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Monday, 24 April 2017

Belgium reissues Egypt travel advice: Sharm not included in Sinai warning

Ahram Online , Friday 31 Mar 2017
Sinai
A tourist watches the sunrise and prays outside a church on the summit of Mount Moses, near the city of Saint Catherine, in the Sinai Peninsula, south of Egypt, December 9, 2015 (Reuters)
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The Belgian foreign ministry has reminded citizens that it does not advise against travel to the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh, although it urged vigilance when visiting Egypt.

Sinai is a "very instable zone," Foreign Minister Didier Reynders was quoted as saying in a statement by the ministry on Thursday, and reiterated warnings against travel to any part of northern or southern Sinai except "the hotel area around Sharm El-Sheikh."

The statement on Thursday comes two days after Israel issued a warning to its citizens advising against visiting any part of the Sinai Peninsula, saying there is a "very high concrete threat" of attacks.

The Belgian statement noted that the ministry is in contact with European partners who so far have not modified their advice “following recent recommendations from Israeli authorities to their nationals on the ground.”

"Travelling to other coastal areas of the Red Sea [outside Sinai] is not advised against, but in view of the serious terrorist threat throughout Egypt, increased vigilance is recommended, including in touristic zones," the Belgian statement read.

More detailed advice for travellers available on the Belgian foreign ministry’s website advises holidaymakers in Sharm not to take road trips to Taba or the monastery of Saint Catherine.

Travellers visiting the Red Sea resorts of Hurghada, Gouna or Marsa Alam – all on the Egyptian mainland – are advised to be vigilant and remain within touristic areas.

Northern Sinai is the epicentre of an Islamist militancy that Egyptian forces have been battling for the past few years.

The southern part of the peninsula, home to pristine beaches and the location of resort town Sharm El-Sheikh, has largely been spared the violence.

Russia suspended all direct flights to Egypt after a Russian passenger plane that had taken off from Sharm airport crashed into the Sinai desert in October 2015, killing all aboard. IS group-affiliated militants claimed responsibility for the incident.  

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