Stay Safe in Ethiopia
In comparison to Kenya, Mexico, and South Africa, Ethiopia has a low crime rate.
Beyond the city of Harar, avoid traveling to the country’s east. Somali separatist organizations conduct guerrilla assaults on a regular basis. The majority of foreigners that travel there are US military personnel who are involved in teaching the Ethiopian army’s anti-terrorism force. Many others are oil company executives from China, India, or Malaysia who have been targeted in significant guerrilla assaults that have resulted in dozens of deaths. Harar is safe for long visits, while Jijiga is safe for short excursions as well.
In the Afar area, armed rebel organizations are active. An Afari gang assaulted visitors in the Danakil Depression in 2012, murdering five European tourists and kidnapped two more. The Ethiopian government claims that incident was sponsored by Ethiopia’s adversary, Eritrea.
In the year 2008, a hotel in Jijiga and two hotels in Negele Borena were attacked.
In most areas of the nation, organized crime and gang violence are very rare. However, there have been allegations of banditry in the border regions of Sudan (Gambella Region) and Kenya. Stay away from these places.
Despite the fact that Ethiopia has a secular government, the people remain deeply religious. The two major faiths (the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and Islam) have a significant impact on daily life. Because of their clout, the government imposes regulations and legislation that may seem uncomfortable to westerners. Homosexuality, in particular, is outlawed and not accepted.
In comparison to other African nations, robbery in cities and towns is not a significant issue. Travelers, on the other hand, are urged to take care of their possessions. When traveling on Ethiopian roads, travelers should use extreme caution at all times. There have been instances of armed bandits committing highway robberies, including carjackings, outside of metropolitan areas. Some events have resulted in violence. Travelers are advised to restrict road travel outside of large towns or cities to daytime hours and, if feasible, to travel in convoys.
Travellers in cars and bicycles are often stoned by local teenagers when traveling in rural regions.
Traffic accidents are frequent, both for pedestrians and car passengers/drivers; Ethiopia is one of the most hazardous locations to drive in the world. These incidents are often deadly. Pedestrians often cross the street without looking, cars do not utilize mirrors, and traffic lanes are more of a suggestion than a law. To optimize safety, it is strongly advised to hire a driver and travel in the biggest car practically feasible. Always keep doors closed and do not allow beggars to put their hands through windows (distracting a driver while robbing through the passenger side window is a common tactic).
The majority of federal police officers and some private security guards are armed with Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles. This is typical and should not be a reason for concern; it is just less expensive for them to buy and maintain these weapons than more “conventional” police equipment such as handguns and pepper spray. The federal police are usually well-trained and very competent at their duties, and they may be identified by their blue camouflage uniforms. City cops wear a solid blue uniform and are less trustworthy. Traffic cops have a blue outfit with a white helmet and sleeves and are the least trustworthy of the city’s cops.
For many years, there have been anti-government protests in the south, particularly in the Oromia region. The homogenous governance disadvantages the biggest minority, the Oromia people. Protests in the Oromia region were brutally repressed in August 2016, with demonstrators murdered in Gondar and Bahir Dar. During the demonstrations, major bus companies suspended service, and highways were blocked, particularly on weekends. Avoid crowds and keep a look out for unusually high concentrations of security officers.
Stay Healthy in Ethiopia
Drinking tap water is not a good idea. It’s tainted with parasites, and hotels typically advise visitors not to drink it or eat salads and other items washed in tap water. This also applies to ice, unless it is distilled or you are staying at a renowned Western hotel such as the Sheraton, Radisson Blue, or Hilton. Bottled water for drinking is widely available in small, medium, and large sizes — prominent brands include Yes (flat water) and Ambo (sparkling water). Make sure to drink plenty of water, particularly if the weather is hot.
Before traveling to Ethiopia, talk to your doctor about what vaccines you need get against infectious illnesses. Malaria is rare to non-existent in the capital and the mountains, but prevalent in the lake areas and lowlands. In Addis Abeba, doxycycline for malaria prophylaxis is inexpensive.
If you get ill, attend to one of the large private hospitals, such as Korean, Hayat, or St Gabriels.
A significant portion of Ethiopia is located at a high height. People who aren’t used to breathing in thinner air may struggle to move about in such places at first. It is recommended that you give yourself a few days to acclimate to the air.