Lebanon Risk Report
Security travel advice for Lebanon
Threat level: High
Visitors to Lebanon are advised to remain highly vigilant throughout their stay due to the ongoing conflict and terrorism in the country. Many regions are unstable both politically and culturally, carrying a high risk to visitors.
Recent Security Risk Events
There have been car explosions as recently as 2016 in Lebanon, with further attacks outside the refugee area, Saia, highly likely. The Palestine refugee camps have a long history of violent clashes with very little law and order, and all travel to this area is highly advised against.
A suicide bomb attack in the town of Al Qaa in July 2016 injured a number of citizens. You should avoid all travel to this area.
2015 saw explosions in the southern area of Beirut, Burj-al-Barajneh, with 43 people killed and 239 injured. Cross border shelling and attacks on the military are frequent in the areas of Majidiyeh, Kfarshouba, Abbasiye and Wazzani.
Further incidents include a suicide bomb attack in the Jabel Mohsen area of Tripoli which killed 9 people and left many more injured.
There is a high threat from terrorist activity throughout the country and more so in the Bekaa Valley (west of the Baalbek El Hermel high way) in Saida and south of the Litani River. In 2014 there were 16 bombings alone across the country, with attacks taking place in Wadi Khaled, Al Qaa, Hermel, Baalbek and Aarsal in the Bekaa Valley. Travellers are advised to remain on high alert and be wary of any suspicious behaviour during their visit.
Lebanon is perhaps the most diverse country in the Middle East. There have been times of peace but this can and has deteriorated quickly in the past, triggered by international, regional or local events.
The risks of being caught up in a terrorist incident are quite high and there is a heightened threat of kidnapping; Lebanon and its associated terror groups have been well-known for carrying out some of the longest cases of kidnapping. There was a long spate of kidnapping known as the “Lebanon hostage crisis” which ran from 1982 to 1992 and involved 96 foreign hostages.
Civilians can sometimes get held up in attacks and it is advised that you leave any area where you see a security operation being undertaken. Tourist destinations such as hotels, shopping centres and restaurants can be the target for attacks aimed at westerners.
It is a concern in the intelligence community that the situation with ISIS/ISIL will spill into Lebanon. Maj-Gen Abbas Ibrahim, the head of Lebanon's General Security intelligence agency has stated that ISIL/ISIS have said that “Lebanon would be in the eye of the storm”.
The level of general crime is quite low in Lebanon but there have been some robberies and bag-snatching. There have also been some incidents with (un-official) taxi drivers robbing their passengers. The best advice is to use an official taxi service and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Lebanon has had ongoing conflicts and territorial and border disputes for many years with Syria and Israel. During its occupation, Syria had influenced Lebanon's foreign policy and internal policies. They signed a treaty in 2005 that agreed to mutual cooperation.
Lebanon enjoys friendly relations with fellow pro-Western Arab states such as Turkey and has a particularly strong relationship with Saudi Arabia.
There are road closures in place in Lebanon including main roads such as the Beirut Airport road. It is best not to travel at night due to the driving conditions and the hazardous driving standards. You must carry ID on you at all times in the case of check points and remain vigilant at all times when at these hotspots.
An international driving license is required if you are planning on driving in Lebanon. Other drivers can be aggressive and pay little attention to regulations so drive with caution.
If you hear gunfire make you way inside to the nearest building if possible, this could be a celebratory act or forthcoming violence, either way it is best to go inside until this subsides.
Please note that Lebanon is in an active earthquake zone, however this is currently quiet geologically.
Religion: Islam & Christianity
Currency: Lebanese Pound
Time now in Beirut:
British and U.S visitors (and some other countries) can obtain a visa upon arrival in Lebanon without prior application from an Embassy or Consulate. Further advice can be found here: Visa advice Lebanon
It is advised that visitors to Lebanon are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus, which is usually administered when you are a young baby. You may also want to consider a Hepatitis A vaccination. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Other health risks
Personal hygiene must be paramount and the local water supply avoided at all costs. Drink only bottled water and inspect prior to consumption. A number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold have been reported.
Many hospitals in Lebanon are of high standard and well equipped, with most staff able to speak English and French if necessary. Treatment can prove extremely costly so it is recommended that you purchase adequate travel health insurance before you visit the country.
Air pollution is an issue in Beirut, it is advised you limit your exposure to areas where lime powder is used, and if necessary wear a facial mask.
U.S. Embassy Beirut
Awkar facing the Municipality,
P.O. Box 70-840,
Telephone: +961 454 2600
Telephone: +961 454 3600
British Embassy Beirut
Beirut Central District,
Telephone: +961 196 0800
Other useful info
Police emergency: 112
Police emergency: Beirut 01 300575
Police emergency: Tripoli 06 430950
Fire emergency: 175
Medical emergency (Red Cross): 140
Medical emergency (Doctors at Home): 01 444400