SOMALIA - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada advises against all travel to Somalia. If you are currently in Somalia despite this warning, you should leave immediately.
The security situation in Somalia is extremely volatile and the threat of domestic terrorism is high, particularly in South-Central Somalia and in the capital Mogadishu.
The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
If you are currently in Somalia despite this advisory, you should leave immediately. There is no resident Canadian government office in Somalia, and the Government of Canada cannot provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens in distress in Somalia. If you are confronted with an emergency in Somalia, you will have to make your way to the nearest Canadian embassy or consulate or rely on your own resources.
The security situation in Somalia is dangerous and unpredictable, particularly in south-central Somalia and the capital, Mogadishu. Fighting over the control of these areas between the government (supported by international troops) and the terrorist group Al Shabaab and others continues, despite the election of a new parliament and president in August/September 2012. Terrorist attacks against government targets, most frequently by way of mortars, grenades, improvised explosive devices and suicide bombs are frequent, particularly in Mogadishu, and civilian casualties are not uncommon. Sources indicate that terrorists are in the final planning stages of an attack on Mogadishu.
The ongoing situation represents a very serious threat to travellers. Violent demonstrations, attacks and armed military activity can occur at any time. You should also be aware that anti-Western sentiment may at times be strong. Foreign travellers, including journalists, human rights activists and humanitarian workers, are at risk of kidnapping, murder and arrest without notice or apparent cause.
The rule of law is virtually non-existent and there is no guarantee of a fair trial or that local courts will respect diplomatic or United Nations immunities.
Canadians who choose to travel despite the advisory may have difficulty in departing the country. Acts of piracy against shipping off the Somali coast continue to occur. The land border between Kenya and Somalia remains closed and air traffic between the two countries is subject to special procedures by the Kenyan government.
Somaliland and Puntland
Somaliland (a self-declared republic seeking independence) and Puntland (an administrative region in the northeast) have remained more stable than the south-central part of the country. However, violent attacks on foreign targets have occurred there as well. In late January 2013, some countries, including the United Kingdom, updated their travel advice to note that there is a specific threat to Westerners in Somaliland. Inter clan conflict often erupts into fighting in the Sanaag and Sool regions of Somaliland along the border with Puntland. Tensions and violence in the south of the country could spread to Somaliland and Puntland at any time.
Protests, civil unrest and violent incidents occur in Mogadishu, in response to the rising costs of food and living. Outbreaks of violence can arise unpredictably, and parties involved are often armed. These violent incidents tend to cause civilian casualties. Avoid all public gatherings where violence and demonstrations may occur.
Land and air travel
Mogadishu International Airport is often closed with little or no warning due to fighting. Should you choose to travel despite the advisory, you may encounter difficulties in departing the country. Consult our Transportation FAQ in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
The land border between Kenya and Somalia remains closed and air traffic between the two countries is subject to special procedures by the Kenyan government.
General safety information
Tourist facilities are not available. Electricity and water provisions are not assured. International telephone services and Internet access are limited to larger cities.
Acts of piracy against shipping off the Somali coast have increased. Mariners should take appropriate precautions. For additional information, consult the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau.
It is the sole prerogative of each country or region to determine who is allowed to enter. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry requirements. The following information on entry and exit requirements has been obtained from the Iraqi authorities. However, these requirements are subject to change at any time. It is your responsibility to check with the Permanent Mission of the Somali Republic to the United Nations or the Embassy of the Somali Republic in Kenya.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Permanent Mission of the Somali Republic to the United Nations
425 East 61st Street, Suite 702
New York, New York, United States 10021
Tel.: (212) 688-9410/5046
Fax: (212) 759-0651
Embassy of the Somali Republic in Kenya
Jabavu Road, Hurlingham
Tel.: (254) (20) 273-6618
Fax: (254) (20) 273-6619
Canadians must present a passport to visit Somalia.
A visa is required to visit those areas under the authority of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The visa should be obtained in advance from the Embassy of the Somali Republic in Kenya. Visas are also required for Somaliland and Puntland, and it is recommended that these be obtained in advance. Inquiries regarding visas for Somaliland and Puntland should be directed to the person/organization you will be visiting, as there is no office in Kenya to issue these visas.
Although same-sex marriages are legal in Canada, many countries or regions do not recognize them. Attempting to enter as a same-sex married couple may result in refusal by local officials. For more information, contact the foreign government office accredited to Canada.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. Please consult our Children page for more information.
Some countries require proof of yellow fever vaccination before allowing entry. Consult the World Health Organization’s country list to obtain information on this country’s requirements.
The Agency strongly recommends that you consult with a travel medicine clinic or health care provider preferably six weeks before departure.
The Agency publishes travel health advice for Somalia.
There are virtually no health facilities or medicines available in Somalia. You must be completely self-sufficient.
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention FAQ for more information.
Homosexual activity is illegal.
There are reports of women holding Canadian citizenship being forced into marriage without their prior knowledge or consent. Parents, relatives and the community may use relentless pressure and emotional blackmail, threatening behaviour, abduction, imprisonment and physical violence to coerce young people to enter into marriage. While both men and women experience forced marriages, it is a form of violence most commonly perpetrated against women. People have been unable to return to Canada, and their passports and money have been withheld by family members. For more information about forced marriages, consult our Marriage Overseas FAQ and our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide.
The currency is the Somali shilling (SOS), except in Somaliland, which uses the Somaliland shilling. U.S. dollars are widely accepted. Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are not accepted in Somalia, and there are no automated banking machines (ABMs).
Disasters & Climate
Due to below-average rainfall over the last four years, many regions of eastern Africa are currently afflicted by severe drought, including Somalia. You should expect difficulties travelling overland. Local services and the availability of water and basic food may be affected.
The climate in Somalia is very hot and dry. However, a monsoon season extends from May to October in the southwest and from December to February in the northeast. There are also short rainy seasons in other parts of the country. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
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