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Monday, 21 February 2011

Travel Advice - Libya


•We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Libya because of the unsettled security situation and the threat of terrorist attack. Australians in Libya are advised to leave the country by commercial means if it is safe to do so.
•Protests have taken place in a number of Libyan cities and towns in February 2011. There are reports of violent clashes between Libyan security forces and demonstrators in several cities, particularly in the east of the country, including Benghazi and al-Bayda. Large numbers of casualties have been reported. Pro-government demonstrations have also taken place in Tripoli.
•Australians are urged to avoid political gatherings and demonstrations as they have the potential to turn violent. You should follow the instructions of local authorities. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
•Recent credible information suggests that terrorists may be planning to kidnap foreigners in Libya. Such kidnappings are more likely in sparsely populated border areas.
•We advise you not to travel to the border areas with Niger, Chad, and Sudan because of the presence of armed tribal groups, the threat of kidnapping by terrorists and increased military activity in the area due to problems with illegal immigration.
◦Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
◦organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
◦register your travel and contact details , so we can contact you in an emergency
◦subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.

Civil Unrest/Political Tension
We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to all areas of Libya because of the unsettled security situation and the threat of terrorist attack. Australians in Libya are advised to leave the country by commercial means if it is safe to do so.

Protests have taken place in a number of Libyan cities and towns in February 2011. There are reports of violent clashes between Libyan security forces and demonstrators in several cities, particularly in the east of the country, including Benghazi and al-Bayda. Large numbers of casualties have been reported. Pro-government demonstrations have also taken place in Tripoli.

There are reports some communications networks, including the internet, have been disrupted.

You should avoid political gatherings and demonstrations as they have the potential to turn violent. You should follow the instructions of local authorities. You should exercise particular care around the period of midday prayers on Friday's. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Terrorism
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Libya because of the unsettled security situation and the threat of terrorist attack. Attacks could occur at any time and anywhere in Libya. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

There is a risk of terrorist attack against Western interests in Libya. In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. Possible targets include commercial and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners such as hotels, office buildings, restaurants, schools, places of worship, outdoor recreation events, public transport, embassies, markets and shopping areas, historic sites and tourist areas. Significant concentrations of foreign workers in remote locations may also be at risk.

Recent credible information suggests that terrorists may be planning to kidnap foreigners in Libya. Such kidnappings are more likely in sparsely populated border areas. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnap Threat in Africa travel bulletin.

Borders with Niger, Chad and Sudan: We advise you not to travel to the border areas with Niger, Chad, and Sudan, or undertake cross-border travel between Libya and Niger, Chad, or Sudan, because of banditry, the presence of armed tribal groups and the risk of kidnapping by terrorists. There is also an increased threat of military activity in these areas due to problems with illegal immigration.

Crime
Most crime in Libya is opportunistic such as bag snatching, mugging and pick pocketing. Travellers to remote areas, including beaches, have been robbed and assaulted when travelling alone. Pick pockets are active in market areas.

Car theft and stealing from vehicles are increasing in frequency. You should keep valuables out of sight and your windows up and doors locked.

Local Travel
Although road conditions are reasonable throughout Libya, driving standards are poor and the volume of traffic is heavy. Wind-blown sand can reduce visibility quickly. For further advice, see our bulletin on Overseas Road Safety.

Visitors are required to carry identification documents at all times.

Travellers may require permits for travel to remote areas of the country. For further information, contact your tour operator or the General Board of Tourism and Traditional Industries. Australians travelling in Libya should obey the direction of local authorities, especially on the safety of travel in isolated desert regions.

Airline Safety
Please refer to our travel bulletin for information about Aviation Safety and Security.

Wildlife
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.

Money and Valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and wether your ATM card will work overseas.

Libya is a cash society and credit card use is extremely limited. Travellers' cheques are not accepted and the number of ATMs is extremely limited. You should use official money exchange counters or banks as penalties can be imposed for transactions with unauthorised currency dealers.

Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Replacing a passport incurs an additional fee. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports. For further information, see Lost or stolen passport.

For Parents
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling Parents brochure.

If you are planning on placing your children in schools or childcare facilities overseas we encourage you to research the standards of security, care and staff training within those establishments. You should exercise the same precautions you would take before placing children into schools or childcare facilities in Australia.

Ideas on how to select childcare providers are available from the smartraveller Children's Issues page, Child Wise and the National Childcare Accreditation Council.

Local Laws
When you are in Libya, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Other serious crimes, such as murder, may attract the death penalty.

Sexual relations outside of marriage are illegal in Libya and punishments include imprisonment.

Homosexual acts are illegal in Libya and punishments include a minimum three years imprisonment.

There are severe penalties for importing and using alcohol in Libya.

Political or religious offences, such as criticising the Libyan leader, Islam or the prevailing Jamahiriya state system, can lead to severe penalties, including life imprisonment.

Photography around military zones, assets and personnel and police assets and police personnel is illegal and may result in arrest and detention.

Foreigners involved in business disputes may have their passports confiscated and/or may not be permitted to depart Libya until the dispute has been settled.

Child custody decisions are based on Islamic law.

The penalty for illegally exporting antiquities is three years imprisonment plus compensation for any damage caused.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 17 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in sexual activity with children under 16 while outside of Australia.

Local Customs
There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Libya. You should take care not to offend.

During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.

Information for Dual Nationals
Our Travel Information for Dual Nationals brochure provides further information.

Entry and Exit Requirements
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Libya for the most up to date information. Tourist visas are generally not available to individuals unless you are part of an organised tour group travelling with a Libyan tourist company.

Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your expected departure from Libya. Your passport details must be translated into Arabic by an accredited translator and written into the passport, as prescribed by the Libyan Government. For details, please consult the Australian Passports Office web-site,
Arabic Translation.

Travellers whose passport contains evidence of entry to Israel or to other-country border crossings with Israel will be refused entry.

You should register your passports with the police station closest to your accommodation. Failure to do so may result in fines and problems during your stay or on departure.

Under Libyan law, children born to Libyan fathers need their father's permission to depart Libya.

A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Libya if you are arriving from a country endemic for yellow fever. The World Health Organisation provides a list of countries endemic for yellow fever.

Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate before being allowed to board flights out of Libya. If in doubt, check with your airline.

Religious material and antiquities are subject to strict customs regulations.

All currency must be declared on arrival and a currency declaration form must be completed on departure.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Health Issues
On 10 August 2010, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced it had moved to a post-pandemic period in response to pandemic (H1N1) 2009. The virus is expected to remain as a seasonal influenza virus and local outbreaks may occur. For more information see the WHO website.

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' brochure also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.

Medical facilities in Libya are limited and some medicines are in short supply. Medical facilities in remote areas can be very limited or non-existent. Travellers may wish to consider carrying limited medical supplies for personal use. Foreigners will be required to pay an up-front deposit for medical services. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could be considerable (over $A50, 000).

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, plague and measles) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before travelling. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to parasitic diseases such as schistosomiasis (bilharzia). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has confirmed cases of avian influenza in birds in a number of countries throughout the world. For a list of these countries, visit the OIE website. For information on our advice to Australians on how to reduce the risk of infection and on Australian Government precautions see our travel bulletin on avian influenza.

Where to Get Help
The Australian Consulate-General in Libya provides full consular assistance. Contact details are:

Australian Consulate-General
Office 203, Level 20
Alfateh Tower 1
Tripoli, Libya
Telephone (218 0) 21 335 1468/69
Facsimile (218 0) 21 335 1368

The working week is from Sunday to Thursday, in accordance with local practice.

If you are travelling to Libya, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the Consulate-General, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

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