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Avoid travel to Middle East, warns Goff

Avoid travel to Middle East, warns Goff

Foreign Minister Phil Goff says New Zealanders should avoid all travel to the Middle East now that conflict has broken out in Iraq.

“The government has already advised any New Zealanders in Iraq to leave, and we reiterate our advice that New Zealanders in countries bordering Iraq, or countries most likely to be affected if the crisis spreads, should depart immediately or move to a safer area," Mr Goff said.

"This applies particularly to New Zealanders in Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (West Bank and Gaza), where people should be aware of the potential risk by conventional, chemical, and biological weapons.

“New Zealanders living elsewhere in the region (this includes Qatar, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Lebanon, Yemen, the United Arab Emirates, Iran, and south-eastern regions of Turkey) should consider departing unless there are compelling reasons to stay.

“The ability of the New Zealand government to provide consular services or assistance will be limited, particularly in the event that commercial air services are disrupted or suspended.

“The government also reiterates its advice that New Zealanders should be aware of the heightened risk to westerners and western interests as a result of violent protests or acts of terrorism in reaction to the Iraq crisis.

"There is an increased risk in a number of western cities and capitals, as acknowledged by the United States government's decision to raise its security threat level to 'orange' – the second-highest level.

"New Zealand travellers should observe a high level of security awareness; take precautions for personal safety and avoid crowded or landmark places; choose destinations and activities carefully, and avoid places where westerners are known to gather.

"New Zealanders are urged to heed this advice and to closely monitor the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade's travel information website (www.mfat.govt.nz)," Mr Goff said.

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