As most would already know, 2015 is the centenary of the legendary Anzac battle at Gallipoli. No less than 10,500 people will travel to Turkey to attend Anzac Day commemorative services in Gallipoli on 25 April.
It’s estimated that up to 40,000 people from both sides of the Tasman wanted to attend so a ballot was needed to manage numbers. After all, the site is a small constrained area surrounded by the sea and steep terrain. It can comfortably and safely hold only about a quarter of that number. The Australian, New Zealand and Turkish governments have agreed to allow 10,500 people at the commemorations.
A ballot was held last year to allocate places to 2,000 New Zealanders and 8,000 Australians. Why the difference? The allocation ratio is based on the relative number of casualties suffered by New Zealand and Australia during the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.
This coming event in Turkey must pose a challenge for the New Zealand government which issues travel warnings through its Safe Travel website. At the time of writing, some regions in Turkey are classified as “High Risk” and the remainder bears “Some Risk”, according to Safe Travel.
Areas of High Risk to your security are those close to the border with Syria, Iran and Iraq (including Hakkari, Sirnak and Siirt provinces in southeast Turkey) and in the province of Tunceli, due to the unpredictable security situation and the high threat from terrorism and kidnapping.
Elsewhere in Turkey caution is advised, as there is ‘Some Risk’ to your security due to the threat of terrorism and the potential for civil unrest.
The New Zealand government advises against all tourist and non-essential travel in regions deemed High Risk. This is only one step down from countries – and there are 45 of them – where the risk is deemed “Extreme” with the directive being “Do not travel”.
How does this affect you? If you travel to a country or region against the government’s advice, your travel insurance becomes null and void. But that could be the least of your worries. Conflict, warfare, ongoing civil unrest, kidnapping, armed banditry are rife in these areas and there will be limits on consular assistance that can be provided in the midst of this. The New Zealand government may not be able to assist you if you are detained, injured or otherwise prevented from leaving these areas.
Back to Gallipoli for the Anzac Day ceremonies. Heightened security by Turkish authorities will be in force but visitors should exercise a high degree of personal security. The government recommends those travelling to Turkey should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.
For more details, log on to www.safetravel.govt.nz