Safety/Security

Driving on city streets is like a NASCAR race in slow speed. Hardly a car is unscarred, pedestrians dart through traffic in an odd dance of life and death.

Tourism is slowly recovering here, but the worldwide recession and some attacks in the region have taken a toll.

The State Department gives some background on recent security issues here:

SAFETY AND SECURITY: “In February 2009, a small bomb exploded in the main square in front of the Khan al Khalili bazaar, causing numerous casualties among foreign visitors, including the death of a young French tourist. A second explosive device was discovered and detonated by police.”

“In September 2008, 11 foreign tourists and eight Egyptians were kidnapped for ransom in the remote south-western desert region, close to the Sudanese border. Tourists should avoid travel to the border region.”

“The Egyptian-Gaza border has been closed on a permanent basis since June 2007, and the Egyptian Government only re-opens the border temporarily for short periods of time. These re-openings are announced on short notice. Travelers and especially humanitarian aid convoys who need to cross this border should contact the Egyptian Embassy in Washington and arrange for permission for their trip before travel. They also should approach the U.S. Embassy, Consular Section in Cairo upon arrival to execute an affidavit at fee of ($30.00) after they have read the Travel Warning for Israel, West Bank and Gaza, which advises against traveling to Gaza. The affidavit is an Egyptian requirement but is not a guarantee for crossing the border. Official U. S. government travel to the areas of Rafah and Al Arish in the North Sinai is restricted.”

“Egypt suffered a series of deadly terrorist attacks in or near tourist sites in 2005 and 2006 – often coinciding with major local holidays. Americans should be especially vigilant in crowded tourist areas, practice good personal security measures, and be alert to their surroundings. A heavy security presence is apparent to travelers throughout the country. U.S. citizens do not appear to have been targeted in any of these incidents.”

“Three explosions in the town of Dahab in April 2006 killed over 20 people and wounded at least 80 others, including five U.S. citizens. In July 2005, three explosions in Sharm el Sheikh killed over 60 people, including one American. Evidence of instability in the Sinai has also been reflected in random attacks on vehicles transiting the interior and two bomb attacks on Multinational Force Observers near the Rafah border crossing in August 2005 and April 2006. While the Egyptian Government took measures against the perpetrators of the 2005 and 2006 attacks, the bombings reflect a persistent, indigenous threat of terror activities in the Sinai.”

“U.S. citizens who plan to visit the Sinai in spite of the persistent threat of terrorist attacks should exercise great caution. Travelers are reminded to remain alert to their surroundings and are reminded that crowded tourist areas have been the target of terrorist activities. Travelers should use caution when visiting destination resorts and hotels without significant physical setback and security procedures. U.S. citizens are encouraged to visit the U.S. Embassy in Cairo web site for the most up-to-date security information.”

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