Syria Risk Report

Security travel advice for Syria

Security information

Threat level: High
It is highly recommended against travelling to any parts of Syria unless absolutely necessary. Anyone already in the country should seek to leave immediately. The country is in a state of ongoing conflict with widespread fighting that is affecting most of the country, including the vicinity of the airport. There is no available consular assistance in the country and you will not be able to receive help if required. As such, it is urgent that you leave the country at all costs.

Large areas of Syria are no longer under government ruling – the north, south and east are all considered to be in the control of Daesh (formerly ISIL). Daesh is considered to oppose strongly to Western culture and values, meaning that threat to Western travellers and areas are imminent.

More than 11 million Syrian citizens have been killed or displaced from their homes since the beginning of the conflict. It is considered to be one of the worst humanitarian crises in current times.

Recent Security Risk Events
The violent clashes between the government and anti-government protestors – often armed with dangerous weapons – means that there are frequent explosions, gun fire and disruption across the country.

The high threat of terrorism remains in Syria as continued attacks cause large numbers of fatalities and injuries on a regular basis. Airports are often closed down for lengthy periods of time with little warning if violence and threat increases in surrounding areas.

Security Risks

Along with the dangers of the conflict in Syria, there has been an increase in kidnappings in the country, particularly in Aleppo and Damascus. This poses extreme danger as many criminals involved in kidnappings actively select Western foreigners and are often undertaken by the terrorist group Daesh.

Be extremely cautious of public places and at all times keep a low profile in order not to attract particular attention. Avoid large crowds as these could lead to political demonstrations that could become violent. Be vigilant when entering Syria and avoid travelling alone and especially after dark. Do not take any photographs of public gatherings, military activity or anything that may be seen as a sensitive matter.

If you do stay in Syria despite all advice against this, ensure that you keep updated with local and national news and do not get involved in any conflict. You should also make sure that your travel documents are up to date to avoid trouble when asked to present them.

International Relations
Since the ongoing civil war, Syria has remained increasingly isolated from countries in the region and many diplomatic relations have been severed with the wider international community.

Russia has been a political ally since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in 2011 and is one of Syria’s most important international supporter in providing political and military aid. However, in September 2015, the Russian Federation authorised the use of armed forces in Syria targeting members of several rebel groups.

Travel considerations
It is strongly advised not to travel to Syria as foreigners may be a potential target for terrorist attacks, assassination and kidnapping for ransom or political gain.

Due to the security situation and the high level of fighting and violence in Syria, road travel is particularly dangerous, with many roads being either blocked or closed. Driving standards and roads are also poor with an extremely high accident rate .Take extra precaution of major highways such as Tartous-Latakia, Tartous-Homs, Latakia-Aleppo, Homs-Hama, Homs-Damascus and Damascus-Jordan that are continuously closed.

Although there has been an increase in the number of security force checkpoints on major routes, make sure to check the status of all routes as some border crossings are led by opposition groups that could be a target for potential attacks.

There is a high threat of improvised explosive devices (IED) and landmines on roads throughout Syria. Seek local advice before travelling around locations such as Tadmur and Manbij. Avoid veering off main roads at all costs.

General information

Capital: Damascus
Official languages: Arabic
Religion: Islam (Sunni)
Currency: Syrian pound (SYP)
Time now in Damascus:

Visa requirements
Although travel to Syria is highly advised against, should you continue with your journey you must apply for a visa prior to departure for the country. This can be obtained from your closest Syrian Embassy or Consulate. If the length of stay exceeds 15 days you will have to get your visa extended at the immigration office to prevent difficulties when leaving the country.

Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months beyond the length of your proposed stay. If your passport contains an Israeli stamp it is highly likely you will not be allowed to enter Syria.

Immunisations
It is advised that visitors to Syria are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. You should ensure that you have been further vaccinated against diseases such as Tetanus and Polio which is usually administered when you are a young baby - your doctor should be able to give you more information on this. You may also want to consider Typhoid and Hepatitis A vaccinations. Check with your local health professional prior to travel if you are unsure.

Other health risks
Many hospitals have been destroyed in Syria and those that remain are very poor quality which are often subject to mortar attacks. It is difficult for hospitals to get the right equipment and supplies they need to function properly, they rely heavily on aid and donations which have become less consistent in recent years. If you go against the advice of the British FCO and do decide to travel to Syria, be sure to take adequate medical supplies and personal medication for your trip.

Many doctors and other health professionals have become high priority targets of kidnappings from the terrorist organisation Daesh. There have been several recent incidents of local doctors and nurses being kidnapped and later executed. The result of this means there is a huge shortage of much needed health care professionals among the few remaining hospitals in the country.

The destruction of medical infrastructures has resulted in regular outbreaks of infectious diseases across the country. Dead bodies are often left unattended and can easily spread life threatening diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera and plague. You should take precautions against such dangerous biohazards.

Consular information

U.S. Embassy
The U.S. Embassy in Damascus suspended operations in February 2012. If you require emergency consular assistance, the Czech Republic Embassy acts as protecting power for U.S. citizens in the country, however they can only offer a limited range of services.

Embassy of the Czech Republic
Damascus
P.O.Box 2249
Syria
Telephone: +96311 333 1383, +96311 333 9395 or +96311 333 0935
Telephone: +96311 333 6259 (Consular section)
Email: damascus@embassy.mzv.cz

British Embassy
The British Embassy in the capital of Syria has withdrawn all staff and no can longer provide services or consular assistance. If you require emergency assistance you can visit any EU Member State’s Embassies. Alternatively, in an emergency you can call the FCO in London on (+44) 20 700 815 00.

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      At the moment all emergency numbers including police are ineffective in Syria.

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