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SOMALIA - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to Somalia. If you are currently in Somalia despite this advisory, 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.
Safety and security
Safety and security
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 in 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 has been ongoing.
The current situation represents a very serious threat to travellers. Violent demonstrations, suicide bombings, attacks and military activity occur regularly. 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 very high 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 immunity.
If you choose to travel to Somalia despite this advisory, you may have difficulty in departing the country.
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. Nonetheless, violent attacks on foreign targets have occurred in these regions. The United Kingdom continues to advise, in its travel advice for Somalia, that there is a specific threat to Westerners in Somaliland.
Inter-clan conflicts often erupt 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.
There is a threat of terrorism. Attacks against government targets involving the use of heavy weapons are frequent, particularly in Mogadishu. Civilian casualties are not uncommon. Further attacks are likely. Targets could include government buildings, places of worship, schools, airports and other transportation hubs, as well as public areas such as restaurants, coffee shops, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners. High-profile events could also be targeted. Be aware of your surroundings at all times in public places.
Foreigners are at very high risk of being kidnapped throughout Somalia, including in Somaliland. Several Westerners, including humanitarian workers, have been kidnapped in recent years.
There are high levels of crime conducted by armed militias throughout the country. Armed robberies, carjackings and murders occur regularly.
Protests, civil unrest and violent incidents occur in Mogadishu, often 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 and areas where demonstrations may 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.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport is often closed with little or no warning due to fighting.
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, where services are unreliable.
Acts of piracy against ships 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 every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Somalian authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. 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 for up-to-date information.
Canadians must present a valid passport to visit Somalia. Before you leave, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country’s entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
A visa is required to visit those areas under the authority of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG). The visa can be obtained in advance from the Embassy of Somali Republic in Kenya. Visas are also required for Somaliland and Puntland, and it is recommended that these also 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.
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination 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 through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. 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, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture 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 by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
There is a risk of polio in this country.
- Be sure that your vaccination against polio is up to date. Polio is part of the routine vaccine schedule for children in Canada.
- One booster dose of the polio vaccine is recommended as an adult.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected 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).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from 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.
- There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of vaccination is required if you are coming from or have transited through an airport of a country where yellow fever occurs.
- Vaccination is recommended depending on your itinerary.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* 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.
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!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). 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 freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). 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 standards of hygiene and 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.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
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.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against 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 the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- 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).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
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.
Medical services and facilities
There are virtually no health facilities or medicines available in Somalia. You must be completely self-sufficient.
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 and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), refrain from drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
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 marriage, it is a form of violence most commonly perpetrated against women and girls. People have been unable to return to Canada because their passports and money have been withheld by family members. For more information about forced marriage, consult our Marriage Overseas FAQ and Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide.
Dual citizenship is legally recognized in Somalia. However, Canadian officials may be limited in their ability to provide you with consular services if local authorities consider you a Somalian citizen. You should always travel using your valid Canadian passport and present yourself as Canadian to foreign authorities at all times to minimize this risk. You may also need to carry and present a Somalian passport for legal reasons, for example to enter and exit the country (see Entry/exit requirements to determine passport requirements). Citizenship is determined solely by national laws, and the decision to recognize dual citizenship rests completely with the country in which you are located when seeking consular assistance. See Travelling as a dual citizen for more information.
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 and climate
Natural disasters & climate
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 centralized number to reach emergency services. Research and carry contact information for local police and medical facilities.
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 consular assistance, call the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi, Kenya, and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are 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 to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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