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SOMALIA - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development 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.
There is a high threat from terrorism in Somalia. Regional terror groups, including al Qaeda and al-Shabaab, continue to threaten Western interests. Terrorist attacks against government targets involving the use of heavy weapons are frequent, particularly in Mogadishu. Public venues such as hotels and restaurants as well as international institutions have also been targeted and civilian casualties are not uncommon. Further attacks cannot be ruled out. Be vigilant in crowded places and monitor local media.
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.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.
Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
There is a risk of polio in this country. Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up-to-date.
Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
|* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.|
|Country Entry Requirement*|
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in East Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in East Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in East Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis (river blindness), Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus and yellow fever.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
- See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in East Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.
Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws & Culture
Laws & Culture
You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and detention page 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).
Natural Disasters & Climate
Natural 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.
There is no resident Canadian government office in Somalia. You can obtain consular assistance and further consular information from the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi, Kenya
Nairobi - High Commission of Canada
For emergency assistance after hours, call the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi, Kenya, and follow the instructions. You may also call the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613-996-8885.