Ethiopia Travel Warning

At the beginning of January 2017, a hand grenade exploded in front of the Grand Hotel in Bahir Dar and a week later in the entrance area of the Etasal Hotel in Gondar. In the latter incident, one person died and others were injured.

According to youremailverifier, the Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency on October 8, 2016. This was preceded by mass demonstrations and sometimes violent protests against the Ethiopian government, mostly in the Oromia and Amhara regions. It is currently not advisable to go on holiday to the Oromia and Amhara regions away from the main routes. Traveling on the main routes (Bahir Dar, Gondar, Lalibela, Dire Dawa, Arba Minch) is currently possible without any problems.

Details of the state of emergency were announced on Ethiopian TV on October 15, 2016. In particular, all protest activities were prohibited.

Travelers are advised to register online in the German list of the embassy in Addis Ababa (ELEFAND) so that the embassy – if necessary – can contact you quickly in crises and other exceptional situations: External link, opens in a new windowhttp: //elefand.diplo. de

The sending of electronic messages (SMS), messages via social networks and e-mails may be temporarily restricted. In large parts of the country, the mobile Internet has been switched off for weeks. It is strongly recommended that you avoid any communication with critical and political statements.

Travelers should also always have several copies of their passport with them. Every landlord and car rental company must provide the authorities with data on their tenants and customers.

The protests are also expressed in roadblocks. In some cases, vehicles outside of Addis Ababa were pelted with stones, including deaths and injuries. Various companies, including foreign ones, were looted or set on fire, including in individual cases tourist accommodations (lodges). The internet and mobile network are interrupted regularly, sometimes for days.

Travelers are advised to stay away from the locations of the clashes, avoid crowds and, if necessary, go to protected areas. If a demonstration has been announced, the route or the whereabouts should be adjusted accordingly.

Country-specific safety information

Domestic situation

The imposition of the state of emergency on October 8th, 2016 has been preceded by protests since autumn 2015, which sparked, among other things, the “Urban Development Plan Addis Ababa”. Many Oromos fear further land grabbing in the event of insufficient compensation Aggravated again in 2016 and extended to the Amharen region. The cities of Bahir Dar and Gondar, which are popular with tourists, were also affected in July. Since then there have been repeated violent clashes between security forces and protesters, leaving numerous dead and injured.

Due to the state of emergency, the provincial administrations are deprived of their powers to maintain public safety and order and are centralized to the Ethiopian federal government. This enables them to react more quickly to future unrest. Details of the implementation of the state of emergency are not yet known.

Road blockades by demonstrators, especially in the immediate vicinity of the capital Addis Ababa, and the cordoning off of areas by the security forces, often restrict road traffic in the region. Countermeasures by the police during protest actions, such as evictions and mass arrests, can also endanger uninvolved persons. Anyone who tries to disregard the barriers must expect to be pelted with stones. Such incidents have already resulted in deaths and injuries.

There are frequent incidents in the outskirts of the country. In the Somali region (Ogaden) in the east, the Ethiopian military carries out armed operations against members of the ONLF (see also Traveling overland).

In the border area with Somalia, due to possible military actions against fighters of the Islamist terrorist organization al-Shabaab, larger troop movements can also be expected across borders.

In the Gambella region there was a tribal-politically motivated attack on villages near the city of Gambella from South Sudan in mid-April 2016, in which a large number of Ethiopians were killed and numerous children were kidnapped. Some of the children were returned in mid-May. Less than a week after the attack, employees of an aid organization were attacked and killed by refugees after a vehicle from this organization caused the deaths of two refugee girls in a traffic accident. In the meantime, the situation has calmed down due to the high presence of government troops and security forces. However, it is not advisable to travel to the region that is not necessary. The border area with South Sudan should be avoided.

When traveling in the South Omo Zone, especially away from the tourist routes, it is strongly recommended to inform yourself about the current security situation with the local authorities immediately before starting your journey. Due to an armed attack on a European tour group on November 7th, 2016, it is recommended that trips in the area north of the Omo National Park only be undertaken with professional tour operators accompanied by Ethiopian security forces. Individual travel in the region is not recommended.


As in other East African countries, activities by terrorist groups in Ethiopia cannot be ruled out. In view of Ethiopia’s military engagement in Somalia, this applies above all to the terrorist organization al-Shabaab there, which regularly threatens countries engaged in Somalia. The location of Addis Ababa, as the seat of the African Union (AU), also increases the attractiveness for possible terrorist attacks. The Ethiopian government warns against activities of al-Shabaab in Ethiopia.

In recent years there have been isolated (attempted) bomb attacks in Addis Ababa. It cannot be ruled out that Ethiopia will continue to be the target of attacks in the future.

Greater caution is therefore advised, especially around western facilities and tourist destinations. This also applies to larger hotels. Attention should be paid to suspicious persons and abandoned items of luggage such as bags, parcels or bundles of textiles. Caution is also advised when participating in major events. Your own behavior should be as inconspicuous as possible. Larger gatherings of people should be avoided.

Land travel / kidnapping / crime / road traffic

Since demonstrations and protests are often to be expected in the Oromo and Amhara regions as well as in the Amhara region, travelers should find out about the security situation on a daily basis.

For the use of the road connections Addis Ababa – Djibouti, Addis Ababa – Shashemene – Moyale, Addis Abeba – Harar, Addis Abebe – Asosa, Addis Ababa – Gambella, Addis Ababa – Debreguracha, Gondar – Metema, Gondar – Humera and Addis Ababa – Shashemene – Dolo separate regulations apply. These include a ban on carrying firearms, knives and objects for starting a fire.

In Addis Ababa there are more frequent pickpockets and occasionally robberies on passers-by. Pay extra attention, especially after dark.

The country’s infrastructure is weak, and there are only a limited number of well-developed roads for overland travel. In principle, long-distance journeys should not be made in the late afternoon, at dusk or in the dark for reasons of road safety.

Before traveling inland, precise inquiries about the security situation should be obtained in individual cases. Particularly in the border regions and away from regularly used roads, an increased risk from attacks and, furthermore, from land mines can be assumed. In addition, the possibilities to get help in traffic accidents are extremely limited. It is therefore generally advisable to use local guides and, if necessary, to coordinate the trip with the local authorities.

Border area with Eritrea

Attacks by bandits and local underground organizations as well as kidnappings cannot be ruled out when driving into the direct border area with Eritrea and the Danakil Depression in North Afar. In January 2012, an armed attack on a tour group took place on the edge of the Ertale volcano in the Danakil desert, in which two German nationals were killed and other German and other EU citizens were injured (kidnappings lasting several weeks).

Against this background, the Federal Foreign Office advises against traveling independently to the Danakil Desert and the northern Afar region without being accompanied by Ethiopian security forces.

Newly laid land mines must also be expected there. In the southeast of the border region with Eritrea, the area on the Bure-Assab road is affected. It is not advisable to take the Eli Dar road towards Assab. If journeys are absolutely necessary, the local authorities should be informed and appropriate.

Ethiopia Travel Warning