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Britain warns its citizens not to travel to Somali-Ethiopia region

Britain has advised against all but essential travel to all other areas of the Ethiopian Somali Regional State, with the exception of the main road to Djibouti, and passengers on the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway

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:

all other areas of the Ethiopian Somali Regional State, with the exception of the main road to Djibouti, and passengers on the Addis Ababa-Djibouti Railway

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

On 4 August 2018, there were incidences of severe civil unrest, protests and violence in a number of areas in the Ethiopian Somali Regional State, including the cities of Jijiga and Dhegahbur. If you’re in the area or need to make essential travel, you should exercise caution, remain vigilant and take local advice. You should avoid all demonstrations and protests.

There have been reports of civil unrest and gunfire in the town of Assosa, in Benishangul Gumuz regional state since 25 June. You should check with local security before travelling to this area.

On Saturday 23 June, a large rally in Addis Ababa in support of Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed was disrupted by a grenade attack, resulting in around 80 injured, some seriously. Minor incidents were reported as crowds dispersed, but the streets are now mostly calm. We encourage visitors to continue to follow our advice below on public gatherings.

On 5 June 2018, Ethiopia lifted the State of Emergency that had been in place since 16 February. However, protests and demonstrations can occur at short notice in Addis Ababa and other cities. In the past, some of these have become violent. You should avoid any protests or demonstrations, remain aware of your surroundings and follow the advice of local authorities.

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 13 February 2018, there were reports of road closures and large gatherings in towns in the Oromia region, including some close to the borders of Addis Ababa, as well as around Harar and Dire Dawa. If you’re in these areas you should exercise caution, keep away from crowds and limit road journeys as much as possible until the situation has normalised. 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, turn around and don’t attempt to pass it.

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. On 17 December 2017, there were reports of renewed violence in recent weeks between Somalis and Oromos in east and west Harerge Zones, resulting in a number of deaths. Road travel may be disrupted. If you’re in the area, exercise caution and follow the advice of the local authorities. See Safety & security section

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.

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

As of September 2017, you can no longer 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. This 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.


Abdi Aziz Hassan Ibrahim is , a somali veteran journalist based in the Somali capital, Mogadishu. Twitter @mareegonline