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Travel Safety after the Death of Bin Laden

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a general travel warning following the death of Bin Laden in Pakistan.

Osama Bin Laden was killed earlier today in an operation by inside Pakistan, the political and global security ramifications of which will be discussed for many months to come and history will ultimately be the only judge of the effect this will have on the world.

In the immediate future we can expect those individuals and ‘organisations’ who use his image as a rallying point and his warped ideology as an excuse to carry out terrorist attacks across the world (amongst people of all nationalities and all faiths, including the one he claimed to represent), to try and avenge his death.

This puts the world as a whole in their crosshairs and tourists / travellers will be in more danger from random terrorist attacks as a result.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has already released a statement warning people to stay away from large gatherings, political demonstrations and to take additional precautions to protect themselves.

Travellers should take particular care in countries where terrorists groups loosely affiliated to Al Qaeda are active or have been active in the past. These include countries such as Indonesia (including the popular island of Bali), the Philippines, the Arabian Peninsular, many of the North African countries, India and high profile European / US targets.

It goes without saying that those countries which should not even be on most travellers’ itineraries such as large parts of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Libya etc. should also be avoided. For the latest information visit the FCO travel advice website; read the advice for the countries you are planning to visit and follow their advice to the letter.

If you find yourself in the vicinity of an attack, our advice is not to hang about to ‘see what happens next’. Get out or the area / country as soon as you can and cut your losses. Yes you may be premature and therefore miss out on part of your holiday / trip, but time after time we see escalation of these situations locally and local facilities being overwhelmed; and therefore local authorities and the local FCO representatives being unable to assist tourists.

If you look at the situation in North Africa over the last few months, we saw on each occasion that as the political situations in these countries deteriorated, that ex-pats and tourists alike were prepared to wait-out the developments, rather than getting out when they could and the result was that when they decided it was time to leave, roads, ports and airports were blocked and / or unable to operate to capacity.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office will assist where they can, but local consulates cannot provide a ‘get out of jail / country free card’. They are there to offer assistance and advice, travellers are responsible for themselves and must prepare as such. Choosing destinations carefully and having a plan for when / if things go wrong, should be an integral part of the planning process.

Osama Bin Laden may now be a chapter in history the world will ultimately not mourn the closing of. However terrorism will remain as long as inequality in its many forms exists and provides an easy opportunity for extremists (from all factions) to pray on the vulnerable they recruit.

Travelling will ultimately be one of the solutions to the imbalance in the world, it allows those who travel to; meet local people and exchange ideas; experience other cultures and accept that it is possible for people with different views / opinions to live alongside one another and compliment each other; witness the inequality which exists; and experience a little of what we can learn from each other to make our own society better.

It is for these reasons that we must continue to encourage travel, while preparing those who do for the challenges they may encounter.


At Safe Gap YearTM our Gap Year / Independent Travel Safety Course considers issues of Travel Safety, alongside sessions on Cultural Awareness, Travel Health, Ethical and Responsible Travel, Travel Equipment, Destination Advice, Transport Options, Documentation, Travel Money and Insurance and more.

For more information on any of our services, please call us on 0845 602 55 95 or Contact Us.

To view the related article – FCO Travel Advice

Source – Safe Gap YearTM 

Date – 2nd May 2011

Submitted by – Peter Mayhew