Political Analysis

UK Issues New Warning Travel Advise on Yemen

National Yemen

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Yemen and strongly urge British nationals to leave.

There is a high threat from terrorism throughout Yemen and specific methods of attack are evolving and increasing in sophistication. Terrorists continue to threaten further attacks. Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has previously targeted western interests and there could be a threat to commercial sites, transport infrastructure, diplomatic missions and any place where westerners gather.

There is a very high threat of kidnap from armed tribes, criminals and terrorists. So far in 2014, a number of foreign nationals have been kidnapped, and groups actively continue to target westerners. In February and March 2014, there were at least 3 separate kidnap attempts against well-protected westerners.

In early September fighting in north Yemen between government forces and the Houthis intensified.

On 21 September, after a period of fighting in and around Sana’a which left several hundred casualties and the Houthis in a position to control a number of key government buildings, the Houthis and President Hadi signed an agreement to end this tension. It is not yet clear whether this agreement will work and the situation in Yemen remains volatile with continuing unrest and violent clashes. Houthi forces have moved into governorates to the south, east and west of Sana’a including Hodeida, Dhamar, al Bayda and Marib. There have been significant armed clashes between Houthi forces and other armed groups, including AQAP and tribes. Southern secessionist have increased their protests and activity in Aden. The threat of an escalation of violence and disorder remains.

Following this agreement, Houthi supporters have taken on roles alongside those of Yemeni security forces, including setting up checkpoints, several of which are manned by armed children. Since then, AQAP have targeted Houthi checkpoints, and Houthis in general. On 9 October, AQAP conducted a suicide bombing at a Houthi demonstration at Tahrir Square in Sana’a, which killed at least 42 people and injured many more.

A number of airlines have now resumed services to and from Sana’a following the heavy fighting between Houthis forces and the government in mid September, but threat of violence near the airport remains. On 10 November, clashes between Yemeni Security Forces and Houthis near Sana’a Airport resulted in at least four deaths. Airlines continue to monitor the situation closely and may cancel flights with little or no notice.

Politically motivated demonstrations take place across Yemen. There have been injuries and deaths at some demonstrations. You should avoid all demonstrations.

You should take the opportunity to leave the country. If you’re unable to leave you should minimise movement around Sana’a and follow the other precautions in this travel advice.