Maldives’ State of Emergency: What Singaporean Travellers Should Do

The Maldives have always been a top pick for honeymooners and paradise-seekers alike due to its picturesque beaches, luxurious resorts, and amazing fauna and flora. Situated in the Indian Ocean, the Maldives are made up of 26 atolls, with the atoll of Malé being its capital. Unfortunately, the recent political unrest and increasing violence in Malé have made this usually peaceful nation a concerning destination for travellers, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issuing travel warnings for Singaporeans. Because of the recent state of emergency declared in the Maldives, here are a few things you should do whether you are currently in the Maldives or have an upcoming trip.

The current situation in the Maldives

Due to an ongoing standoff between the Maldives’ current president, Abdulla Yameen, and its Supreme Court, several countries including the United States, Canada, China, India and Singapore have declared travel warnings to the nation. The political crisis started in early February when the Supreme Court ruled that several of Yameen’s opponents were unfairly convicted. Refusing to release the prisoners, President Yameen declared a State of Emergency amid growing local and international protests in Malé. However, it seems that outerlying and tourist-laden islands or Malé’s International airport have not been affected so far, so travel to and from major resorts is generally unaffected.

What to do if you are currently in the Maldives

If you are currently in the Maldives, there are some steps you can take to keep you and your family safe as well as minimize your financial burdens.

Stay away from crowded areas and stay vigilant

If you are currently in the Malé or its surrounding islands, it is advised to stay away from protests and large public gatherings. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity if you are going to heavily touristed areas, as there have been warnings regarding terrorist activity around high traffic areas such as shopping malls, plazas, government buildings and travel hubs. Malé is currently the most high risk area, but it can pay off to remain cautious on other islands as well.

Keep in contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, your Insurer and your Family

The Ministry of Foreign affairs has advised that you register with them so you can be contactable in the event of an emergency. Because Singapore does not have an embassy in the Maldives, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be your first contact point if you run into trouble. Additionally, you should call your insurer’s 24/7 emergency hotline to confirm the status of your coverage, and see if there are any options you have regarding altering your trip. Lastly, you should also strive to maintain contact with your family and friends back in Singapore for peace of mind and so they know where you are at all times.

Minimise your costs by taking advantage of your travel insurance

For those who are currently in Malé and want to cut their trip short, you may be able to do so without suffering large financial losses. If you purchased comprehensive travel insurance before the travel advisory was administered, you may be covered for curtailing your trip. Not only will this save you plane expenses, but you may also be refunded for your hotel and unused entertainment expenses. Before hastily buying your flight out, however, you should call your insurer and confirm your policy details to make sure you will be able to file a claim for your flight home. FWD and Etiqa and Aviva are great examples of insurers who are affordable and have great benefits for cancellation, delay and curtailment due to riots and political disturbances along with terrorism, disappearance, hijacking or passive war coverage.

 

If you did not purchase travel insurance, you will unfortunately have to bear the costs of cutting your trip short (and for your next trip, we highly recommend purchasing a policy). Additionally, if you bought your travel insurance policy after the travel advisory was issued, you may not be adequately covered as insurers will not cover known events or trips to countries against the advice of the government.

If you have an upcoming trip to the Maldives

Even if you had already booked a trip to Maldives before this series of events conspired, there are still ways you can prepare to keep your trip as risk-free as possible.

Make sure you have a solid travel insurance policy.

Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has is strongly advising you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy. However, purchasing a travel insurance policy now after you have already booked your trip won’t protect you at this stage, since insurers generally don’t cover events that were already known at the time of policy purchase. In this case, you should either forgo your trip entirely at a cost, or at least adhere to the other advices we discuss in this article. For example, you should most likely be fine if you stay within your resort. Chances are you’ll be okay if you are well-prepared and exercise caution.

If you have bought a travel insurance policy before the news broke out, your best bet is to utilise your insurance coverage to postpone or cancel your trip until the travel advisory is over. To see if you are eligible for reimbursement for these, you can check your policy wording under “trip postponement” or “cancellation” sections for keywords like “riots,” “civil unrest” and “trip advisory warnings”.

FWD's policy wording shows that it covers cancellations in the event of unforeseen civil unrest at your destination country

Keep track of the situation to see if it’s getting worse or better

Understanding how the situation is changing and what parts of the Maldives are being affected is key to knowing how you should navigate the area once you land. You should read about where most of the protests are taking place, potential areas for terrorist attacks and which areas are generally safe. If you can, you can consider changing your itinerary to focus on places that have not been affected by the political situation. In these cases, arming yourself with as much knowledge about the situation can help you reduce risks associated with your trip.

Make sure you are prepared for all risks before leaving

If your destination in the Maldives is a high-risk area, it may be beneficial to pack emergency supplies such as extra medicine, cash, a small first aid kit and anything else that you think may be necessary in the event of an emergency. Though you may not need to utilise these things, it can at least bring some peace of mind. Additionally, travel light—if you can substitute your laptop with your tablet, opt for that instead. Packing lightly can ease maneuverability in the event of an evacuation. Memorise some of the most important phone numbers in the event you don’t have internet access or can’t use your mobile phone.

 

 * Article contributed by ValuePenguin.

 

 

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6 Responses to “Maldives’ State of Emergency: What Singaporean Travellers Should Do”

  • Salute the judges!:

    The supreme court found that several political opponents were wrongly convicted.

    Those judges in that faraway land got steel balls.

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  • PAP has the mandate:

    Quote” The political crisis started in early February when the Supreme Court ruled that several of Yameen’s opponents were unfairly convicted. Refusing to release the prisoners, President Yameen declared a State of Emergency amid growing local and international protests in Malé. “UnQuote

    I wonder whether PAP has taught the current President of Maldives in jailing oppositions and refusing to release them. As PAP has a long standing friendship with the President of Maldives.

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  • JacobAbraham:

    I thought the global alarmists predicted Maldives would be under water by now!

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  • HarderTruths:

    Don’t expect the idiots at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the $G Embassy in Maldives to help you if you are in a fix. They will totally ignore you and protect their own arses.

    Remember the faithfully followed $G motto – ‘You die your business”.

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  • Ah Ha:

    Most of this piece is a joke! If you go to the Maldives to one of the resorts, you land on an island which is separate from the island where the capital, Male is and the vast majority of the country’s population is. You are taken by boat or float plane to the resort you have booked. You never have to see the drug-ridden capital of Male. The Maldives is no more dangerous now than it has been over the past five years. You can’t buy even a beer in Male and actually, the only place other than the resorts you can buy a drink is at the hotel located at the airport, none the less the locals in Male have found their recreation in drugs and there are signs of heavy consumption in the capitol. Safety now is no worse than before the political ho haha, I am not saying Male is a safe haven by any means but one-tenth of one percent goes to the Maldives to see Male, the resorts are a world in their own, well removed from the Capital in all aspects.

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  • patriot of Temesak:

    Singapore is a HEAVEN for an Ex-President who Raped his country & people of the Maldives…we serve Evil b’cos we have leaders just as Evil if NOT, WORSE!!!…countries that have Glass walls should not Throw STONES!!!

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