Yemen

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Tuesday, 02 June 2015.   Australians remaining in Yemen should depart immediately. The Australian Government is no longer able to provide practical consular assistance to Australians in Yemen. We are not able to assist you to depart, or evacuate you if you remain in Yemen (see Safety and security). The level of this advice has not changed. We continue to advise Australians not to travel to Yemen, including the island of Socotra.

Yemen overall

Summary

  • Australians remaining in Yemen should depart immediately. The Australian Government is no longer able to provide practical consular assistance in Yemen. We are not able to assist you to depart, or evacuate you if you remain in Yemen.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to Yemen because of the widening civil and international conflict and extreme political instability. There is a very high threat of kidnapping and terrorist attack. Our long-standing advice against travel to Yemen includes the island of Socotra.
  • Government forces, Houthi and other groups are engaged in violent conflict throughout Yemen.
  • Airstrikes continue to be conducted by regional countries.
  • There have been severe disruptions to air travel and other departure options. Airport infrastructure and some ports have suffered damage in the current conflict. Most regular international flights have been suspended until further notice.
  • Australia does not have an embassy in Yemen. Due to security concerns Australian officials have been instructed not to travel to Yemen until further notice.
  • If the limited departure options have delayed your exit from Yemen, you should take shelter in a safe place, adopt a low profile and explore all available options to leave. Due to the ongoing conflict, you should take advice from local authorities or competent security experts before seeking to depart Yemen by road.
  • We strongly recommend that you:
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Entry and exit

We advise against all travel to Yemen, including the island of Socotra.

Women in Yemen can be subjected to strict family controls and may be prevented from leaving the country. A Yemeni husband may legally prevent his wife from leaving the country, regardless of her nationality.

Children under 18 years must have their father's permission to leave the country, regardless of the status of their parents' marriage and who has been granted custody.

Safety and security

We strongly advise you not to travel to Yemen because of the widening civil and international conflict and extreme political instability. There is a very high threat of kidnapping and terrorist attack. Attacks are highly likely against Yemeni Government interests as well as Western interests.

Government forces, Houthi and other groups are engaged in violent conflict throughout Yemen. Airstrikes continue to be conducted by regional countries.

There have been severe disruptions to air travel and other departure options. Most regular international flights have been suspended until further notice. Some airport infrastructure has been damaged in the current conflict.

Australians remaining in Yemen should depart immediately. If the limited departure options have delayed your exit from Yemen, you should take shelter in a safe place, adopt a low profile and explore all available options to leave. Due to the ongoing conflict, you should take advice from local authorities or competent security experts before seeking to depart Yemen by road.

The Australian Government is no longer able to provide practical consular assistance in Yemen. Due to security concerns, Australian officials have been instructed not to travel to Yemen until further notice. Both the US and UK governments have withdrawn all diplomatic staff and suspended the operations of their Embassies in Yemen.

Terrorism

High threat of kidnapping: There is a very high threat of kidnapping throughout Yemen, including in Sana’a. In recent years, a number of foreigners have been kidnapped, including within Sana’a and areas surrounding the city, and in other cities including Ta’iz. In December 2014, a US citizen and a South African citizen were killed during a rescue attempt.

In addition to the kidnapping threat from the terrorist groups, tribal and criminal groups also kidnap foreigners in Yemen and can sell them to terrorist groups.

Foreigners, including Australians, have been kidnapped by terrorists and by tribesmen with grievances against the Yemeni government. Kidnappers have reportedly demanded large ransom payments to release their captives.

Examples of kidnapping of foreigners include:

  • In February 2015, a French national working with an international organisation was kidnapped in Sana’a.
  • In April 2014, two US nationals were subject to an attempted kidnapping in Sana’a.
  • In January and February 2014, several foreigners were kidnapped in separate incidents in Sana’a.
  • In September and October 2013, a foreigner working with the UN and a foreign journalist were kidnapped in Sana’a.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place and seek professional security advice. See our Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

High threat of terrorism: There is a very high threat of terrorism throughout Yemen. This includes attacks which seek to inflict mass civilian casualties and the targeting of Westerners. Terrorists can launch attacks in all parts of Yemen.

Any identifiable Western interest could be targeted for attack. Attacks against foreigners occur in both urban and provincial areas.

Australians in Yemen should seek professional security advice. Australians should adopt strict security procedures and carefully consider the necessity of all travel. Australians of all backgrounds should consider themselves to be a potential target for attack, regardless of location or length of stay in Yemen, occupation or ethnic or religious background. You should remain vigilant at all times. Ensure that you maintain a low profile and vary your routines to ensure patterns in behaviour and movement do not become apparent to observers.

Previous examples of attacks on foreigners, including Westerners, and Western interests include:

  • On 3 December 2014, the Iranian Ambassador’s residence in Sana’a was the target of a bomb attack.
  • On 27 September 2014, there was a rocket attack on the US embassy where several Yemeni guards were injured.
  • In May 2014, two French nationals were shot in Sana’a, one killed and one injured.
  • In April 2014, a German national was shot and injured in Sana’a.

Possible terrorist targets: Yemeni government interests are routinely targeted for attack by terrorists. Australians in Yemen should exercise extreme caution near facilities and installations belonging to the Yemeni authorities, including deployments of security forces and ministries. Houthi interests could also be targeted. Recent incidents include:

  • On 20 March 2015, bomb attacks in two mosques in Sana’a and in Saada, which were claimed by an ISIL-affiliate, killed at least 126 people.
  • On 7 January 2015, an attack against the Police Academy of Sana’a killed at least 37 people, wounding a further 66 people.
  • On 16 December 2014, two car bombs killed at least 31 people, including 20 children, in the central Yemen city of Radaa.

The types of foreign interests targeted for attack include foreign officials, business travellers, tourists, and foreign residents. It also includes embassies, diplomatic vehicles, international businesses and hotels. Terrorists may also be planning attacks on oil infrastructure in Yemen. Several attacks against oil interests and kidnappings of foreign oil workers have occurred in recent years. Further such incidents could occur in any part of Yemen.

In planning your activities, no location in Yemen should be considered immune from violence.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist Threat Overseas bulletin.

Civil unrest/political tension

The political and security situation is extremely volatile. Regional countries have conducted airstrikes in several locations in Yemen. Violence has escalated in Sana'a, Taiz, Aden and other cities. Further violence is likely.

Significant dates and political anniversaries can act as a catalyst for violence and civil unrest. Events associated with the reunification of North and South Yemen (such as the period surrounding Unity Day on 22 May) have in the past seen significant civil unrest and clashes should be avoided as further violence could occur.

International events may trigger demonstrations. Demonstrations took place in front of the US Embassy in Sana’a on 13 September 2012 following the release of the film ‘Innocence of Muslims’. Further demonstrations may occur.

Avoid all demonstrations and protests: If you are in Yemen despite our strong advice, you should avoid all political rallies, large crowds, protests and demonstrations as they often turn violent. Take particular care in the period surrounding Friday prayers. Try to remain indoors in such circumstances. Monitor the media for any new safety and security risks, including significant political events that may inflame existing tensions.

Protests and demonstrations may also affect your ability to travel by road.

Crime

Weapons are readily available within Yemen and the tribes are often heavily armed.

Armed carjacking has occurred in many parts of the country. Drive with your vehicle's doors locked and windows up at all times.

Petty crime, such as pickpocketing and bag snatching, is rare but does occur. Credit card fraud, such as skimming, also occurs.

Unaccompanied women can be vulnerable to harassment. Women should take care when travelling alone, particularly at night.

Money and valuables

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local Travel

The security situation remains volatile with widespread disruption to air travel and other departure options. Travel by road in conflict-affected areas is particularly dangerous and should not be contemplated without expert local advice.

Unexploded munitions, including anti-personnel landmines, are a danger in the central highlands and in the southern and eastern regions, particularly around Aden, and in Sa’ada province.

You should seek the advice of the Yemeni authorities before entering Yemeni waters or ports. Many areas are sensitive from a security or territorial point of view.

Piracy: There is a high threat of piracy in the coastal areas of Yemen. There have been attacks by pirates against all forms of shipping in and around Yemen’s waters and the Gulf of Aden. Pirates have been using motherships to attack shipping further than 1,000 nautical miles (1,850km) from the coast of Somalia.

All forms of shipping are attractive targets for Somali pirates, including commercial vessels, pleasure craft (yachts etc) and luxury cruise liners. We strongly advise Australians to exercise extreme caution when anywhere near these waters.

For more information about piracy, see our Piracy bulletin. The International Maritime Bureau issues piracy reports.

Airline safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See instead the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Yemen.

Please also refer to our general air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Yemen, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you’re arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Australians who might engage in activities that involve local legal matters, particularly with regard to family law (divorce, child custody and child support), are strongly advised to seek professional advice and ensure they are aware of their rights and responsibilities. See 'Dual nationality' below.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are range from imprisonment and/or fine to death.

Homosexuality is illegal. Penalties for acts of sodomy range from imprisonment to death. See our LGBTI travellers page.

The death penalty can also be imposed for murder and some terrorism-related offences.

Some offences, including consuming alcohol in public, slander and adultery, are punishable with corporal punishment (lashing).

It is illegal to photograph government buildings, military personnel and installations, including airports and equipment, and other sensitive infrastructure. Military sites are not always clearly marked or defined.

Preaching religion other than Islam in public (except in churches) and attempting to convert Muslims is illegal.

There are restrictions on the sale of alcohol and pork. Customs authorities at border entry points will confiscate these products and in some cases travellers have been detained at borders because of the smell of alcohol on their breath.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to begin in mid-June 2015. During Ramadan, Australians travelling to countries with significant Muslim communities should take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, people who are not fasting are advised to avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. For more information see our Ramadan travel bulletin.

There are strict Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Yemen. Any disrespect for Islam will cause great offence. You should be modest in both your dress and behaviour. You should take care not to offend. If in doubt, seek local advice.

Women are advised to wear a headscarf and cover their arms and legs, while men should avoid wearing shorts or unbuttoned shirts.

Non-Muslims may not enter mosques in Yemen.

Public displays of affection may cause offence.

It is generally unacceptable for unmarried couples to live together. Hotels may refuse accommodation to couples unable to provide proof of marriage.

Dual nationality

Yemen does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australian/Yemeni dual nationals who are arrested or detained.

Australian/Yemeni dual nationals may be required to complete national service obligations if they visit Yemen. For further information, contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Yemen before you travel.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

The standard of medical facilities in Yemen is very basic. The current conflict has exacerbated difficulties associated with accessing medical services. Private health care facilities generally require payment at the time of treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident or for complex procedures, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities could be necessary. Medical evacuation costs are considerable.

Cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) have been reported in a number of countries in the Middle East, including Yemen. Other countries outside the Middle East have also reported imported cases from returned travellers. See our MERS-CoV travel bulletin.

Malaria occurs throughout Yemen, except in areas above 2,000 metres. Chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria have been reported. Other insect-borne diseases (including dengue, filariasis and leishmaniasis) are common. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria where necessary and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, measles, schistosomiasis, polio and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

The altitude in the Sana’a region can cause problems for travellers, particularly those who suffer from lung, heart or chest problems.

Where to get help

The Australian Government is no longer able to provide practical consular assistance in Yemen. Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Yemen, and due to security concerns, Australian officials have been instructed not to travel to Yemen until further notice.

Both the US and UK governments have withdrawn all diplomatic staff and temporarily suspended operations of their embassies in Yemen.

The Australian Embassy in Saudi Arabia can provide consular advice:

Australian Embassy, Riyadh

Abdullah Bin Hozafa Al-Shami Avenue
Diplomatic Quarter
Riyadh
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
Telephone: (966 11) 2500 900
Facsimile: (966 11) 2500 902
Website: www.saudiarabia.embassy.gov.au

See the embassy website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision. The working week is Sunday to Thursday, in accordance with local practice.

In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the Embassy, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

If you are travelling to Yemen, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we strongly recommend you register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

The monsoon season is from June to September, sometimes resulting in flooding. Sandstorms and dust storms also occur. Yemen is subject to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.