Foreign travel advice

Ethiopia

Summary

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

  • within 10 km of the border with Eritrea, with the exception of the main road through Axum and Adigrat, and tourist sites close to the road (e.g. Debre Damo and Yeha)

  • areas off the principal roads/towns within 10 km of the borders with Sudan and Kenya

  • within 10 km of the border with South Sudan

  • the Nogob (previously Fik), Jarar (previously Degehabur), Shabelle (previously Gode), Korahe and Dollo (previously Warder) zones of the Somali region.

  • within 100 km of the Ethiopian border with Somalia and Kenya in the Afder and Liben zones of Ethiopia’s Somali region

  • the Danakil desert area: north of the Mille-Djibouti and Mille-Chifra roads, and east of the towns of Bere-Ale, Shehet, Didigsala and Chifra

  • the four woredas (districts) (Akobo, Wantawo, Jikawo and Lare) of the Nuer zone and the Jore woreda of the Agnuak zone of the Gambella region

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

  • the woredas (districts) of Tsegede, Mirab Armacho and Tach Armacho in North Gonder

  • Jijiga town in the Somali region

  • three woredas (districts) of the Agnuak zone of the Gambella region that border on South Sudan (Dima, Goge and Etang) and the Gambella wildlife reserve

Demonstrations have been taking place in the Oromia and Amhara regions in 2016 and further protests are likely. In August 2016 there were violent clashes between protestors and security forces including in Gonder, Bahir Dar, and Debretabor in Amhara. Protests may occur with little warning and can turn violent. You should avoid large crowds and remain vigilant at all times. Monitor local and international news for further information. Telecommunications are restricted. The 3G network was turned off on 6 October.

Tensions in Oromia have significantly risen since 2 October when up to 100 people died during a stampede at the Irreechaa religious festival in Oromia. Following this incident, protests and violent incidents have been reported in Shashamene, Ambo, Meki, Awasa, Nekemte, Sebeta, Ambo, Ziway and Aje.

On 8 October a number of farms and properties were destroyed in the following areas; Gelana (Borena Zone), Yirga Chefe and Dilla (Sidama Zone). You should exercise caution when travelling along Route 8 (south of Awassa) as there have been reports of roadblocks and properties attacked in towns along this road.

On 4 October, 2016, a US national travelling by car was killed by rocks thrown by protestors on the road from Holeta to Addis Ababa. On 7 November, in the Surma Woreda near Mizan in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Region, a group of Czech and Slovak Nationals were attacked and robbed by armed men who threw rocks at their car, seriously injuring one. Their Ethiopian driver was shot and subsequently died.

There has been widespread disruption to road travel across parts of Ethiopia. Unauthorised and official roadblocks can appear with little or no warning. If you encounter a roadblock you should follow the advice of local authorities at the roadblock if they’re present. If you encounter an unmanned roadblock you should not attempt to pass it and should return the way you came.

On 9 October 2016 the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency. This is expected to last at least 6 months. This announcement follows months of unrest in the Amhara and Oromia regions.

The Ethiopian government has issued a public statement (unofficial translation) outlining the measures in place under the state of emergency. These include random arrest and searches, suspension of rights to write and circulate inflammatory messages, outlawing of unauthorised demonstrations, possible curfews and blocking the internet. Failure to comply with these measures could lead to detention and/or arrest.

Restrictions on the movement of diplomats beyond Addis Ababa were lifted on 8 November 2016. However during the state of emergency it’s possible that further restrictions could be introduced at short notice that affect access to certain parts of the country. If you’re in Ethiopia and you urgently need help (eg if you’ve been attacked, arrested or there’s been a death), call the British Embassy on +251 (0)11 617 0100.

Addis Ababa remains generally calm with no reported violent incidents linked to the demonstrations in Oromia and Amhara. Domestic flights are operating in and out of airports.

There is a general threat from terrorism. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places visited by foreigners.

You should be vigilant at all times, especially in crowded areas and public places like transport hubs, hotels, restaurants, bars and places of worship and during major gatherings like religious or sporting events. There is a threat of kidnapping in Ethiopia’s Somali region, particularly in the eastern areas to which the FCO advise against all travel. See Terrorism

Crime levels are low, but you should avoid large gatherings and public demonstrations and be alert to the risk of street crime. See Crime

The Ethiopia-Eritrea border remains closed. Several security incidents have taken place along the border. The risk of cross-border tensions remains. There is a threat of kidnapping along the border. See Local travel

Owning ivory is strictly prohibited in Ethiopia. Anyone caught in possession of ivory can expect to be detained by police. See Local laws and customs

Around 20,000 British nationals visit Ethiopia every year. Most visits are trouble free.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.