Current HASSLE alert for Ethiopian embassy in Hargeisa!
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Nov 26, 2013 8:54 AM Last Post By: juho
Oct 3, 2013 4:56 AM
Current HASSLE alert for Ethiopian embassy in Hargeisa!The exclamation mark is probably justified in this case, as getting the Ethiopian visa this week turned out to be nightmare. Half a dozen travelers I met very recently told it's just a half-an-hour visit to the embassy where they write the visa in front of you (after you've given the correct answers, mainly about your arrival route into Somaliland.) But this week it turned out to be quite different.
There were packs of people apparently from Puntland obtaining their visas, and the rumor was that the Ethiopian consulate/embassy/mission in Garoowe had been closed down. I couldn't really confirm it but this is what some locals said. The well-hidden and unsignposted embassy entrance area was full of people and groups sitting in shade and wondering around for hours as very few people were allowed to go in, and very slowly. Some had arrived there to queue as early as 5am, even though the embassy opens at 8am! For me, on my second morning, the officers told me to come back the next morning at 7.
So I ended up visiting the place on three mornings before finally getting the visa, and this was largely due to the help from a super-friendly Somali who convinced the guards that I should get the visa soon that day (originally I was there several days before my intended departure into Ethiopia or the expiration of my Somaliland visa.)
This is a real issue for those in hurry, like the European guy I met there who just told me "good luck" in deep exasperation as he had been forced to visit there FOUR times (four mornings) before getting his visa. He also missed his flight back to Europe, so if you're planning a trip to Somaliland and need a new Ethiopian visa in Hargeisa, allow PLENTY of loose time for this, as I don't know how long the crowds and queues will remain, and the system surrounding these unsual conditions was not that well-organized or informed but that's applying to many other places, too.
The guards/security were not always that friendly or helpful (albeit most of them were). The biggest arse is the one guarding the car park. Overall it works like this:
You must leave your passport copy on the pile, this works as a queueing system. They may not even ask for it among the "hurry", meaning that you'd stand there for hours for nothing, unless someone told you to drop the copy.
Then they call your name, when it's finally your turn, and you join a group of about 10 others who are allowed inside the gate after heavy security checks to wait to step in the office.
Two people at a time are called in for the processing, and the most crucial requirement to remember at this point (or preferably even before making a visit to the embassy), I guess, is that they WON'T give you a visa if you have entered Somaliland from elsewhere than Ethiopia. I met a Bangladeshi businessman who had flown into Berbera from Dubai and thus was denied a visa in Hargeisa. Another Canadian had arrived from elsewhere, too, and was told to fly into Addis and get the visa at the airport.
Once you're this far, it's quite quick and straight-forward provided your papers are in order, you have two passport photos and 20 dollars cash (30 days single entry visitor.) The officials inside are very friendly if you are polite but the flow-of people in is very slow. Then they write the visa in front of you, and it's a nice quiet courtyard to find yourself in. There are even some habesha ladies serving coffee (but not for the visa applicants.)
Some travelers plan to get their visas on the same day they want to cross into Ethiopia, and some have also planes to catch. People who did this just 10 days ago in Hargeisa or so were incredibly lucky as now it would have resulted in "unexpected changes" in their travel plans.
Oct 3, 2013 9:44 PM
1This sounds to me like a relaxation of the usual tight restrictions on where you can get an Ethiopia visa. In most cases during the past several years, your choice has been either at home in your own country or on arrival only if flying into Addis. Lots of people have been refused visas at consulates in lots of capitals, and this is the only account I've seen of masses of people applying and succeeding outside their home country.
In other words, count your blessings and quit complaining.
Oct 4, 2013 12:30 PM
Oct 7, 2013 9:35 AM
3"...and this is the only account I've seen of masses of people applying and succeeding outside their home country."
blah.. aren't the masses of Somali/Puntland people I wrote about applying in Hargeisa indeed doing that inside their own country?
There weren't other whiteys/foreigners there than me, the Bangladeshi guy and the European guy who missed his flight (the Somali people told me about the Canadian I mentioned in the story.)
Many travelers know you can (still) get the Ethiopian visa quite painlessly in Cairo or Khartoum, for instance, but it's been trickier further afield. It was very straight-forward in Cairo, and I'm not Egyptian.
The point of this update was because this Hargeisa embassy has been known of fast delivery and they're not prepared for special circumstances like this (i.e. resulting in BS, worth reporting!)
Oct 16, 2013 10:33 PM
4So you didn't need to visit the Foreign Affairs dep. of the Somaliland government to get a stamped paper which you later take with you to Ethiopian Embassy?
As for the masses of somali from punt land applying in Hargeisa being in their own country... Well, that's the on going 22 year dispute between 3 administrations, right? For instance, up until 2008 the Hargeisa authorities were reluctant to receive any sort of aid aimed at internally displaced somalis from southern parts, as this would be like accepting that they never crossed an international border, which Somaliland govt insists they did! I heard some Scandinavian organisation who, ever so practical, came up with the Cross Border displaced as some sort of middle ground...
Oct 17, 2013 5:16 AM
yes, indeed the embassy didn't ask for or require the stamped letter from Foreign Affairs office in Hargeisa anymore. I met a few of these immigration people/officials in another context before applying for my Ethiopian visa, and they told me I'd still need the letter (which would cost me "about" 10 dollars.) The reason I still didn't get the stamped letter was that I met also four or five travelers in Hargeisa who all went to the embassy without any letter and got their visas with no questions asked.
So for the moment it could be said you don't need the stamped letter anymore.
Nov 1, 2013 1:55 AM
6This sound like the times I have been there.
People queue from early morning waiting to get inside the courtyard, and many have to come back several days in row to apply. Sometimes it has been little fist fighting and pushing outside due to the long queue.
All the times I have been there all western looking people, including Turkish and chinese got in the same day as they met. While most somali people just get rejected and have to come back another day.
Nov 15, 2013 4:55 AM
7I was getting Ethiopian visa in Hargeisa about 2 weeks ago.
You must come at 8am, certainly no later than 9am.
The immigration guy frowned at me and said: 'Tell all your foreign friends that this is the last visa I issue here for a non-resident.' He actually suggested that in order to get back to Harar I must fly to Addis and then take a bus. He gave me a 25-day visa instead of 3 months.
Maybe he was just having a bad day.
Nov 26, 2013 8:54 AM
it seems you entered Somaliland by road from Harar and Jijiga? If so, this is annoying news, the tightening/BS-escalation at the embassy. Well, good thing you got at least 25 days, it should be extendable in Addis. (As far as I know and reports go, they've never given longer visas than 1 month single in this Hargeisa embassy anyway.)
(5 star Hotel)
From US$126.65 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$8.30 per night
(0 star Hotel)
From US$8.00 per night