There have been recent deadly attacks in Turkey, Ivory Coast and Belgium. In a world where everyone and everything is connected, the spotlight has fallen on travel and perhaps more specifically on traveller safety. Here is a round-up of what you should know, focusing on the destinations in question.
Large bomb attacks in Ankara on 17 February and 13 March, saw more than 50 people were killed. Suicide bomb attacks against tourists in Istanbul on 12 January and 19 March, suicide bomb attacks against tourists in Istanbul left 14 tourists dead.
The British government’s Foreign Travel Advice service has stated that most attacks are likely to continue to target the Turkish state. Nevertheless, it’s increasingly likely that some attacks will also target western interests and tourism, as they did in Istanbul on 12 January and 19 March. Terrorist groups, including Daesh and the Kurdistan Freedom Falcons (TAK), have publicly threatened to attack tourist sites in Turkey. To date most attacks in Turkey have taken place in the south and east of the country and in Ankara and Istanbul.
The Turkish authorities have said that security has been tightened in response to the attack on tourists on 12 January. Further attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect places visited by foreigners. Border crossings into Syria and nearby locations have also been targeted. Travellers are advised to be vigilant, monitor media reports and keep up to date with travel advisories.
A terrorist attack took place at Grand Bassam, near Abidjan on 13 March 2016 in which 18 people were killed, including a number of foreigners.
Further attacks on beach resorts, hotels, cafés and restaurants visited by foreigners are possible and could occur without warning. Travellers are advised to be especially vigilant in these places. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all but essential travel to the western regions of Dix-Huit Montagnes, Haut-Sassandra, Moyen-Cavally and Bas-Sassandra. Travellers are advised to avoid large public gatherings and political rallies and to take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before they travel.
Following explosions at Brussels Airport and Maalbeek metro station in Brussels on 22 March, police operations are ongoing and transport and the mobile network may be subject to disruption. You are advised to remain vigilant and follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities.
Brussels Airport cancelled all passenger flights into and out of Brussels airport on 23 and 24 March. Although Eurostar is now running a normal service to Brussels travellers are advised to factoring in extra time for their journey due to increased security measures in place at UK ports and borders. Public transport in Brussels is reported to operate normally.
The Belgian threat level is Level 4 – a serious and imminent threat. Travellers should remain alert and vigilant, stay away from crowded places, and follow the instructions of the Belgian authorities. Travellers can find more information on the Belgian Crisis Centre website and Twitter feed.
The Belgian Crisis Centre has given the Belgian telephone number +32 2753 7300 for concerned family/friends or 1771 (+32 7815 1771 from outside Belgium) for general enquiries.
Public events and busy public areas across Belgium are likely to see additional security. Some public events may be cancelled and some tourist attractions closed. Travellers are advised to contact event organisers for information on whether specific events are going ahead.
There is a high threat of terrorism. Due to ongoing threats to France by Islamist terrorist groups, and recent French military intervention against Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL), the French government has warned the public to be especially vigilant and has reinforced its security measures.
On Friday 13 November 2015, a number of terrorist incidents took place in Paris resulting in widespread casualties.
Following the November 13 incidents, a national state of emergency remains in place in France. Travellers should be vigilant in public places and follow the advice of the local authorities. Travellers should review the French government’s advice about what to do if a terrorist attack occurs.
South African travellers are also strongly encouraged to on the Registration of South Africans Abroad (ROSA) website so that the Department of International Relations and Cooperation are aware of their whereabouts in case of emergency.