CURRENCY: YEMENI RIAL (YER)
POPULATION SIZE: 28,25 MILLION
CALLING CODE: +976
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The civil war plaguing Yemen since 2014 follows upon a long-standing history of local, regional and international power struggles. Both previously existing and newly-formed alliances have resulted in the presence of many different competing factions in Yemen. Due to evolving agenda’s and interests, these alliances are highly changeable making the political situation in Yemen very unpredictable and instable. The major fighting parties include: Houthi fighters backed up by Iran, military forces aligned to the ousted president Hadi backed up by the Arab coalition led by Saudi-Arabia and supported by a number of Western countries, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), a local affiliate of Islamic State and the Southern Transitional Council.
Due to the continuation of heavy fighting throughout the country, there is a high risk to fall victim to indiscriminate gunfire or bombing. Additionally, Al-Qaeda and IS frequently carry out terrorist attacks and Westerners often form a target. The risk of getting kidnapped by militia groups, armed tribes, criminals and terrorists is also substantial. Rescue operations by Yemeni authorities regularly have a fatal outcome.
Travelling by road is at high risk. Yemeni roads are generally in poor condition and driving standards are low. Blockades and checkpoints have been set up along the country’s main roads and coming across such a roadblock requires strict compliance with instructions given by local authorities. Over the years, the country has been scattered with anti-personnel landmines. It is strongly recommended to only travel on well-used tracks, preferably with a local guide.
Yemen’s civil war also extends to its territorial waters, posing a significant threat to vessels transiting through the Red Sea, Bab el Mandeb Strait and Gulf of Aden. Due to the possibility of misidentification and miscalculation, all vessels entering Yemeni waters are at risk of being hit by a variety of naval weapons, including sea mines, missiles and suicide drone boats. The waters off the coast of Somalia and the Gulf of Aden are notorious for piracy. Vessels passing through these areas run the risk of being hijacked or held hostage for ransom.
Due to the local and regional unrests, Yemen’s air traffic is extremely changeable. Clashes and airstrikes regularly cause airports across the country to temporarily close or suspend operations. Yemeni Airways and its low-cost subsidiary Felix Airways do operate flights to several domestic and international destinations. Yet, their flight schedules are often subjected to last-minute alterations and cancellations.
Medical facilities in Yemen are extremely poor with only some hospitals in Sana’a (i.e. Yemen German Hospital) and Aden approximating Western standards. There is no adequate ambulance service in the entire country and hospitals often require immediate cash payments. Due to the lack of medical facilities and low quality of care, infectious diseases, transmitted both from human to human or animal to human such as malaria, hepatitis B and schistosomiasis, spread easily. Since medicines are extremely low in supply, it is almost impossible to receive adequate treatment once fallen sick.
In addition, medical facilities have repeatedly been attacked, both deliberately or indiscriminately, through airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition or from the ground by Houthi fighters. Hospitals are thus no neutral or safe site and must be avoided if possible.
Yemen’s water and sanitation systems have continuously been attacked by all fighting parties. The deterioration of these systems poses a danger to public health as it increases the scarcity of fresh water, a potential source of future conflict, and contributes to the spread of diseases by contaminated water such as typhoid, hepatitis A, measles, cholera and diphtheria.
Yemen generally has mild weather conditions. Due to its tropical climate, temperatures in the areas on the Gulf of Aden can reach up to 100 ºF/40 ºC, whereas the average temperature in higher situated cities like Sana’a is 60 ºF/20 ºC. Because of its altitude, the western plateau has a milder climate and can even experience occasional frosts and snow during winter months.
Although cyclones are a rather rare phenomenon in Yemen, on average once per year, its occurrence can cause severe weather conditions such as heavy rainfall, subsequently leading to flooding and mudslides.
Yemen is a rather patriarchal society and women are considered of a lower status. Sexual intercourse between individuals of the same sex is prohibited. Publicly expressing one’s homosexuality is likely to result in verbal and physical harassment. Officially being charged with homosexuality can lead to the death penalty.
Yemen is an Islamic country which is reflected in its traditions, customs and laws. Consumption of alcohol, drugs, with the exception of qat, and pig meat is forbidden. During the holy month of Ramadan, eating, drinking or smoking in public during daytime must be avoided altogether. Both men and women are required to dress modestly and wear appropriate body-covering clothing. Foreign women are, however, exempted from wearing a black abaya and headscarf. Prostitution and extra-marital relations are forbidden and can be severely penalized. The lifestyle of inhabitants of inland Yemen is based on a strict interpretation of the Quran. Visitors are strongly advised to adjust their behavior and clothing accordingly.
» Get all necessary vaccinations
» Purchase a health insurance which covers travel in Yemen and medical evacuation
» Take a first aid kit
» Take all necessary preventive medication
» Keep a copy of important documents, such as passport, bank cards, health insurance card and medical overview etc., online
» Prevent predictable behavior, alternate travel routes and times on a daily basis
» Always keep a high level of situational awareness
» Always comply to instructions given by local authorities
» Stay on well-used paths and roads
» Avoid places known to be often visited by Westerners and public buildings such as hospitals, government buildings, airports, hotels and malls
» Avoid politically motivated gatherings
» Monitor local news outlets to stay up-to-date about political developments
» Only drink bottled or boiled water, only eat well-cooked food, peel your own vegetables and fruit, and avoid unpasteurized dairy products
» Ensure to always have an adequate stock of water, food, fuel, cash and medicines
» Be aware and respect local customs and traditions, dress modestly and behave discreetly
» Avoid the use of non-sterile medical equipment
» Avoid all contact with sick people and animals
» Wash your hands regularly with soap
» Do no swim in fresh water
» Avoid unprotected sexual intercourse
» Monitor local weather reports closely and take necessary preparations on time
» Consult a doctor immediately if you become ill after returning from Yemen
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