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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
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Eritrea Country Security Report

Travel Advisory

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Eritrea at Level 4, indicating that travelers should not travel to Eritrea due to COVID-19, travel restrictions, limited consular assistance, and landmines. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.

 

The Institute for Economics & Peace Global Peace Index 2021 ranks Eritrea 136 out of 163 worldwide, rating the country as being at a Low state of peace.

Crime Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Asmara as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

The U.S. Department of State has not included a Crime “C” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Eritrea. Review the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.

Crime: General Threat

Obtaining official crime statistics for Eritrea is difficult. Most of the U.S. Embassy's reports regarding specific crimes originate from other diplomatic missions, international organizations, and foreign business expatriates with whom U.S. diplomats share a cordial relationship.  

Walking the streets of Asmara during the daytime hours is generally safe. Although crime is present, particularly at certain hours and in certain locations, Asmara is generally safer than many capital cities in the region. There are dozens of neighborhoods and shopping areas throughout Asmara that attract residents and visitors alike and, therefore, petty criminals. Pickpockets and purse/bag snatchers are a cause of concern. Although previously rare, women are increasingly involved in such thefts, which usually occur in crowded areas such as bus stops, stadiums, movie theatres, marketplaces, and even places of worship. The Embassy has received reports of Eritreans and Westerners assaulted and robbed while walking late at night.  

Crime is generally higher in the early morning hours near area bus stations, and in areas with high bar/club concentrations (i.e., the Expo Center and downtown area). Some bars stay open overnight until 0500. Disturbances and fights are not uncommon on weekends; youth gangs are indiscriminate in who they target. Women walking alone during these hours are particularly vulnerable. Crime risks may be higher during electricity blackouts that leave large areas in darkness. Over the past few years, Westerners reported five instances of assault. In the most severe case, a Western female was returning to her home at night when two men violently attacked her, kicking and punching her repeatedly, demanding she hand over her phone and money. 

Crime also tends to be higher during the summer, when Eritreans from the diaspora visit, and during the Christmas and New Year holiday season. In June, when schools are about to close for the summer, instances of group fighting, bar brawls, and hooliganism tend to rise. Crime tends to be lower from April to June. Crime peaks again during Eritrea’s National Festival inAugust. Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should Leave Behind.

While homicides do occur, they often involve perpetrators known to the victim (e.g., land disputes, crimes of passion, domestic issues). In October 2019, an Eritrean man killed his wife and mother-in-law during a domestic violence incident using an AK-47 issued to him by the government as a member of the People’s Militia. Sexual assaults usually involve individuals known to the victim or situations where the use of drugs or alcohol plays a factor. However, the occasional homicide has occurred as the result of an assault or robbery against strangers; these incidents are generally opportunistic and typically occur in the early morning hours. The Embassy has no specific knowledge of homicide or sexual assault committed against persons in the expatriate or diplomatic community. 

Financial scams are rare. Eritrea has no ATMs and is a cash-only economy. You cannot use credit or debit cards in Eritrea for any purpose, as there are no credit card processing services operating in the country.   

Vehicle break-ins are common, but vehicle theft occurs rarely. Incidents of stolen vehicles are usually isolated to joyriding. In November 2019, car thieves stole an Embassy employee’s car parked overnight near the Embassy, but authorities recovered it abandoned the next day near an area hospital. The thieves allegedly used the car to transport stolen diesel fuel. The Embassy recommends parking in well-lighted areas, and whenever possible to park in secure parking areas.    

Residential crime ebbs and flows. Over the past few years, there have been reported break-ins and burglaries of expatriate residences. In one case, a suspect broke into a home, held a female expatriate at knifepoint, and stole personal belongings. Common items of interest reported taken from residences include propane gas cylinders, money, jewelry, and electronics. Review OSAC’s report, Hotels: The Inns and Outs.

The Eritrean government restricts the travel of foreigners outside of Asmara via a 2006 decree. While it has granted requests for travel to Keren, Mendefera, and Massawa, access is not guaranteed. Travel permits are very specific, and do not allow for side trips/deviations. Would-be travelers must request and receive specific approval to access religious and other significant sites.  

The Filfil Road from Asmara to Massawa has a large amount of mountain debris, and has washed away in parts. You may see wild baboons on mountain roads. They are not safe to approach. Keep vehicle windows closed and doors closed. Review OSAC’s report, When Wildlife Attacks.

Crime: Areas of Concern

​Downtown Asmara is generally populated from morning until midnight. Asmara is a very active city during the night. People can walk around fairly freely, although the Embassy advises avoiding venturing onto isolated streets late at night so as to avoid encounters with youth gangs, intoxicated individuals, and emotionally disturbed persons (EDPs), who have been known to assault Eritreans and foreigners alike. The Embassy is unaware of any major criminal activity, aside from petty theft and harassment from EDPs.  

The Embassy has no specific areas of concern at the time of this report, although it should be noted that crime is generally higher in the early morning hours near area bus stations, and in areas with high bar/club concentrations (i.e., the Expo Center and downtown area), or neighborhoods and shopping areas throughout Asmara that attract residents and visitors alike and, therefore, petty criminals. As a best practice, remain vigilant and practice heightened awareness in large crowds.

Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind, Hotels: The Inns and Outs, Considerations for Hotel Security, and Taking Credit.  

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnapping rarely occurs; expatriates and most locals can freely walk throughout the city, day or night.

The U.S. Department of State has not included a Kidnapping “K” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Eritrea. Review OSAC’s reports, Kidnapping: The Basics and Active Shooter and Kidnapping Response Tips.

Drug Crime

​Eritrea has very strict drug laws; penalties are harsh. 

Consult with the CIA World Factbook’s section on Illicit Drugs for country-specific information.

Terrorism Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Asmara as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

The U.S. Department of State has not included a Terrorism “T” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Eritrea.

The Institute for Economics & Peace Global Terrorism Index 2020 ranks Eritrea 135 out of 163 worldwide, rating the country as having No Impact from terrorism.

Terrorism: General Threat

There have been no known acts of terrorism in Asmara in recent years. The government maintains a particularly tight hold on security in Massawa, Keren, and Asmara, the most densely populated cities. 

Ethiopia and Eritrea signed a peace agreement in 2018. The four border crossings reopened for a short period of time before closing again until proper border regulations and infrastructure are in place to address cross-border trade and security concerns.  

Since the outbreak of fighting in the border region of Tigray, Ethiopia, in November 2020, the border region has become less secure. This could facilitate an opportunity for terrorists to enter into Eritrea from Tigray. If that occurred, there is a very low probability that U.S. interests would be the target of any attack; however, any attack in Asmara could trigger instability and a strong, immediate security response, which could impact the broader population, including Westerners.

Political Violence and Civil Unrest Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Asmara as being a HIGH-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Elections/Political Stability

​The government came to power in a 1993 popular referendum, in which voters chose to have an independent country managed by a transitional government. This government did not permit the formation of a democratic system. The government twice scheduled elections in accordance with the unimplemented constitution but canceled them without explanation. Eritrea is a one-party state. Political power rests with the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) and its institutions. At times the government has coerced persons to join the PFDJ.

Protest & Demonstration Activity

​There is a modest risk from civil unrest in Asmara. Demonstrations are rare. For more information, review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Security Agencies

​A centralized police service investigates crimes and enforces traffic laws. Traffic police handle any traffic accidents/violations. Eritrea is divided into six districts. Maekel (meaning “Central”) District encompasses Asmara and the surrounding areas. Each district has smaller areas of responsibility, each with a police station. 

Besides the criminal and traffic police, there are also military police responsible for responding to protests, riots, or other civil disturbances. Although the government maintains a special “riot police,” military police or actual military units generally respond to anything resembling civil unrest.  

Eritrea has a diplomatic police unit that purportedly provides mobile and foot patrols at diplomatic missions in Asmara. These types of patrols have not been visible in recent years; however, the police have responded to alarms that originated from Embassy drills. This unit is also responsible for the investigation of crimes involving diplomatic property or personnel.  

Eritrea employs law enforcement agencies managed by each municipality. These are unarmed police who do not have arrest powers and mainly oversee administrative issues. They are responsible for visiting building sites to ensure the builder has a permit; verifying that businesses have first-aid kits and fire extinguishers; and checking grocery stores for selling expired items or using plastic bags, which are illegal. They also regulate street vendors.  

The civilian militia has taken on some patrol duties. At night, members patrol their neighborhoods. The civilian militia has static posts where they provide coverage to banks, gas depots, government buildings, the airport, etc. They are similar to police officers, just with more specific and restricted mandates, and are sometimes (particularly during large national holidays or events such as the May 24 Independence Day celebration) specifically instructed to check the documents of pedestrians to ensure compliance with National Service requirements. 

Police Response

The emergency line in Eritrea is 113. Police generally do not speak English; communication can be difficult. Local police are generally willing to assist, but sometimes lack the capability. It is possible that officers will not be able to arrive at the scene of the crime, but would be willing to take a police report at the station. It is not uncommon for individuals to provide police with transportation to a crime scene if a police vehicle is not available. District stations manage most crimes. However, if a crime involves corruption or the diplomatic community, districts refer it to headquarters for investigation.

U.S. citizen victims of crime should also report the incident to the Embassy, as it is unlikely that the local police will share that information. The U.S. Embassy is limited in its ability to assist in cases of arrest of U.S. citizens, especially those who are dual nationals of Eritrean descent. The government does not notify the U.S. Embassy of arrested U.S. citizens, and it does not allow U.S. Embassy visits to detainees. If authorities harass or detain a U.S. citizen, call or have a friend report the circumstances to the Embassy (+291-1-120-004). Attempt to get the name of the officer; this may be very difficult due to language barriers, and the fact that the Eritrean government is generally not cooperative. Download the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Emergency Contact/Information

The emergency line in Eritrea is 113. The Maekel Police District encompasses Asmara and the surrounding areas. The Maekel District has seven police stations:  

  • Crime Prevention Unit: +291-1-125-229 
  • Investigations Unit: +291-1-115-402 
  • Airport Security: +291-1-186-604 
  • 1st police station: +291-1-127-799 
  • 2nd police station: +291-1-116-219 
  • 3rd police station: +291-1-114-942 
  • 4th police station: +291-08-373-068 
  • 5th police station: +291-1-151-118 
  • 6th police station: +291-1-115-551 
  • 7th police station: +291-1-186-743 

Transportation Security

Road Safety

​Asmara is on a plateau at an elevation of more than 7,000 feet. The roads leading to the city are dangerously steep, curving, and narrow, with most in poor condition and with minimal or no guardrails. Roads are frequently littered with rocks and debris. 

Driving is challenging. Drivers often do not observe rules of the road. It is not uncommon to find vehicles stopped in active traffic lanes. The causes for vehicular accidents are predominately speeding, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, not observing traffic rules, and poor road and vehicle conditions. Trucks hauling products from Massawa sometimes lack regular maintenance due to the expense and lack of spare parts; drivers tend to improvise repairs. Thick fog is also common during certain times of the year. A significant amount of travel is on precarious roads, where fog and haphazard driving regularly result in fatalities. Defensive driving is imperative. Trucks are heavily laden with goods, and many drivers tend to exceed speed limits and ignore local traffic norms. 

The biggest road hazard is non-vehicular traffic in the roadway (e.g., pedestrians, persons in wheelchairs, bicycles, donkey carts). Pedestrians and bicyclists are a particular hazard because they tend to disregard vehicular traffic; many walk/ride with earphones on, and are not cognizant or situationally aware of road hazards. Bicyclists will sometimes turn unexpectedly in front of drivers or end up on the side of a vehicle at intersections, which is dangerous when making a right turn. Almost no bicyclists use reflective gear, lights, or helmets. It is also common to see a large number of young children in the streets going/coming from school or playing soccer. Children are most visibly present during the summer (end of June-beginning of September) when schools close. Pedestrians should be extremely vigilant at night due to the absence of streetlights and the poor condition of roads and sidewalks, and should always carry a flashlight. 

An added complication to driving is the road conditions. The main roads in Asmara are good; however, side roads have little maintenance and often contain significant potholes. Many roads, particularly in residential areas, are unimproved dirt. Driving at night is especially dangerous due to frequent power outages. Avoid travel outside of the city after dark or under less-than-ideal weather conditions.  

Local law enforcement regularly maintains a police presence at various intersections via foot patrol and in police vehicles. Police also conduct random sobriety and driver’s license checkpoints. Authorities regularly administer sobriety checks on the spot, with a more thorough examination at a local police precinct. The legal alcohol limit is 0.08%. Drivers in Eritrea must obtain an Eritrean driver’s license; U.S. or international driver’s licenses are invalid. Those involved in an automobile accident (including single-vehicle accidents) should contact the local police immediately. Leave your car in place until the local police arrive to take a report. Mechanics are not allowed to make repairs without a police report on the accident. If a crowd forms and becomes hostile, contact the U.S. Embassy.

For detailed, country-specific road and vehicle safety information, read the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety.

For more information, review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.  

Public Transportation Safety

While many Eritreans rely on the local bus service, the Embassy does not recommend foreigners use public buses due to severe overcrowding, lack of maintenance, and high probability of pickpocketing.  

Taxicabs are generally safe and dependable. Ideally, travelers should negotiate the price in advance, but this can often be difficult in practice without local language skills. Taxicabs customarily pick up multiple passengers; if you do not want this to happen, advise the cab driver in advance. The cost for a non-shared taxi will be ten times the normal fare. For more information, review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights; and consider the European Union Air Safety List.

Aviation Concerns

​Security at Asmara International Airport (ASM) can be unpredictable. While the airport does show signs of due diligence in security, screening, and identification verification, the use of national service conscripts generally results in a lack of efficiency and consistency in their job performance. Persons manning passport control are often inexperienced. It is not uncommon to have a number of people check your passport upon arrival/departure. It may take up to an hour to get through incoming passport control. Foreign passports and entry documents may face heavy scrutiny. Carrying identity documents such as ID cards and passports belonging to other individuals in or out of Eritrea is prohibited. Airport personnel may screen arriving passengers’ personal effects coming into Eritrea. Airport security personnel also often search departing passengers’ personal effects for possible contraband. Airport security lacks technology to detect fraudulent documents. The Eritrean government prohibits travelers from taking more than 1,000 Nakfa (currently approximately $66) out of Eritrea; authorities may confiscate the money and/or detain the violator. 

Maritime Concerns

Certain remote Eritrean islands host military facilities and are not accessible to tourists. Travel to any Red Sea islands requires a special travel permit for sea excursions, which travelers can arrange through local tourist and boating agencies.  

Personal Identity & Human Rights Concerns

Eritrea does not recognize dual nationality. Eritrean authorities consider dual U.S.-Eritrean citizens as Eritrean nationals alone, severely limiting the ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services. Eritrean nationals are subject to certain obligations, including taxes and conscription into national service; the National Service Proclamation of 1995 states that any Eritrean national between the age of 18 and 50 must participate in National Service. The government requires proof of payment of the 2% income tax for members of the diaspora to obtain any civil documents (e.g., birth certificates, educational transcripts, property ownership records, court records). Inquire at an Eritrean embassy or consulate regarding status before you travel.

Safety Concerns for Women Travelers

Domestic violence, punishable as assault and battery, is common among the local population but rarely reported; authorities hardly ever prosecute perpetrators. No information is available on the prevalence of rape. Despite the availability of official statistics, the Embassy is aware instances of rape among the local population are common. Moreover, spousal rape is not criminalized under Eritrean law. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female travelers.

Consider composite scores given to Eritrea by the UN Development Program (UNDP) in its Gender Development Index, measuring the difference between average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development, and Gender Inequality Index, measuring inequality in achievement in reproductive health, empowerment, and the labor market. For more information on gender statistics in Eritrea, see the World Bank's Gender Data Portal.

Review the State Department’s webpage for female travelers.

Safety Concerns for LGBTI+ Travelers

​Consensual same-sex sexual activity is punishable by ten days to three years of incarceration. Antidiscrimination laws relating to LGBTI+ persons do not exist. There are no known LGBTI+ organizations in the country. Hotels do not allow two females or two males to share one room unless it has separate beds. Review OSAC’s report, Supporting LGBT+ Employee Security Abroad, and the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI travelers.

Safety Concerns for Travelers with Disabilities

​Persons with disabilities face limited access to transportation, public buildings, hotels, and communication accommodations. Within Asmara, sidewalks are plentiful, although most are in bad condition and do not have curb cuts. Few buildings have elevators. Due to frequent power outages, these elevators may not function. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.

Safety Concerns for Travelers Based on Race, Religion, & Ethnicity

​The government officially recognizes four religions: Orthodox Christianity; Sunni Islam; Lutheranism; and Roman Catholicism; followers of unrecognized religions, particularly Jehovah's Witnesses and Pentecostals, have been subject to persecution. Jehovah’s Witnesses International publicly alleges the incarceration of 24 believers. Many speculate that Jehovah's Witnesses may be persecuted due to their unwillingness to bear arms, and their refusal to participate in the original vote for Eritrean independence. In a country with mandatory national service and no alternative for conscientious objectors, these individuals may face prison sentences for not fulfilling their duties as citizens. Authorities also detain Pentecostals regularly for participating in unauthorized worship gatherings, although they fulfill national service obligations.

Review the latest U.S Department of State Report on International Religious Freedom for country-specific information.

Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.  

Anti-U.S./Anti-Western Sentiment

​There is an undercurrent of anti-U.S. and anti-Western sentiment among some Eritreans, mostly related to economic issues. Most incidents have not escalated above a verbal altercation. 

Concerns involving the Rule of Law, Arbitrary Detention, Official Harassment, Corruption &/or Transparency

Lack of transparency and access to information make it impossible to determine the numbers or circumstances of criminal arrests and prosecutions. Eritrean law and the unimplemented constitution prohibit arbitrary arrest and detention, but such acts remained widespread. The law stipulates that, unless there is a crime in progress, police must conduct an investigation and obtain a warrant prior to making an arrest; they may waive the process in cases involving national security. Detainees must appear before a judge within 48 hours of arrest, and authorities may not hold them for more than 28 days without charge. Nevertheless, authorities generally detain suspects for longer periods without bringing them before a judge, charging them with a crime, or telling them the reason for detention. Authorities sometimes arbitrarily change charges during detention. Some persons are held without charge due to national security concerns. Eritrean law provides criminal penalties for corruption by officials, but the process in which the law is applied lacks transparency.

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Eritrea 160 out of 180 worldwide, where 1 means most transparent.

Communication Issues

Although Eritrean law and the unimplemented constitution provide for freedom of speech, including for the press, the government severely restricts these rights. Eritrean law bans private broadcast media and foreign ownership of media and requires submission of documents, including books, to the government for approval prior to publication. The government controls all domestic media, including one newspaper published in four languages, three radio stations, and two television stations.

Eritrean law requires journalists to be licensed. The law restricts printing and publication of materials. The printing of a publication by anyone lacking a permit and the printing or dissemination of prohibited foreign publications are both punishable under the law. Government approval is required for distribution of publications from religious or international organizations.

Although Eritrean law and the unimplemented constitution provide for freedom of speech, including for the press, the government severely restricts these rights. The government severely restricts the ability of individuals to criticize the government in public or in private through intimidation by national security forces. Review OSAC’s report, Lèse Majesté: Watching what you say (and type) abroad.

The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks Eritrea 180 out of 180 worldwide, where 1 means most freedom. The Freedom House Freedom in the World report rates Eritrea’s freedom of speech as Not Free.

Health Concerns

Emergency Health Services      

​ For emergency medical services in Eritrea, dial 202-914, 201-917, or 201-606. Ambulance services are not widely available. Ambulances have minimal equipment; training and availability of emergency responders may be below U.S. standards. Injured or seriously ill travelers may prefer to take a taxi or private vehicle to the nearest major hospital rather than wait for an ambulance.

Dengue, diarrheal diseases, and malaria are prevalent; malaria only in the lowlands outside Asmara. Use CDC-recommended mosquito repellents and sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets in these areas. Chemoprophylaxis is recommended for all travelers, even for short stays.

Medical facilities and physicians are limited. Doctors and hospitals expect payment at the time of service for foreigners. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on insurance overseas.

Find contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy website. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on health insurance overseas.

The U.S. Department of State has included a Health “H” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Eritrea, indicating that Health risks, including current disease outbreaks or a crisis that temporarily disrupts a country’s medical infrastructure, are present.

Review the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) country-specific Travel Health Notices for current health issues that impact traveler health, like disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, and natural disasters.

See OSAC’s Guide to U.S. Government-Assisted Evacuations; review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad; and visit the State Department’s webpage on Your Health Abroad for more information.

Vaccinations

​A Yellow Fever (YF) vaccination is required for all travelers above nine months of age traveling from a country with risk of YF virus transmission. YF vaccination is generally not recommended for travelers going to the following states: Anseba, Debub, Gash Barka, Mae Kel, and Semenawi Keih Bahri, including the Dahlak Archipelago. Review the CDC Travelers’ Health site for country-specific vaccine recommendations.

Issues Traveling with Medications

​Medicines are in short supply. Bring your own medical supplies, prescription drugs, and preventative medicines. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with Medication.  

Water Quality

Do not drink tap water in Eritrea; drink bottled or disinfected water. According to the Borgen Project, around 85% of Eritrea’s population uses unimproved sanitation facilities. Without proper latrines, fecal matter winds up in local groundwater, contaminating wells and watering holes. An inventory of water supplies in Eritrea found that 40-90% were contaminated, and sewage was a major cause. Diarrheal diseases are the leading cause of death for children under the age of five in Eritrea. Contaminated water sources also cause cholera. Review OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?

Environmental Hazards

​As Eritrea is located on a fault line, earthquakes are possible. On December 25, 2020, a 4.4- magnitude earthquake hit the Gash-Barka region.

Cybersecurity Concerns

Eritel, a government-owned corporation, has a monopoly on providing land-based internet service. The use of internet cafes with limited bandwidth in Asmara and other large communities is widespread, but the vast majority of persons do not have access to the internet. According to most recent International Telecommunication Union data, 1.3% of the population used the internet in 2017. Internet users who needed larger bandwidth paid prices beyond the reach of most individuals.

Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling Abroad with Mobile Devices, and Guide for Overseas Satellite Phone Usage.

Counterintelligence Issues

​The Eritrean government routinely monitors internet communications, including email. Government informants frequent internet cafes. In order to use an internet cafe, patrons must present proof they had completed national service. The government discourages citizens from viewing some opposition websites by labeling the sites and their developers as saboteurs. Some citizens express fear of arrest if caught viewing such sites. Nonetheless, the sites are generally available.

Other Security Concerns

Landmines

​There are landmines in many remote areas in Eritrea, particularly in Nakfa, AdiKeih, Arezza, the 25 mile-wide region (40 km) between the Setit and Mereb Rivers, and in areas north and west of Keren, near Massawa, Ghinda, Agordat, Barentu, Dekemhare, and south of Tessenae.

Import/Export Restrictions

​The government tightly controls import and export licenses; typically, only government- or party-run entities are able to get these licenses. Even when an organization is able to import items, customs officials can hold up clearance with no explanation. A country-specific listing of items goods prohibited from being exported to the country or that are otherwise restricted is available from the U.S. International Trade Agency website.

Photography

Exercise caution when taking photographs in Eritrea. Individuals taking photos of military or government installations can face a warning, harassment, confiscation of the phone/camera, arrest, detention, or interrogation. Do not take photos of Eritreans without their permission. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.

ID Requirements

Foreigners of Eritrean descent should ensure they have correct identification and paperwork acceptable to the Eritrean government prior to travel. Individuals Eritrea believes to be Eritrean will not be allowed to leave the country without correct documentation.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns

​Frequent power failures cause sustained blackouts without warning. Eritrea is experiencing a water supply shortage. The government rations water.   

Minor accidents occur frequently in factories. Some factories are in ill repair, with safeguards found in Western factories often absent. Safety training for employees is rare, leading to deaths at factories.  

Telecoms are unreliable, and internet service is available only at local internet cafes (which have been closed since March 2020 as a COVID-19 measure).  Local SIM cards are not available for purchase without a residence permit. There is no data service or roaming available. The government controls communications (cell phone and internet) and has shut down social media during periods of civil unrest.

OSAC Country Chapters

​Asmara does not have an active Country Chapter. Contact OSAC’s Africa team with any questions.

Embassy Contact Information

U.S. Embassy: 179 Alaa Street, Asmara

Monday-Thursday 0730-1700, Friday 0730-1330 

Embassy Operator: +291-1-120-004 

Trustworthy News Sources

Ranked last in the world in press freedom, there are no trustworthy news sources in Eritrea.

Other Helpful Info

 

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