Bangladesh Risk Report
Security travel advice for Bangladesh
Threat level: Medium-High
There was a suicide bomb attack at the Dhaka international airport in Bangladesh on the 24th March 2017. The attack failed to inflict any injuries or casualties and had no impact on the day-to-day operations of the airport. This latest attack comes only a week after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a security forces base near the international airport in the Bangladesh capital, Dhaka, injuring two police officers.
On the 7th of July 2016, at the Kishorgonj Solakia Eid Prayer ground, north-east of Dhaka, it was reported that attackers threw explosives towards Police. Gunfire was exchanged during this incident resulting in the deaths of four people (2x Police, 1x attacker and an innocent member of the public).
Off the back of the aforementioned incident, there is a heightened threat of further terrorist attacks. Attacks could be indiscriminate, however, westerners in particular could be directly targeted. You should ensure you avoid heavily populated areas where westerners are known to gather in order to minimise the risk of being caught up in any premeditated attacks.
The 1st of July 2016 saw a terrorist 10-hour siege on a cafe that was popular with the international community in Dhaka. 20 hostages and 2 policemen were killed in the attack, thought to be carried out by ISIS extremists. 13 hostages were rescued by Bangladeshi security forces. Six terrorists were killed and one of the terrorists was arrested.
The general travel safety advice for Bangladesh is to be vigilant at all times especially in and around busy public places. There is an ongoing and elevated risk of domestic and international terrorism. Civil unrest is affluent in this country and ongoing border disputes, kidnappings and crime levels have meant that there are travel advisories for the area of Chittagong Hill Tracts with places of concern being Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban. It is advised against non-essential travel to these areas.
Recent Security Risk Events
There have been recent murders of citizens by terrorist factions that operate in the area, notably being ISIS/Daesh and Al Qaeda in the Indian Sub-continent (AQIS). These attacks have been carried out by various means such as explosives, grenades, shootings and knife attacks.
There is a high risk of terrorism and prejudice attacks upon the minorities. LGBT community has been targeted in recent times with two murders in April. Directed attacks at minority religious communities and secular bloggers, resulting in fatalities have been carried out by terrorist organisations.
From arrival in Bangladesh please be extra vigilant at transport hubs. It is advised that you make prior arrangements for airport transfers as robberies and overcharging from drivers do occur. Be wary of anyone offering luggage handling services as this could result in theft. Caution is advised at Dhaka and Sylhet airports due to passport theft, there have been known cases of bag and purse snatching.
There is a high risk of political violence and demonstrations, these can be unpredictable and can result in vandalism including arson, violent attacks on authorities and attacks on properties with disruption to public transport. It is advised you check local news and keep away from areas known to hold these demonstrations.Dates to be extra vigilant are:
- Mother Language Day (February 21)
- Independence Day (March 26)
- Bengali New Year (April 14)
- Victory Day (December 16)
As with all populous and developing countries, the levels of general crime such as theft and robbery can be high, although in Bangladesh foreigners are not particularly targeted. There are areas of concern such as Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Feni and Khulna. It is advised as with all high risk countries you remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings, to secure personal belongings and seek the advice of legitimate authorities. Please see our Consular and useful information sections for current contact details.
Bangladesh is a member of many international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and United Nations (UN). Although in the past tensions have risen with its neighbours, in general more recent advancements in political negotiations have brought friendlier relations. Countries such as Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka and India have good diplomatic relations with talks in regards to border regulations.
It is advised that females do not travel alone. Public transport links have a general low health and safety standard, there have been many deaths associated with sea (capsizing due to overcrowding), road (dangerous driving and disregard for safety) and rail travel (slow, old and unkempt rail network, previous derailments associated to civil unrest).
Roads can be extremely busy and chaotic, and a general lack of road safety is paramount in areas where there are high levels of dangerous driving. It is strongly advised you do not travel after dark.
Time now in Dhaka:
A visa is required when travelling to Bangladesh. Your passport will require at least 6 months of validity beyond the length of your stay with minimum two blank pages to hold your visa. Visa applications must be submitted to the High Commission of Bangladesh. For more information please see here: Bangladesh visa requirements
It is advised that visitors to Bangladesh are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers also get Tetanus, Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations.
Although there is no risk of Yellow Fever in Bangladesh, if you are coming from a country where there is a risk of Yellow Fever you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
There have been reports of the presence of both food and waterborne diseases in Bangladesh and include: bacterial and protozoal diarrhoea, Hepatitis A and E and Typhoid Fever. You should ensure that your personal hygiene is paramount - wash your hands before and after you eat and avoid drinking tap water wherever possible.
In some areas of the country, dengue fever and malaria pose high risks. As both are transmitted via infected mosquitoes, you should take routine precautions to avoid bites such as wearing the appropriate clothing and using mosquito nets at night time. More information on dengue fever can be found here: Dengue Fever facts
It is highly recommended full travel and medical insurance is checked for coverage prior to travel. Medical facilities in the country can vary but are generally poor standard and are lacking in staff and resources.
U.S. Embassy Dhaka
Telephone: +880 255 662 000
British High Commission Dhaka
United Nations Road
P O Box 6079
Dhaka - 1212
Telephone: +880 298 427 059
Other useful info
Fire emergency: 9 555 555
Medical emergency: 199