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
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

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs