Foreign travel advice

Ethiopia

Terrorism

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 have been several minor attacks at hotels in tourist areas but it’s unclear whether these have been related to terrorism or domestic unrest:

  • on 1 April 2017, there was an explosion at the Florida International Hotel in Gondar, reportedly the result of a grenade attack. This follows two separate explosions at hotels in Gondar and Bahir Dar in January 2017.
  • there was an explosion at the Anwar Mosque in the Merkato area of central Addis Ababa on 11 December 2015.

The terrorist group Al-Shabaab, although based in Somalia, poses a threat across the East Africa region. The group continues to link attacks in the region to Ethiopia’s military presence in Somalia as part of an African Union peacekeeping mission, and continues to threaten all countries who have military forces in Somalia.

In the past 4 years, Al Shabaab has claimed responsibility for attacks in Uganda, Djibouti and Kenya. The ultimate aim of Al-Shabaab is to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the wider region, including parts of Ethiopia.

The authorities of Ethiopia have successfully disrupted a number of planned attacks and made a number of arrests. In November 2016 eight Somali nationals were found guilty of trying to carry out terror attacks in public areas in Addis Ababa and jailed for nine years.

A number of indigenous Ethiopian and ethnic Somali groups which operate in Ethiopia are actively engaged in a militant campaign against the Ethiopian government, with most of their activity centered on the Ogaden region.

There’s a threat of kidnapping in Ethiopia’s Somali region, particularly in the eastern areas to which the FCO advise against all travel. You should be vigilant, particularly in towns and cities in the Somali region of Ethiopia, even in areas where the FCO do not advise against all travel. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking. The Terrorism Act (2000) also makes payments to terrorists illegal.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals, from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

Find out more about the global threat from terrorism, how to minimise your risk and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack.