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Surviving Civil Unrest In A Foreign Country
Surviving Civil Unrest In A Foreign Country

Most of us, when traveling, will enjoy the opportunity to see new sights, meet new people, and be introduced to a new culture.  However, it is not to be denied that some places are much more stable than others.  Most vacationers will avoid ‘hot spots’, but for various reason, some people will go to more precarious regions.  Sometimes these places off unique sights, or perhaps the traveler will only be passing through on their way to another destination.  Regardless of why you may be in an unstable location, there are ways of assuring that you will come out of the situation alive.

The Streets Erupt

While resentments can simmer for years in certain countries, there are also times when all hell breaks loose suddenly.  One minute, you were looking at unique jewelry in the bazaar, the next people are shouting, throwing stones, and attacking one another.  The first thing to do is to get off the street, out of sight.  Go into the nearest open shop, it is probable that the owner is just as frightened as you are and will probably welcome company.  If they deny you entrance, don’t argue, try another shop or try to return to your hotel.  Go in the opposite direction of the disturbance, and avoid making eye contact with anyone.  Once back at the hotel, try to find out what is going on and if it is possible, and safe, for you to leave.  You will probably have to wait until things settle down a bit, anyway, so pack your bags and be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

Stay Away From Everyone

Foreigners will be looked upon suspiciously by everyone involved in civil unrest, and the best thing to do is to remain inconspicuous.  Regardless of any feelings you may or may not have about the political situation that has given rise to the unrest, stay out of it.  People are not really thinking clearly during these times, and will react with violence at the slightest provocation.  Once the streets have quieted down a bit, and assuming a curfew has not been instituted, you can try to get to the airport or train station to leave.  Never act aggressively with anyone during a time like this, but be patient and understanding.

Your Embassy

If the situation has really turned nasty and you are unable to get out of the country within a reasonable time, try to get to your country’s embassy.  Your embassy will help to protect you from mobs and other serious situations and will also help to arrange transport out of the country.  Many time, home governments will arrange for emergency evacuation of their citizens, and being onsite, at the embassy, will make it much easier for you to take advantage of this.  Have your passport ready, and your bags packed, as your credentials will certainly be checked and you may have to leave without much warning.