News / Middle East

Westerners in Yemen Take Extra Precautions

Travelers make their way to the departure lounge at Sana'a International Airport, Yemen, Aug. 6, 2013.
Travelers make their way to the departure lounge at Sana'a International Airport, Yemen, Aug. 6, 2013.
Pamela Dockins
A U.S. military plane carrying diplomats has left Yemen for a military base in Germany.

The State Department ordered the evacuation of non-essential staff because of what it calls the "extremely high" potential of a terrorist attack.

It has issued a travel warning for Yemen and urges U.S. citizens who decide not to leave to limit their movements.

Embassy and consulate closure statusEmbassy and consulate closure status
x
Embassy and consulate closure status
Embassy and consulate closure status
Britain has also evacuated all staff from its embassy in Yemen, and 19 U.S. embassies and consulates in the Middle East and Africa will stay closed for the rest of the week.

Meanwhile, Westerners living in Yemen are taking extra security precautions in the wake of U.S. and British warnings of possible terrorist threats and the closing of foreign embassies.  

From his office in Yemen, one official of a U.S.-based relief organization says he is trying not to attract attention and asks that neither he or his organization be identified.  He is one of dozens of Westerners who are cautiously staying behind after the U.S. and Britain hurriedly evacuated the majority of embassy staffers.

The official says he has no immediate plans to leave Yemen but is taking the warnings seriously.

"We just stay home, stay out of sight, away from public places, these kinds of things," said the official.

He says even if there had been no terrorist warning, his office would be closed for the next few days for the Muslim holiday Eid, marking the end of Ramadan.

He also says life on the streets in Sana'a appears normal, in spite of the warnings.

"We should not get too carried away.  Yes, the threat is there and I think there is a reason why the precautions are being taken or the alerts were being sent out, but I think we need to just step back a little and see the situation through," he said.

American photojournalist Alex Potter says she has noticed extra security checkpoints in Sana'a.  Still, she plans to stay for the time being.

"I feel very connected to the Yemeni people here and I feel very safe because I have a good network of people," said Potter.

Iona Craig is a British freelance journalist who has lived in Yemen for three years.

She says even before the U.S. and British terror warnings, she had begun keeping a low profile because of a string of kidnappings targeting Westerners.

"I have to be careful about the way I move around the city. You know, you don't have a routine in what you're doing and you try to blend in as much as possible by not wearing Western clothes and that kind of thing," said Craig.

Craig says there are signs of extra security in Sana'a.  She says she has seen surveillance planes flying over the city.

She also says the government has asked international relief groups to restrict events at night.  Meanwhile, Yemen has deployed hundreds of armored military vehicles to secure the presidential palace, vital buildings and Western embassies in the capital.

  • Police stop cars at a checkpoint near the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, August 6, 2013. The State Department on Tuesday ordered non-essential personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Yemen to leave the country.
  • A police armoured personnel carrier is stationed at a checkpoint on the road leading to the Sanaa International Airport August 6, 2013.
  • A Yemeni soldier inspects cars on a street leading to the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, August 4, 2013.
  • An image grab taken from an AFPTV video shows people heading to Sanaa International Airport as they prepare to leave Yemen on August 6, 2013.
  • A policeman checks a car at a checkpoint near the U.S. embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, August 6, 2013.

You May Like

Computer Crash Halts US Visa, Passport Operation

Problems with database have resulted in extensive backlog of applications, affected State Department's consular offices all over the world More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

World Bank: Boko Haram Stalls African Aid Projects

Islamist group’s terrorism sets back agriculture, health efforts in Cameroon, Chad and Nigeria More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid