Several UK holiday firms have cancelled forthcoming holidays to the East African nation of Ethiopia. The decision by the likes of Saga and Kuoni comes in the wake of a UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) warning that many regions and towns in the country are now unsafe.
The travel companies say people with pre-booked Ethiopian holidays can choose alternate destinations or apply for refunds. The Foreign Office updated its Ethiopian travel advisory last month.
In the revision, the FCO noted that it was advising against all but necessary travel to a huge swath in the centre of the country. This stretches down from the nation’s northern frontier with Sudan to Awasa and roughly corresponds to the states of Amhara and Oromia.
This area covers the country’s capital, Addis Ababa, plus popular tourist sights and destinations such as the Debre Birhan Selassie Church to the north of Lake Lana and the Simien Mountains. The Foreign Office advice also states that Britons should avoid certain areas in the northeast, southeast and west of the country altogether.
The FCO did explain that while it was generally advisable to stay away from most of the regions close to the border with Eritrea, certain locations were reasonably safe. These include the Debre Damo mountain monastery and the town of Yeha and its renowned 2,700-year-old tower.
Following months of civil unrest and violent clashes, the government of Ethiopia declared a state of emergency on 9 October 2016. The FCO says this is expected to last for a minimum of six months. The advice added that the emergency decree empowers government security personnel to carry out random searches, break up oversized gatherings of people and enforce curfews.