is not to drive in Somalia, even though it is possible to do so, if you wish to cross into Somaliland or other bordering countries, borders are generally sealed, and always dangerous.
Bandits are very common on isolated roads in Somalia and can often be linked to terrorist organisations. It is advised not to stray from the main cities.