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Yemen Country Security Report

Travel Advisory

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses that travelers should not travel to Yemen due to COVID-19, terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, armed conflict, and landmines.

The Travel Advisory lists areas with increased risk. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.

The Institute for Economics & Peace Global Peace Index 2021 ranks Yemen 162 out of 163 worldwide, rating the country as being at a Very Low state of peace.

Crime Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Yemen 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 Yemen.

Emergency line: 199

Review the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.

Crime: General Threat

The Fragile State Index ranks Yemen as the world’s most fragile state due to the ongoing conflict, exemplified by an increased crime rate and a decrease in law enforcement. The instability created by Yemen’s security, economic, and social conditions has created a fertile environment for crime and corruption both in the areas controlled by the Houthis and the internationally recognized government. Despite the prevalence of checkpoints throughout the country, criminal activities such as kidnapping, petty theft, carjacking, scams, abuses, sexual harassment, assault, murder, violence, looting and robbery are increasing at an alarming rate.

Crime: Areas of Concern

Burglaries and home invasions are becoming more and more common, especially in the areas of direct conflict. 

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

Kidnapping Threat

The U.S. Department of State has included a Kidnapping “K” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Yemen, indicating that criminal or terrorist individuals or groups have threatened to and/or have seized or detained and threatened to kill, injure, or continue to detain individuals in order to compel a third party (including a governmental organization) to do or abstain from doing something as a condition of release. Review OSAC’s reports, Kidnapping: The Basics and Active Shooter and Kidnapping Response Tips.

Since the beginning of the conflict in 2015, rebel groups in Sana’a have systematically and unlawfully detained U.S. citizens. Reports indicate that criminals target U.S. citizens by virtue of their citizenship, regardless of the amount of time they have spent in Yemen, their established connections with rebel groups, or their connections with local businesses or humanitarian organizations aimed at providing relief to those in need. During their detentions, which in some cases have lasted well over a year, U.S. citizens have not been able to contact their families or receive U.S. consular visits or those from international humanitarian organizations. U.S. government direct assistance to U.S. citizens in detention is severely limited, since there has been no U.S. diplomatic presence in Yemen following the Houthi rebel takeover of Sana’a.

In addition to the threat of detention by rebel groups, there continue to be other risks due to the ongoing conflict and heightened terrorist activity, including kidnappings for ransom. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.

Drug Crime

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to immediate arrest and detention. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Yemen are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. However, Yemen still faces an increase in illegal drugs such as heroin and marijuana.

The use of the stimulant qat/khat is legal and common in Yemen, but it is illegal in many other countries, including a Schedule 1 drug designation in the United States. Do not attempt to bring qat back to the United States; the penalties for trafficking qat include heavy fines and possible imprisonment.

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 Yemen as being a CRITICAL-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

The U.S. Department of State has included a Terrorism “T” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Yemen, indicating that terrorist attacks have occurred and/or specific threats against civilians, groups, or other targets may exist. Review the latest State Department Country Report on Terrorism for Yemen.

The Institute for Economics & Peace Global Terrorism Index 2020 ranks Yemen 6 out of 163 worldwide, rating the country as having a High impact from terrorism.

Terrorism: General Threat

The threat posed by violent extremist groups in Yemen remains high. Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has expanded its influence in Yemen since the beginning of the conflict. Because of the instability and violence in Yemen, the internationally recognized government cannot effectively enforce counterterrorism measures, and a large security vacuum persists. AQAP has benefitted from the conflict by significantly expanding its presence in the southern and eastern governorates. ISIS has also established a presence in Yemen and claimed responsibility for several deadly attacks throughout Yemen since 2016. Methods include suicide bombings, vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs), ambushes, kidnappings, and targeted assassinations. All governorates of Yemen have witnessed violence due to conflicts between the Houthis, tribal militias, government forces, and a range of non-state actors, including AQAP and ISIS.

The U.S. government remains extremely concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), U.S. private-sector facilities, and perceived U.S. and Western interests.

Political Violence and Civil Unrest Environment

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

Elections/Political Stability

​Now in its sixth year, Yemen’s civil conflict has exacerbated the world’s worst food security emergency and engendered a war economy that further disadvantages the most vulnerable. The protracted war has drawn in neighboring states; it has led to collapsed state institutions, local power vacuums and ungoverned spaces that militias and terrorists are exploiting to threaten close regional allies. The war has complicated ongoing counterterrorism efforts and has provided Iran a space to pursue its own ambitions in Yemen, further threatening regional stability.

In 2015, the Saudi-led coalition (SLC) initiated an air campaign in support of the internationally recognized Yemeni government. A nationwide cessation of hostilities ended in 2016, and high levels of violence, to include armed conflict, artillery shelling, and air strikes, persist in areas throughout the country. Instability and ongoing threats in Yemen are at a severe level. Frequent airstrikes and shelling in many areas of Yemen have led to high levels of civilian casualties.  

In August 2019, UAE-backed Security Belt Forces, many of which aligned with the Southern Transitional Council (STC), took over the internationally recognized government’s temporary capital of Aden and several other southern territories, leading to an increase of the level of violence in Aden, Lahij, Abyan, and Shabwah governorates as the STC continued to contest control over southern Yemen. In October 2019, Saudi forces replaced UAE forces in Aden and established security conditions to enable the return of the government to its temporary capital. In December 2020, the Republic of Yemen Government officially returned to Aden, although the city continues to experience increasing levels of violence.    

Protest & Demonstration Activity

The Houthis have frequently encouraged protests in Sana’a against the SLC, and, in some cases, at UN offices and those of other international NGOs.

Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Security Agencies

​Due to the ongoing civil unrest throughout the country, do not rely on assistance from local authorities. The current conflict has caused the deterioration and dislocation of Yemen’s security sector. The Houthis remain in control of much of Yemen’s traditional military infrastructure and weapons caches in the north. The Republic of Yemen Government (ROYG) armed forces continue to reconstitute themselves, even as they fight the Houthis and an expanded AQAP presence, in partnership with the SLC.

Saudi-brokered diplomatic efforts to restore the ROYG to Aden under the Riyadh Agreement were successful in December. In ROYG-controlled areas, police and security units fall under the Interior Ministry. The most common police and security agencies include the Special Security Forces (SSF) and the Political Security Office, which principally patrol and staff checkpoints; the Emergency Police (Najda); and the General Police, which work in police stations and usually respond to reports of general criminal activities. However, police may not provide security support unless the victim pays them. 

The situation is similar in Houthi-controlled areas, the police and security units fall under the Houthi Interior Ministry or the Houthis’ Revolutionary Committee. The police and security agencies most people will encounter include the Special Security Forces and other security groups administrated by the Houthis’ Revolutionary Committee, which principally patrol and staff checkpoints.

Civilian authorities do not maintain effective control over security forces. Competing tribal, party, and sectarian influences have further reduced ROYG authority, exhibited in April when the secessionist Southern Transitional Council declared “self-administration” over Aden. Members of the security forces on all sides commit abuses.

Police Response

Police stations are clearly identified with signs. Police officers on foot and in locations throughout Sana’a are also easy to find; however, it is very rare to find a police officer who can speak English. 

Police and military checkpoints – official and unofficial – are common and may appear with little or no advance notice. Those staffing checking points generally do not wear police uniforms, which makes it difficult to recognize and differentiate police checkpoints from military or local tribal checkpoints. Sana’a and other Houthi-controlled cities are not safe for foreigners. Those manning checkpoints will likely stop foreigners, interrogate, possibly arrest them, and take them to the nearest police station. Yemenis who also possess any other foreign citizenship must carry their National Yemeni IDs to avoid targeting at checkpoints.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Emergency Contact/Information

The emergency line in Yemen is 199; the service is unreliable, and the operators do not speak English.

Transportation Security

Road Safety

Travel by road in Yemen is risky. Although there are traffic officers everywhere, driving around Sana’a and all other Yemeni cities is extremely hazardous. Authorities do not enforce standard driving and traffic rules, and drivers mostly ignore the instructions and existence of traffic officers. It is common to see a person driving on the wrong side of the road or at high rates of speed. Most vehicles do not meet U.S. safety standards. Many vehicles lack proper lighting or mirrors, and are unlicensed. If they exist, traffic lights may not be in working condition, and streetlights are often non-functioning due to a lack of electricity. Streets are crowded with motorcycles, which mostly are unlicensed and used as taxis; motorcyclists are often involved in accidents, since they do not have dedicated lanes and drivers do not obey the traffic rules. It is common to see underage drivers or heavy trucks moving in the main streets during the day. Street hazards include large potholes, which are widespread due to a lack of maintenance and unmarked speed bumps. Traveling on the roads between cities can be very dangerous due to carjacking and kidnapping, which mostly target foreigners. 

Traffic accidents are common due to a lack of obedience with basic traffic rules and poor vehicle maintenance. Drivers of all types of vehicles may drive under the influence of qat, considered a Schedule 1 narcotic in the U.S.  

Saudi Arabia has reinforced its concrete-filled security barrier along sections of the fully demarcated border with Yemen to stem illegal cross-border activities.

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

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

Public transportation is limited and highly discouraged due to safety and security concerns.

Review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights; and consider the European Union Air Safety List.

Aviation Concerns

The United States is concerned about the risk to civil aviation operating in specified areas of the Sana’a Flight Information Region (FIR) due to the ongoing military operations, political instability, and violence from competing armed groups involved in combat operations and other military-related activity. The FAA has prohibited U.S. civil aviation from flying in specific areas within the FIR.

Maritime Security

Vessels in the region of the Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, and the Gulf of Aden, including near the island of Socotra, should operate under a heightened state of alert, as increasing tensions in the region increase the potential for direct or collateral damage to vessels transiting the area. These threats may come from a variety of different sources such as missiles, projectiles, or water-borne improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean remains a security threat to maritime activities in the region. The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) advises that elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of maritime attacks by extremists to vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions. 

MARAD recommends vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speeds should be especially vigilant and report suspicious activity. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the area should report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to the COMUSNAVCENT Battlewatch Captain at +973-1785-3879. Report all suspicious activities and events to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at 1-800-424-8802, 1-202-267-2675, or TDD 1-202-267-4477. Review the Department of State’s International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet

Mariners planning travel to Yemen should check for U.S. maritime advisories and alerts on the MARAD website, the U.S. Coast Guard homeport website, and the NGA broadcast warnings website

Consult with the Stable Seas Maritime Security Index for detailed information and ratings regarding rule of law, law enforcement, piracy, and other maritime security indicators.

Personal Identity & Human Rights Concerns

Significant human rights issues include unlawful or arbitrary killings by all parties; forced disappearances by all parties; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the ROYG, Houthis, and Emiratis; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; arbitrary infringements on privacy rights; serious abuses in an internal conflict, including unlawful recruitment or use of child soldiers, primarily by the Houthis; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including violence, threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, censorship, site blocking, and the existence of criminal libel and slander laws; substantial interference with freedom of assembly and association; serious restrictions on freedom of movement; pervasive abuse of migrants; the inability of citizens to choose their government through free and fair elections; serious acts of corruption; lack of investigation of and accountability for violence against women; criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and the worst forms of child labor.

Safety Concerns for Women Travelers

Women face deeply entrenched discrimination in both law and practice in all aspects of their lives. Mechanisms to enforce equal protection are weak, and the government does not implement them effectively. Women in custody disputes in Yemen will not enjoy the same rights that they do in the United States, as Yemeni law often does not work in favor of the mother. Women also face unequal treatment in courts, where the importance given a woman’s testimony equals half that of a man’s. Parents should also note that Yemen might not enforce U.S. custody orders. U.S. citizen women married to Yemeni men should be aware that their children may not be able to depart Yemen. In many instances, women must obtain permission from their husbands to obtain an exit visa. They also may not be able to take their children out of Yemen without the permission of the father, regardless of who has legal custody. Authorities may not recognize U.S. divorce decrees, especially if the marriage took place in Yemen. Some U.S. citizen women who have married in Yemen and divorced in the United States have been prevented from departing Yemen by their ex-husbands.

The law states that authorities should execute a man if convicted of killing a woman. The penal code, however, allows leniency for persons guilty of committing an “honor” killing or violently assaulting or killing a woman for perceived “immodest” or “defiant” behavior. The law does not address other types of gender-based abuse, such as forced isolation, imprisonment, and early and forced marriage. Victims rarely report domestic abuse to police, and criminal proceedings in cases of domestic abuse are rare.

The law criminalizes rape, but it does not criminalize spousal rape. The punishment for rape is imprisonment for up to 25 years. The government does not enforce the law effectively.

The UN has reported that incidents of gender-based violence are increasing. The Office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Sexual Violence reported that women and children face a high risk of sexual violence, and noted that female political leaders and activists have been systemically targeted by the Houthis since 2017. The UN Group of Experts reported that in Houthi-controlled territory, women either are threatened with or experienced prostitution charges, physical harm, arbitrary and secret detention, and sexual violence if they speak out against the Houthis. Women also are reported as having an increased vulnerability due to the conflict and subsequent displacements.

Consider composite scores given to Yemen 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 Yemen, see the World Bank's Gender Data Portal.

Review the State Department’s webpage for female travelers.

Safety Concerns for LGBTI+ Travelers

The penal code criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual conduct, with the death penalty as a sanction under the country’s interpretation of Islamic law. However, there have been no known executions of LGBTI+ persons in more than a decade. The government does not consider violence or discrimination against LGBTI+ persons “relevant” for official reporting. Due to the illegality of and possible severe punishment for consensual same-sex sexual conduct, few LGBTI+ persons are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity. Individuals known or suspected of being LGBTI+ face discrimination. There are no LGBTI+ organizations. The government blocks access to internet sites containing LGBTI-related content. There is one active LGBTI-related social media site.

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

Several laws mandate the rights and care of persons with disabilities, but the government does not effectively enforce them. The law permits persons with disabilities to exercise the same rights as persons without disabilities, but this does not happen in practice. Social stigma and official indifference are obstacles to implementation. Although the law mandates that new buildings have access for persons with disabilities, compliance is poor.

Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.

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

Religious violence occurs in all areas of Yemen. In September 2018, a Houthi-controlled court in Sana’a charged more than 20 Baha’is with apostasy and espionage. According to media reports, Houthi authorities modified the University of Sana’a student and faculty identification cards to include the Houthi flag and slogan “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam.” Sectarian polarization stimulated by the war with the Zaydi Houthis attracted recruits to AQAP; the estimated number of AQAP operatives inside the country is now between 6,000 and 7,000. In January 2018, Khaled Batarfi, a senior AQAP leader, recorded a video calling for knife and vehicle attacks against Jews in response to the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. According to media reports, most live in a compound in Sana’a. The continuing conflict further weakened law enforcement. Targeted discrimination by the Houthi authorities puts the Jewish community at risk. Most have fled the country as a result. Approximately 20 Jews remain in the country.

Although racial discrimination is illegal, some groups, such as the Muhamasheen or Akhdam community, and the Muwaladeen (Yemenis born to foreign parents), face social and institutional discrimination based on race, ethnicity, and social status. The Muhamasheen, who traditionally provide low-prestige services such as street sweeping, generally live in poverty and endure persistent societal discrimination. Muhamasheen women are particularly vulnerable to rape and other abuse because of the general impunity for attackers due to the women’s low-caste status. The UN Group of Experts report the Muhamasheen continue to be targets of extreme sexual violence. There are reports of chattel slavery of the Muhamasheen. Houthis have reportedly recruited Muhamasheen fighters more actively to fight against the ROYG.

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

The security environment is not hospitable to U.S. citizens. The Houthi slogan of “Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse the Jews, Victory to Islam” exemplifies anti-U.S. sentiment of the rebel group.

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

Although the law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, both continue to occur because most Yemenis working in law enforcement have not received salaries for several years or are paid very low salaries, fostering an environment ripe for corruption. Those in Houthi-controlled areas have accused U.S. citizens of being spies for the U.S. Government, subjecting them to strict surveillance and arbitrary detention. Detainees face torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment. Prison conditions are mostly harsh and life threatening, and do not meet international standards.

While the law provides for criminal penalties for official corruption, the government does not implement the law effectively. There are reports of official corruption. A burdensome criminal judicial process creates a separate legal system for the political elite. According to the constitution, approval of one-fifth of the members of parliament is necessary to conduct a criminal investigation of a deputy minister or higher-ranking official. The law then requires a two-thirds majority in parliament and presidential permission to bring criminal investigation results to the general prosecutor for indictment. The government has never used the procedure.

Corruption is pervasive throughout the country, and observers report petty corruption in nearly every government office. Job applicants are often expected to purchase their positions. Observers believe tax inspectors undervalue assessments and pocket the difference. Many government officials and civil service employees receive salaries for jobs they do not perform or multiple salaries for the same job. Corruption also regularly affects government procurement. Corruption and goods on the black market increase overall in parts of Houthi-controlled areas, particularly in institutions controlled from Sana’a.

Recent analyses by international and local observers, including Transparency International, agreed corruption was a serious problem in every branch and level of government, and especially in the security sector. International observers claim government officials benefit from insider arrangements, embezzlement, and bribes. Political leaders and most government agencies take negligible action to combat corruption.

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Yemen 176 out of 180 worldwide, where 1 means most transparent.

Communication Issues

​The government is unable to take any substantive steps to protect journalists from violence and harassment. Pro-government popular resistance forces, Houthis, and tribal militias are responsible for a range of abuses against media outlets. Amnesty International reports the Houthis have detained at least ten journalists since 2015 on false charges, subjecting them to torture and other forms of abuse. The UN Group of Experts reported 40 cases of women human rights defenders, journalists, and activists facing “gender-based persecution” in 2019, which included threats from all sides of the conflict.

Although the constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for the press “within the limits of the law,” the law calls for journalists to uphold national unity and prohibits criticism of the head of state. The Houthis do not respect the rights as provided in the constitution, and the government is unable to enforce them.

All parties to the conflict severely restrict the right to freedom of expression. Female human rights defenders, journalists, and activists face specific repression on the basis of gender. Local human rights defenders face harassment, threats, and smear campaigns from the government, SLC, and Houthi forces. Freedom House reported that freedom of personal expression and private discussion remain severely limited as a result of intimidation by armed groups and unchecked surveillance by the Houthi authorities. In multiple instances, Houthis have gone to the homes of activists, journalists, and political leaders opposed to the Houthis and used the threat of arrest and other means to intimidate perceived opponents and to silence dissent.

The UN Group of Experts reported that the Houthis arbitrarily detain journalists and human rights defenders in Sana’a prisons, such as Sana’a Central Prison, unofficial facilities like the security and intelligence detention center, and in secret detention facilities, including former residential buildings in and around Sana’a.

The Houthis controlled several state ministries responsible for press and communications, including the Telecommunications Ministry. In that capacity, they select items for formerly government-run broadcast and print media and do not allow reports critical of themselves. The Telecommunications Ministry and internet service providers reportedly block websites and domains that authorities deem critical of the Houthi agenda.

The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks Yemen 169 out of 180 worldwide, where 1 means most freedom. The Freedom House Freedom in the World report rates Yemen’s freedom of speech as Not Free.

Review OSAC’s report, Lèse Majesté: Watching what you say (and type) abroad.

​Health Concerns

Emergency Health Services      

The emergency line in Yemen is 199; the service is unreliable, and the operators do not speak English. Due to the lack of reliable street addresses, emergency callers should provide directions based on prominent landmarks and prepare to meet the ambulance upon arrival. Prepare directions and keep them by the phone. If you can safely transport the patient to the hospital by private vehicle, you may avoid a potentially long wait for an ambulance. It is important to know the quickest and shortest routes to the main emergency facilities. Due to the ongoing civil unrest, medical facilities may not be readily available.

There are various medical clinics and hospitals throughout Sanaa, but not all facilities offer full medical services, and emergency care is limited. Medical care outside Sana’a is even more limited.   

For non-life-threatening emergencies or routine consultations, several private medical centers and medical providers are available. Identify and select a primary care physician and a pediatrician if required. Foreigners residing or traveling in Sana’a frequented the following medical service providers in the past, though the numbers of foreigners in Sana’a has reduced significantly since the conflict began:

  • University of Science and Technology Hospital, Across from the rear gate of Sana’a University, 60th Street, +967 1 500 000 [MW1] 
  • Modern German Hospital, Taiz Street before Al-steen crossing; in front of Al-Tadhamon Islamic Bank, +967 1 600 000
  • Saudi German Hospital, 60th Street, before the crossing of AlJammana, +967 1 313 333 
  • Azal Hospital, 60th Street, next to Mathbah Bridge, +967 1 200 000 
  • Dr. Abdulkadir Al-Mutawakil Hospital, Baghdad Street, next to Future University, +967 1 208 080 
  • Modern European Hospital, 60th Street, in front of Presidential Palace, +967 1 577 777 
  • Yemen German Hospital, Al-Mesbahi Cross, in front of Lulat Haddah Hotel, Hadda Street, +967 1 418 000 
  • Lebanon Heart Hospital, 14 October Square, Haddah, +967 1 425 386 
  • Al-Thawrah General Hospital, Khawlan Street, In front of Bab AlSalam, +967 1 246 966 to 8 / 246 971 to 7 / 246 983 

A male relative’s consent is often required before a woman can be admitted to a hospital, creating significant problems in a humanitarian context in which the men of the household are absent or dead.

Active cholera transmission is widespread in Yemen. Cholera is rare in travelers but can be severe. Certain factors may increase the risk of getting cholera or having severe disease. Avoiding unsafe food and water and washing your hands can also help prevent cholera.

All areas below 2,000 m (6,562 ft) in altitude have risk of malaria, though there is none in Sana’a. Avoid mosquito bites. Consider taking chemoprophylaxis before, during, and after travel to prevent malaria, depending on travel plans such as where you are going, when you are traveling, and if you are spending a lot of time outdoors or sleeping outside. See more detailed information from the CDC about malaria in Yemen.

Rabies can be found in dogs, bats, and other mammals in Yemen.

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 Yemen, 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.


Strongly consider COVID-19 vaccination prior to all travel.

Review the CDC Travelers’ Health site for country-specific vaccine recommendations.

Issues Traveling with Medications

Bring all necessary medications with you to Yemen.

Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with Medication.

Water Quality

Tap water is not potable in Yemen.

Review OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?

Environmental Hazards

Roads are hazardous during rainy seasons due to a lack of adequate drainage. Flash floods pose a significant safety concern and may occur with little or no warning, even in Sana’a. There are sandstorms and dust storms in summer.

Yemen has limited volcanic activity; Jebel at Tair, which forms an island in the Red Sea, erupted in 2007 after awakening from dormancy; other historically active volcanoes include Harra of Arhab, Harras of Dhamar, Harra es-Sawad, and Jebel Zubair, although many of these have not erupted in over a century.

Cybersecurity Concerns

Privacy rights face routine and arbitrary infringement throughout the country. Houthi security actors search homes and private offices, monitor telephone calls, read personal mail and email, and otherwise intrude into personal matters without legally issued warrants or judicial supervision. The law requires that the attorney general personally authorize telephone call monitoring and reading of personal mail and email, but there is no indication the law is followed in practice. There have been notable cases of Houthi intrusion into cyberspace. The Houthi-controlled Public Telecommunications Corporation systematically blocks user access to websites and internet domains it deems dangerous to the rebel actors’ political agenda.

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

Do not bring any proprietary or personal information to Yemen that would bring harm if disclosed.

Other Security Concerns


Other potential hazards to travelers include land mines and unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the civil war and other conflicts. This is of particular concern in the vicinity of Hudaydah, the six southern provinces, and the northern highlands. Most minefields have been identified and cordoned off, but there are still undetected and unidentified minefields in Yemen. 

Import/Export Restrictions

​Yemen is a member of the major treaties administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization, having acceded to the Berne Convention on Copyright in 2008, to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property in 2007 and the WIPO convention in 1979. However, due to the current conflict and limited government control over state institutions, authorities do not enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) effectively. The Ministry of Industry and Trading’s opening of a second IP office in Aden in 2018 independent of the Houthi-controlled IP office in Sana’a raised rights-holder concerns that they would have to file duplicate trademark applications with both registries, and that third parties could use the opportunity to register duplicate trademarks in bad faith. 

Conflict has crippled Yemen’s economy and led to frequent volatility in exchange rate and prices. Due to the limited penetration of the formal banking sector, many exchange transactions proceed through unregulated, private money exchange or black-market channels. International Monetary Fund reports highlight gaps in the Central Bank of Yemen’s (CBY) supervisory capacity over the entire financial system, including compliance with anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) standards. Houthi-controlled authorities in Sana’a have arbitrarily shut down exchange businesses and seized new Yemeni Rial (YER) banknotes printed by the CBY in Aden, while the inferior quality of some CBY-printed notes has enabled widespread counterfeiting. Reports from both Sana’a and Aden indicate that a range of criminal groups engage in the distribution of counterfeit YER notes and counterfeit foreign currency.  

A number of Yemeni individuals and entities are currently sanctioned under the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Yemen Sanctions Program and other authorities. Check the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons list prior to undertaking business with any Yemeni individuals or entities. 

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 of military installations, including airports, equipment, or troops is illegal. In the past, such photography has led to the arrest of U.S. citizens. Military sites are not always obvious. If in doubt, ask specific permission from authorities. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.

ID Requirements

Always carry appropriate identification on your person in Yemen.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns

Power outages and spikes are common. Several regions possess little to no Internet coverage and sporadic electricity availability. Roadways and airports have suffered damage from the ongoing conflict. 

Many international telecommunication and cellular providers do not have coverage in Yemen. Telecommunications services are vital but disrupted. Rebels often deliberately target mobile towers, and maintenance is dangerous to staff. Aid organizations rely on satellite and radio communications. There is a scarcity of telecommunications equipment in rural areas.

OSAC Country Chapters

There is no Country Chapter in Yemen.

Private-sector security managers should contact OSAC’s Middle East & North Africa team with any questions.

Embassy Contact Information

U.S. Embassy Sanaa suspended operations in 2015 due to the ongoing civil conflict. The Yemen Affairs Unit (YAU), provisionally resident at U.S. Embassy Riyadh, continues U.S. diplomatic work to Yemen.

U.S. Embassy in Yemen: Tel: +966 (11) 488-3800

Trustworthy News Sources

There are no trustworthy domestic news sources for Yemen.

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