Foreign travel advice

Ethiopia

Summary

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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 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

  • 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

The State of Emergency called in October 2016 in response to protests and unrest in the Oromia and Amhara regions was lifted on 4 August 2017.

Internet services, disconnected on 30 May 2017, have now been restored. However internet and other mobile data services can be restricted without notice, hampering the British Embassy’s ability to assist you. You should have alternative communication plans in place when travelling in Ethiopia. If you’re in Ethiopia and you urgently need help (eg if you’ve been attacked, arrested or there has been a death), call +251 (0)11 617 0100. If you’re in the UK and concerned about a British national in Ethiopia, call 020 7008 1500.

On 3 December 2017, a German tourist was shot and killed and an Ethiopian guide shot and wounded while sightseeing at Erta Ale, in the Danakil area of the Afar region of north-east Ethiopia. There is now an increased military and police presence in the area. Travel may be disrupted and entry to some sites may be prohibited at short notice. If you’re in the area, exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities. You should only travel to this area with a recognised tour company - such tours are normally supported by an armed police or military escort.

Tensions are raised on the border between the Somali Region and Oromia following recent local clashes in a number of locations in East and West Harerge zones, which are adjacent to Harar and Dire Dawa. There were protests in Jijiga, the capital of the Somali Region, on 13 September 2017. Road travel may be disrupted. If you’re in the area, exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities.

On 11 October 2017, there were protests in the Oromia regional state towns of Ambo, Dodola, Wolisso and Shashemene. There are local reports of casualties including some deaths in Shashemene. This follows widespread demonstrations and violent clashes that took place in the Oromia and Amhara regions in 2016. The situation has calmed considerably, but protests may occur with little warning and could turn violent. You should monitor local media, avoid large crowds, remain vigilant at all times and follow the advice of the local authorities and your tour operator.

There are local media reports of a possible hand grenade attack on 25 April 2017 at the Du Chateau Hotel in Gondar Town. This reportedly resulted in 5 people being injured, including a foreign national.

On 1 April 2017, there was an explosion at the Florida International Hotel in Gondar, reportedly the result of a grenade attack. Three people are reported to have been injured. Two separate explosions at hotels in Gondar and Bahir Dar occurred in January 2017. You should remain vigilant and follow the advice of the local authorities and your tour operator.

Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Ethiopia. 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

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

From 26 September 2017, you won’t be able to buy and use Ethio Tel SIM cards in mobile devices that haven’t been purchased in Ethiopia or registered with the authorities. If you wish to use Ethio Tel you must pass through airport customs to register devices and may be subject to tax. This change doesn’t affect UK or other international SIM cards.

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.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

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.