Safety and security
There is a heightened threat of terrorist incidents in Egypt at this time and security incidents can happen without warning. Although there are additional security measures in place to protect the country's major tourist resorts and sites there is a risk that tourist areas and other places frequented by foreigners may be specifically targeted by terrorists planning future attacks.
A growing association between local extremist groups and Da'esh has heightened the risk of attacks against Westerners and Western interests in Egypt. There have been frequent shootings, bomb attacks and other security incidents across the country, including in Cairo, over the past year. Although the majority of attacks are targeted at the security services they have involved civilian casualties.
On 9 December 2016 there was an explosion on Pyramid Road in Giza, killing at least 6 police officers. On 11 December 2016 an explosion near the Coptic Cathedral in Abbaseya, Cairo, killed 29 people and injured more than 35.
On April 9, 2017, an explosion occurred at the St. George (Mar Girgis) Coptic church in the city of Tanta, in the Nile Delta about 100 km from Cairo. An explosion also occurred at the Saint Mark Cathedral in the city of Alexandria shortly afterwards. Both incidents have caused more than 40 deaths and 100 injuries. Following these attacks, the Egyptian government declared a three month state of emergency to allow for additional security measures to be implemented.
On 26 May, a bus carrying Coptic Christians was attacked in Minya province, central Egypt, killing 29 people and injuring the same number.
Irish citizens should remain vigilant, follow the instructions of local authorities, including any restrictions on movement including in and around religious sites and during religious festivals (this includes the holy month of Ramadan which commenced on 27 May), and monitor local media (including social media) for up to date information.
There have also been a number of incidents and attacks specifically targeting foreign interests and nationals in Egypt.
If you're travelling to Egypt, you should be extremely careful, particularly in commercial establishments and public areas. Monitor local media reports, avoid demonstrations and large crowds, and all travel to the vicinity of police/security and government buildings which have been targeted in recent attacks.
There is a heightened and countrywide threat of kidnapping in Egypt at the present time. In view of this and the overall security situation in the country Irish citizens already in Egypt are advised to take sensible precautions with regard to their personal safety and travel within the country. Long journeys by road should be undertaken only if absolutely necessary and should be planned with the utmost care and precaution. All travel to desert areas (including roads leading to them) should be strictly avoided.
We strongly advise against all travel to Northern Sinai, including the Taba-Suez road, where the security situation is extremely dangerous. The Egyptian army is engaged in ongoing military operations against militant groups in North Sinai and there has been a serious escalation in the number of security incidents and attacks which has resulted in a state of emergency being declared and the imposition of a curfew.
Irish citizens are strongly advised not to seek to travel to Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. The vicinity of the border crossing is particularly dangerous at the moment and the border crossing is closed most of the time.
There are heightened concerns about the security situation in the desert areas close to the Libyan border at this time. Irish citizens are strongly advised to avoid all travel to this area of the country. The movement and presence of all foreign nationals in areas adjacent to the Libyan, Sudanese and Israeli borders is now restricted under the terms of a Presidential decree which mandates the armed forces to take measures to safeguard the security of these areas. Border areas are now classified as either “forbidden” or “restricted” and travel to these areas will only be allowed if a special permit is obtained from the armed forces.
Protests and demonstrations
Egypt has experienced frequent political protests and demonstrations since the 2011 Revolution. Demonstrations and protests continue to be held in Cairo and in other cities, especially on Fridays. These can turn violent, often without warning, and in the past this violence has resulted in large numbers of deaths and injuries. As a result of legislative changes anyone participating in protests or demonstrations can expect to receive a lengthy prison sentence.
We strongly advise you to avoid all protests and demonstrations. You should closely monitor the local media for updates on the situation.
If you’re caught up in a demonstration, leave the area immediately. Don’t attempt to take photographs of demonstrations.
Crime remains relatively low in Egypt but there has been an increase in violent crime including armed robbery and car-jackings in recent years. You should therefore take sensible precautions:
- Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
- Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
- Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
- Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
- Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.
Women should be extra careful as there have been a significant and increasing number of sexual assaults and rapes involving female tourists in Egypt over recent years.
If you’re a victim of a crime while on holiday in Egypt, report it to the tourist police immediately. You won’t be able to pursue the matter once you’ve left Egypt if you fail to do so. You can contact us at the Irish Embassy in Cairo if you need help.
If you’re planning to drive in Egypt, you should be extremely careful as driving conditions in Egypt can be hazardous, particularly at night outside major cities. Accidents are common and drivers often pay little heed to the rules of the road.
If you want to drive:
- Bring your international driving licence and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
- Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.
Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).
Public transport in Egypt has a poor safety record. There have been numerous accidents in recent years involving buses, trains and metro services which have resulted in a considerable number of deaths including foreign tourists. The train and metro network has also been the target of terrorist attacks.
Mon, 29 May 2017 11:31:58 BST