Somalia Travel Advice
Security travel advice for Somalia
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 25th of November 2018, two terrorist attacks occured. The first attack happened at a religious gathering in the northern town of Galkayo, killing more than 15 people and left 20 others wounded. Hours after the incident, a car bomb blast targeting a crowded marketplace in Kawo Godey in Mogadishu, killed 8 people and injured 15 others.
On the 14th of October 2017, 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.
Currency: Somalian shilling
Time now in Mogadishu:
For any nationality to enter Somalia, a passport valid for the duration of stay and a visa acquired before travel is also required. Visitors to Somalia should register with the embassy representing their country in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
It is advised that visitors to the Somalia 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 Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations and ensure that you have complete a polio vaccination course and it has been updated in the last 10 years.
Although there is a very low risk of Yellow Fever in Somalia, if you have been in a country where there is a risk of the disease or have transited for longer than 12 hours in an at risk country, you will be required to provide a vaccination certificate. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.
Medical care varies greatly out of the main cities and large towns. All medical care must be paid for on the spot. This can of course be claimed on insurance where valid.
Other health risks
There are many over crowded refugee camps in Somalia which may lead to a significant increase in disease not to mention an increased risk of crime over food security and a heightened security threat to foreigners.
Most foreigners who require medical attentions will be evacuated from the country so it is important to consider getting adequate medical insurance before travel. Acute Watery Diarrheal Syndrome and cholera are major health concerns in many areas of Somalia. Sexual contact should be avoided at all costs in Somalia if possible, as HIV is becoming more common in the country.
There is no U.S. Embassy in Somalia, anyone requiring consular assistance will have to contact the Embassy in Kenya.
U.S. Embassy Nairobi
United Nations Avenue
Telephone: +254 20 363 6451
Emergency Telephone: +254 20 363 6000
British Embassy Mogadishu
Other useful info
Police emergency: 888
Tourist Police: 888
Fire emergency: 888
Medical emergency: 888