It doesn’t matter what their destination is, tourists are always slightly more at risk than locals themselves.
Usually, this is because of obvious issues such as failing to understand the culture or the language, meaning that it’s much more difficult to take charge of a situation if something gets out of hand.
However, when the travelling revolves around a country experiencing political turbulence, things suddenly take a turn for the even more dangerous.
Libya is the prime example and while it might not be one of the renowned holiday destinations, some people still travel there either on business or to experience some alternate culture.
While most travellers tend to stay on-site at their hotel, if you are part of a group who is opting to use the country’s road system then do so at your own risk.
The roads themselves are actually in decent condition, but it goes without saying that this isn’t the primary risk when getting behind the wheel in Libya.
Instead, one has to be wary of other reckless drivers and it goes without seeing that the normal precautions involving a seatbelt should be adhered to at all times.
The biggest risk in relation to road driving is violence though. With the country in something of a turbulent state, off-road driving is not advisable at any time. Ensure that you are always in an area with plenty of other cars and never be persuaded to take any short cut – the dangers are too severe.
Unfortunately, it’s not just the roads that can prove to be dangerous. There have been several occasions where airports have been closed and in the case of Benghazi, which happens to be one of the country’s main cities; this airport has been closed since May 2014 due to violent clashes between groups.
As well as having the potential to close at a whim, you must also be aware that flight schedules change regularly for all of the above reasons.
Therefore, always check to see if your flights are operating as expected.
The situation in Libya also means that crime levels are much higher than what you would expect in your home country. Unfortunately, we’re not talking about petty crime either, with robberies, car-jackings and muggings all being commonplace. Furthermore, these cases can occur anywhere due to the lack of police presence on the street.
Tourists should be aware that they are as much at risk as anyone else visiting Libya as well. For example, in the summer of 2014, a British diplomatic convoy was the subject of a car-jacking. Again, it all comes down to the appropriate planning and making sure that you do everything in your power to minimize the risks whilst travelling around the country.
On a similar note, terrorism is also prevalent in the country and visitors must be wary. Westerners are particularly at risk here and this isn’t necessarily due to the situation in Libya, but because of the influence of individuals from Iraq and Syria.
There have been numerous instances of terrorism over the past year and it should again go without saying that you need to be vigilant at all times. Additionally, try and make sure that you do not venture near the border areas as this is where attacks can be even more common.
Health & Immunizations
It goes without saying that all of the above issues are especially important when it comes to travelling to Libya, but one should also not forget the health issues.
Like all countries, there are certain diseases that affect Libya and anyone travelling there should have all of the necessary immunizations to protect his body. This should involve the following:
- You should make sure that all of your primary immunizations and boosters are up to date. Your doctor’s surgery will have your vaccination history, which you should consult to ensure the above is the case.
- You should also seek to obtain the Hepatitis A vaccine. This disease tends to be spread through contaminated food and water, or via person-to-person. As such, considering the fact that you are visiting a country where alternate hygiene practices will be adopted, this vaccination is highly recommended.
- If you are arriving from a country which has a risk of yellow fever transmission, you will have to obtain a yellow fever vaccination certificate before you are permitted fit to enter Libya.
As well as the above core information, some travelers may wish to obtain additional vaccines to further safeguard themselves. These include:
- Diphtheria: This is a disease which is spread via respiratory droplets. You will be most at risk if you are liaising with local people in poor conditions, but if most of your stay is going to be in clean conditions, or on-site at a hotel, you should not be affected.
- Hepatitis B: This is a condition which is spread through infected blood products; usually involving sexual intercourse or contaminated needles. Suffice to say, it’s advisable to avoid either of the above. This might mean carrying your own medical kit with sterile needles.
- Rabies: Again, if you are reserving most of your stay on-site at a hotel, this should not be a problem. Rabies is carried via the saliva of infected animals.
- Tetanus: This is spread through cuts and burns which come into contact with tetanus spores.
- Typhoid: This is spread similarly to Hepatitis A, with contaminated food and drink being the cause.
Emergency Contact Numbers
The international dialing code for Libya is +218. Emergency numbers for the country are:
- 193 – Police
- 190 – Fire
- 191 – Ambulance
In summary of the above, travel insurance is absolutely essential whilst traveling to Libya.
If you do require medical attention during your stay, most hospitals will demand to see some form of documentation proving that you have the means to fund your course of treatment.