Saturday 10 December 2016

Belgium: Travel warnings for Irish tourists as terrorist attack deemed 'possible and likely'

#ParisAttacks

Published 18/11/2015 | 14:29

Brussels: Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs has changed its travel advice for Belgium. Photo/Composite: Deposit
Brussels: Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs has changed its travel advice for Belgium. Photo/Composite: Deposit
Belgium special force officers prepare to enter a house in the Rue Delaunoy in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean of Brussels, on November 16, 2015, several days after a series of deadly attacks on the French capital Paris. Photo: DIRK WAEM/AFP/Getty Images
Spain's Andres Iniesta (C) takes part in a training session on November 16, 2015 in Brussels, on the eve of the cancelled UEFA Euro 2016 friendly football match against Belgium. BRUNO FAHY/AFP/Getty Images

The Department of Foreign Affairs has increased its security status for Belgium in the wake of last weekend's Paris attacks.

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Irish citizens are now advised to "exercise caution" in the country.

"People travelling to Belgium are advised to be vigilant and to follow the advice of the Belgian authorities," the DFA now states in its travel advice.

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has also updated its travel advice, indicating that a terrorist attack is "possible and likely" in Belgium.

The changes come as Belgium increased its national threat level to 'serious' following the Paris attacks and a series of related raids in Brussels.

Belgian soldiers have been deployed to aid police, while security has been escalated along the border with France, as well as at airports, international train stations and key buildings such as EU institutions in Brussels.

An international football friendly between Belgium and Spain was suspended Tuesday night, though next week's Davis Cup tennis final - featuring Great Britain and Belgium - is set to go ahead as planned in Ghent.

The change in its travel advice means Belgium is now accorded the same security status as Russia, Iran, Turkey, Serbia and Albania by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The Belgian Embassy in Dublin declined to comment.

"These travel advisories are in line with our own advice to our nationals and our travel advice for Belgians travelling to France," José de Pierpont, Deputy spokesperson at the Belgian Foreign Ministry, told Independent.ie.

Roughly 7.5 million tourists visit Belgium every year, according to The World Bank.

Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs is advising Irish citizens to "exercise extreme caution" in France following this weekend's Paris attacks.

UPDATE: Since this story was published, the DFA has raised its security status for Belgium to 'exercise extreme caution'.

Contact 01 408-2000 if you are concerned about an Irish citizen in Belgium. You can also follow DFA travel updates on its Twitter feed at @dfatravel.

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