Australia issues travel ban for Egypt

Australia today urged its citizens not to travel to Egypt after the death toll in anti-government protests passed 100, boosting its security warning to the highest available level.
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Updated on Jan 30, 2011 08:49 AM IST
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AFP | By, Sydney

Australia on Sunday urged its citizens not to travel to Egypt after the death toll in anti-government protests passed 100, boosting its security warning to the highest available level.

The foreign office upgraded its travel warning from "reconsider your need to travel" to "do not travel", urging Australians against journeying there and advising those currently in the troubled country to get out if possible. Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said there were more than 800 Australians currently in Egypt but there were no reports they had been caught up in the violence, in which demonstrators threw petrol bombs and clashed with police.

"We advise you not to travel to Egypt due to ongoing civil unrest," the updated foreign office warning said. "If you are currently in Egypt, and concerned about the security situation, you should leave if it is safe to do so."

Egypt is among just 12 countries for which Australia has issued a travel ban. The others include Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and the African hotspots of Sudan, Guinea, Niger and Cote d'Ivoire.

At least 102 people have now died in protests against the government of President Hosni Mubarak since Tuesday, according to medics. Australia said the situation "remains unpredictable and may deteriorate quickly" and urged travellers to avoid all demonstrations "as they may turn violent".

"The army is on the streets of the main towns and there are widespread reports of arson and looting. The civil police are not present to maintain law and order," the foreign office said. It urged travellers to respect a 4:00 pm to 8:00 am curfew and to follow the advice of local authorities, warning that "further demonstrations are likely".

Mubarak appointed Egypt's military intelligence chief as his first ever vice president and named a new premier after tens of thousands poured into central Cairo on Saturday demanding that he step down. Protesters want not only Mubarak's departure but an end to endemic corruption and police brutality that have become systemic under the president's 30 year rule.

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