Security and health

Security

Iraq is a very hostile and dangerous country. Private security guards are recommended and caution wherever you travel.

Baghdad International Airport (BIAP) and Erbil International Airport remain open. However, following an incident on 26 January 2015 in which shots were fired at a commercial flight on its approach into Baghdad, a number of carriers have suspended flights into BIAP until further notice. Some airlines have also suspended operations out of Erbil. Australians should confirm flight arrangements well in advance.

The security situation has deteriorated significantly. Armed opposition groups are now active in many parts of Iraq, particularly in the north, west and south of the country. There has also been fighting between armed opposition groups and Peshmerga forces in Iraqi Kurdistan. The US-led coalition, including Australia, has conducted targeted airstrikes against militants in Iraq.

Kidnapping

There remains a very high threat of kidnapping in Iraq. With the escalating conflict, there is an increased threat to foreigners, particularly to journalists and NGO workers. Western journalists have been kidnapped and killed. Australians, living and/or working in Iraq are at risk of being kidnapped. A significant number of foreign nationals have been kidnapped and murdered. For more information about kidnapping, visit the Kidnapping threat travel bulletin.

Reasonable security measures may reduce the threat of a physical attack against an office or accommodation, however, movement presents a particular difficulty in that the threat of Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and abduction is pervasive. There are huge liabilities with insurance to cover people and goods. Importantly and depending on the nature of the product or service, companies may be able to secure business in Iraq, with some natural erosion of margin, without the need to visit. For example, many Iraqi businesses operate from neighbouring Middle East markets and we can link into them.

Australian companies intending to operate in or visit Iraq, after consulting the travel advice, are strongly advised to seek adequate security arrangements. We encourage Australian companies to consult Austrade and reputable security companies regarding individual arrangements for accommodation and security. A list can be provided by emailing Lee Kennedy. We strongly recommend Australian business people visiting Iraq to register their presence with the Australian Embassy in Baghdad.

Health

It is advised to take the highest level of health insurance if travelling to the country. It is also advised to drink bottle water or sterilised tap water. Food safety is at customer choice, it is advised to eat at reputable restaurants and avoid side market stores.

It is strongly recommended that Australian travellers take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, before their departure. They should confirm that their insurance covers them for the whole time they will be away and check what circumstances and activities are / are not included in their policy.

It is also recommended that Australian travellers register your travel and contact details, before travelling, on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website, to provide greater protection in case of an emergency.

Security

Security is a major concern. Should companies and individuals decide to travel to Iraq. Austrade would encourage you to consult with the Australian Embassy in Baghdad. You must plan your movements and security requirements in advance. There are Australian security firms operating in the region that can provide assistance including bodyguards, hardened vehicles, due diligence on property and potential Iraqi business partners, and security for staff, goods and buildings.

Health

Australians in Iraq should be aware of the health risks posed by infectious diseases, such as typhoid and cholera, and the poor capacity of Iraqi hospitals to extend medical care.

For information on prevalent diseases and inoculations, travellers should consult their doctor, travel clinic or the World Health Organization (WHO) website. Further information can be found in the 'Travelling Well' brochure.

Travel and health insurance is strongly recommended for all overseas travel. Travellers should check with their insurer to make sure that their policy meets their needs. In particular, travellers should seek advice from their insurer on what type of circumstances and activities are the subject of exclusions in their policy.

Visitors must not assume medical insurance coverage is valid in Baghdad. We suggest visitors must verify the extent and validity of their medical insurance coverage while in Iraq prior to travel.

Medical care is available in Iraq through 240 public hospitals and 70 private hospitals but all services are not up to Australian standard due to lack of equipment. All fees must be paid in cash. Many would be extremely dangerous places to stay from a security perspective.

The best public hospitals in Baghdad are Al-Yermouk in Mansour, Al-Kindi on Palestine Street in 7th Nissan, and Al-Shaheed Adnan on Baba Muadham Street in Rusafa.

Private hospitals in Baghdad would provide better care and service than public hospitals, but they have no emergency rooms and charge a higher fee. The best private clinics in Baghdad are al-Hayat on 52 Street in Karada, al-Rahebat in Karada, and Karkh hospital for surgery.

The best-known and well-stocked pharmacies in Baghdad with English-speaking pharmacists are Hunnudi and Al-Shaiklee.