Canada updates Iran travel advisory to 'avoid non-essential travel'
TORONTO -- The Canadian government has updated its Iran travel advisory recommending against non-essential travel due to the “volatile security situation.”
Canada’s travel advice and advisories service, part of Transport Canada, upped Iran’s risk level Wednesday, warning of the “regional threat of terrorism and the risk of arbitrary detention.”
Tensions in the Middle East have escalated since Friday, when a U.S. airstrike in Iraq killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. Iran retaliated by firing missiles at bases in Iraq where U.S. personnel were stationed on Tuesday.
Canada’s latest travel warning included a specific caution for Canadian-Iranian dual citizens.
“Canadians, particularly dual Canadian-Iranian citizens, are at risk of being arbitrarily questioned, arrested and detained,” the government said.
“Iran does not recognize dual nationality and Canada will not be granted consular access to dual Canadian-Iranian citizens. Canadian-Iranian dual citizens should carefully consider the risks of travelling to Iran.”
The same advisory recommends avoiding all travel in parts of Iran bordering Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Avoid all travel to the province of Sistan-Baluchistan, which borders Pakistan, and to within 20 km of the border with Afghanistan, due to ethnic conflicts and the risk of kidnapping and terrorist attacks,” the message read.
“Avoid all travel to the area within 10 km of the border with Iraq, due to ongoing conflict in that country and cross-border ethnic conflicts.”
Canadian travellers were warned to avoid all travel to Iraq on January 3. This was extended to Syria and Afghanistan the next day, when the government updated a raft of travel advisories for Middle Eastern countries “due to an increased threat of attacks.”
“The security situation could worsen with little warning. Exercise caution,” the notice read.
According to government guidelines, there is an extreme risk to personal safety in these countries and people already there should consider leaving if it is safe to do so.
Countries where visitors are advised to “exercise a high degree of caution” were updated to include the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait.
This means there are “identifiable safety and security concerns or the safety and security situation could change with little notice,” according to the government of Canada. It recommends monitoring local media and following the instructions of local authorities.
The same warning is in place with added regional advisories to avoid all travel or non-essential travel in more dangerous parts of Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.
Travellers to Qatar are recommended to take normal security precautions, meaning there are no significant safety and security concerns.
The Canadian government has also suspended a NATO training mission in Iraq amid security concerns, defence minister Harjit Sajjan announced on Saturday.
“We are taking all necessary precautions for the safety and security of our civilian and military personnel,” Sajjan said in a statement.
Sajjan added that Canada “continues to monitor and evaluate the situation” and remains in talks with international partners.