US issues worldwide travel alert, UK warns against travel to Yemen

The US has issued a worldwide travel alert over an unspecified al-Qaeda threat, while the UK authorities have specifically advised against all travel to Yemen.

In its statement, the US state department said that the potential for an attack was particularly strong in the Middle East and North Africa. The travel alert, which advises US citizens to be vigilant, expires on August 31.

The travel alert comes soon after the US said that 19 of its embassies in North Africa and the Middle East, including in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh, would remain closed until Saturday. ‘Current information suggests al-Qa’ida and affiliated organisations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,’ it said.

Meanwhile, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all travel to Yemen and has strongly urged British nationals to leave immediately.

The FCO said that the closure of the British embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, has been extended until the end of the Muslim festival of Eid (Ramadan) later this week. The mission was to reopen on Tuesday after a two-day closure over concerns a terrorist attack.

‘Due to continuing security concerns, the British embassy in Yemen will remain closed until the end of Eid,’ an FCO spokeswoman said.

Eid, which begins on Wednesday evening, marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and UK officials had advised particular vigilance saying, ‘tensions could be heightened. There is a high threat from terrorism throughout Yemen and a very high threat of kidnap from armed tribes, criminals and terrorists.

‘If you don’t leave the country now while commercial carriers are still flying it is extremely unlikely that the British government will be able to evacuate you or provide consular assistance,’ the FCO advisory added.

Uk advises against travel to Yemen

Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt comments on the recent escalation in violence against citizens in cities across Yemen and urges all sides to exercise maximum restraint.

Speaking today, he said:

“The UK condemns the recent escalation in violence and the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators in Yemen. The number of deaths in Sana’a and Ta’iz since renewed fighting broke out on 18 September is deeply disturbing. The UK urges all sides to exercise maximum restraint and abide by the ceasefire, resume political negotiations, and establish a mechanism for the peaceful and managed transfer of power. Such a mechanism was outlined in the Gulf Cooperation Council initiative.

We urge President Saleh to act on his clear commitment to political transition, leading to early Presidential elections. The UK calls once again upon President Saleh to sign the GCC initiative at the earliest opportunity to stop further bloodshed.

The UK has since March strongly advised against all travel to Yemen and urged all British nationals to leave Yemen immediately. In the current volatile security climate, we once again urge all British nationals to leave immediately while commercial airlines are still operating.”