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US State Dept Travel Advisory
Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government's ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff.
Updated: 1 day 18 hours ago
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Cote d'Ivoire. U.S. citizens who reside in or travel to Cote d'Ivoire should monitor conditions carefully, maintain situational awareness, and pay very close attention to their personal security. Although the security situation significantly improved in 2013, security conditions can change quickly and without warning. This Travel Warning updates U.S. citizens on the current security situation in Cote d'Ivoire, replacing the Travel Warning of November 16, 2012.
In April 2013, municipal and regional elections were held and were generally peaceful; however, there were limited and localized incidents of violence in the days following the election, as results were announced. Local security forces responded to these events, which were quickly resolved.
If you are planning travel to Cote d’Ivoire, particularly to destinations outside of Abidjan, you should review the most recent U.S. Embassy, or your host organization’s, security assessment for your travel destination. The U.S. Embassy does not restrict its personnel’s travel within Abidjan, Grand Bassam, Assine, Yamoussoukro and Bouake; however, travelers are advised to remain alert and exercise the same level of caution that they would in any major city. Mission staff must inform the Regional Security Office (RSO) of official travel to Abidjan’s Abobo and Yopougon neighborhoods and the Banco Forest. RSO notification is required when traveling to the outer regions of Abidjan, Grand Bassam, Assine, Yamoussoukro and Bouake, in order to assess current security situations.
Crimes, such as muggings, robbery, burglary, and carjacking, pose risks for foreign visitors in Abidjan and around the country. You should take precautions when stopped in heavy traffic or at road blocks due to the threat of assault and/or robbery, and avoid travel outside Abidjan after dark to minimize risk. Additionally, the generally poor road conditions are also a factor in driving after sunset. Local law enforcement authorities have limited capacity to respond to emergencies.
The U.S. Embassy instructs its staff to avoid large gatherings, crowds, demonstrations, and political events. Peaceful demonstrations and/or political events can turn confrontational and possibly become unsafe. You are therefore urged to avoid demonstrations and to exercise caution within the vicinity of demonstrations or political events.
U.S. citizens traveling and residing in Cote d’Ivoire are urged to enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the most up-to-date security information. By enrolling, you make it easier for the Embassy to contact you in case of emergency.
For further information, consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Cote d'Ivoire and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes or Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips.
The Embassy is located at 01 B.P. 1712 Abidjan 01, Cote d’Ivoire. If you have questions or concerns about safety or related issues, you are encouraged to contact the consular section at the Embassy by sending an email message to AbjAmcit@state.gov. You can reach the Embassy Consular’s section by telephone at 225-22-49-45-94 during business hours and at 225-22-49-44-50 for after-hours emergencies.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) and recommends that those who remain in CAR depart immediately by taking advantage of existing commercial flights. U.S. citizens who have decided to stay in CAR despite this warning should review their personal security situation and seriously consider departing. This replaces the Travel Warning of December 28, 2012, to reflect the lack of security, increased risks in CAR, and the Government of France’s role as the U.S. government’s Protecting Power in CAR while U.S. Embassy operations and services are temporarily suspended.
U.S. Embassy Bangui suspended operations in December 2012, and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR. The Government of the Republic of France, acting through its Embassy in Bangui, serves as Protecting Power for U.S. interests in CAR. The range of consular services the French Republic provides to U.S. citizens is extremely limited, and those services may require significantly more processing time than at U.S. embassies or consulates outside of CAR. U.S. citizens in CAR who seek consular services should contact the Embassy of the Republic of France in Bangui by calling 236 21 61 30 00.
U.S. citizens in CAR who are in need of emergency assistance and are unable to reach the Embassy of the Republic of France, or must make contact outside business hours, should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon; Telephone: 237 2220-1500 ext. 4341/4023 (Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. local time)
Emergencies: 237 2220-1500, ext. 4531 or 237 2222-25-89
If you seek information about U.S. citizen services in CAR from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services in Washington, please e-mail: CARemergencyUSC@state.gov.
If you are going to live in or travel to the Central African Republic despite this Travel Warning, please take the time to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling in STEP will also make it easier for us to contact you in the event of an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a currentphone number and e-mail address in order to receive emergency messages.
For information on general crime and security issues, you should also consult the Department of State Country Specific Information for the Central African Republic; as well as The Worldwide Caution; located on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook. You candownload our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and the Google Play store, to have travel information at your fingertips. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or from other countries on a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.
The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea and strongly recommends U.S. citizens defer all travel to the country. This replaces the Travel Warning for Eritrea of November 29, 2012, to update information on additional travel restrictions, and to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Eritrea.
The Eritrean government continues to restrict the travel of all foreign nationals. These restrictions require all visitors and residents, including U.S. diplomats, to apply 10 days in advance for permission to travel outside Asmara's city limits. Permission is rarely granted. As a result, the U.S. Embassy is extremely limited in its ability to provide emergency consular assistance outside of Asmara.
Travelers should also be aware that travel permits are valid for the approved final destination only, and do not allow for additional stops along the way to or in the proximity of the approved destination. In addition, travel to religious institutions, for example, monasteries, requires separate travel permission even when such facilities are located in or near approved destination cities. Foreign travelers not adhering strictly to the terms of travel permits have reported being detained by law enforcement authorities, and their drivers have been jailed.
A number of U.S.-Eritrean dual citizens have been arrested and some are currently being held without apparent cause. Once arrested, detainees may be held for extended periods without being told the reason for their incarceration. Conditions are harsh – those incarcerated may be held in very small quarters without access to restrooms, bedding, food, or clean water. The Eritrean government does not inform the U.S. Embassy when U.S. citizens, including those who are not dual nationals, have been arrested or detained. Should the U.S. Embassy learn of the arrest of a U.S. citizen, the Eritrean government rarely allows consular access, regardless of the reason the U.S. citizen is being held.
Starting in 2012, the Government of Eritrea began arming its citizens with automatic rifles, forming citizen militias. These armed civilian militias patrol at night and are ordered to check individuals for documentation. You should carry appropriate documentation with you at all times. Those not carrying documentation of their identity and military status may be subject to round-ups, sometimes by armed persons. U.S. citizens should use extreme caution when encountering armed persons.
In observance of the Independence Day holiday of May 24, travelers will notice an increase in the presence of military and police personnel throughout Asmara during the months of April and May. It is during these two months that military and police personnel most frequently check documentation.
The Eritrean government-controlled media frequently broadcasts anti-U.S. rhetoric, and has done so repeatedly since December 2009, when the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) first imposed sanctions on Eritrea. Anti-U.S. messages scripted by the current regime, which often appear as cover stories in the sole English-language state-run newspaper in Eritrea, have grown even stronger since UNSC sanctions were strengthened in December 2011.
Although there have been no specific incidents of violence targeting U.S. citizens, U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution, stay current with media coverage of local events, and be aware of their surroundings at all times.
U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid travel near the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and the Southern Red Sea region. U.S. citizens should be aware of the presence of large numbers of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops along the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and of political and military tensions between the two countries. In March 2012, Ethiopian troops attacked three locations approximately 10 miles inside Eritrean territory. In January 2012, a group of tourists was attacked in Ethiopia not far from the Eritrean-Ethiopian border. Five tourists were killed and four others kidnapped. In May 2010, 13 people were injured when a bomb exploded on a bus just over the border in Ethiopia. In April 2010, a bomb near the border in Ethiopia killed five people and injured 20. In January and February 2010, skirmishes between Eritrean and Ethiopian troops resulted in military fatalities. Although Eritrean forces have withdrawn from disputed territory at the border with Djibouti, tensions in this area remain high.
U.S. citizens on ships and sailing vessels are strongly advised not to sail off the Eritrean coast or to attempt to dock in Eritrean ports, refuel in Eritrea, or travel through Eritrean waters. U.S. citizens are also urged to avoid remote Eritrean islands, some of which may be used for Eritrean military training and could therefore be unsafe. The Eritrean government does not issue visas to persons arriving by marine vessel.
Piracy on the Red Sea continues to occur. Recreational vessels are strongly encouraged to avoid the region entirely, and commercial vessels without explicit agreements with Eritrean authorities are urged to avoid Eritrean territorial waters. There have been incidents involving the seizure of ships attempting to refuel at the Port of Massawa by the Eritrean government as late as the spring of 2012. These seizures have resulted in lengthy detentions of international crew members, including U.S. nationals. Though the incidents were ultimately resolved and both ships and crew released, the concern for future seizures is ongoing. U.S. citizens are cautioned that commercial/tourist ships are not allowed to dock at Eritrean ports, even to refuel.
If transit around the Horn of Africa is necessary, vessels should travel in convoys, maintain good communications contact at all times, and follow the guidance provided by the Maritime Security Center – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA). U.S. citizens should consult the Maritime Administration's Horn of Africa Piracy page for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a serious problem throughout the country. There are reports of accidents and incidents in which vehicles or people occasionally detonate mines. Many detonations occurred on relatively well-traveled roads in and near the Gash Barka region of western Eritrea; subsequent investigations indicated that several mines were recently laid. In September 2011, press reported that a vehicle in Senafe, 60 miles south of Asmara, ran over a landmine; five people were killed and another 34 injured in the incident. Vast areas of the country still have not been certified free of mines and unexploded ordnance following the 30-year war for independence and the subsequent 1998-2000 conflict with Ethiopia. You should avoid walking alone and hiking in riverbeds or areas that local government officials have not certified as safe.
U.S. citizens choosing to travel to Eritrea despite this Travel Warning must obtain an Eritrean visa before their arrival. Persons arriving in Eritrea without a visa are generally refused admission and returned on the next flight back to their point of origin. However, the Embassy is aware of persons being jailed for several months after arriving without a visa. The Embassy urges U.S.-Eritrean dual citizens to obtain an Eritrean visa in their U.S. passport before travelling to Eritrea and to enter the country as U.S. citizens. U.S.-Eritrean dual citizens who enter Eritrea with an Eritrean ID card may find it difficult to obtain the required visa to legally exit the country. The Embassy is aware of numerous cases in which U.S.-Eritrean dual citizens have not been permitted to leave the country. The Embassy cautions travelers not to stay beyond the period of time granted at the time of admission by Eritrean Immigration.
Crime in Asmara has increased as a result of deteriorating economic conditions accompanied by persistent food, water, and fuel shortages, and rapid price inflation. The combination of forced, open-ended, low-paying, national service for many Eritreans and severe unemployment leads some Eritreans to commit crime to support their families. Eritrean authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate crime or prosecute perpetrators.
Modern telecommunications options are limited in Eritrea and cannot be counted upon in an emergency. International cell phone service plans do not work on Eritrean networks. Local cellular phone service is tightly controlled by the Eritrean government and difficult to obtain. When available, international cell phone calls are extremely expensive and only available using pre-paid minutes. Internet cafés are rare and hours are limited. Internet service is limited and slow, and generally does not support Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype.
The U.S. Embassy in Asmara strongly encourages U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Eritrea despite this Travel Warning to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so you can receive the most up-to-date security information. Please keep all of your information in STEP current. It is important when enrolling or updating information to include multiple phone numbers and email addresses to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency.
The consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Asmara, though closed for most visa services, is open for all U.S. citizen services between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, or by appointment. The U.S. Embassy in Asmara is located at 179 Alaa Street, P.O. Box 211, Asmara; telephone 291-1-12-00-04, available 24 hours in case of emergency; fax 291-1-124-255 and 291-1-127-584.
Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). You can also stay up-to-date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Google play store, to have travel information at your fingertips..
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Libya and strongly advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli and all travel to Benghazi, Bani Walid, and southern Libya, including border areas and the regions of Sabha and Kufra. Because of ongoing instability and violence, the Department’s ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in these regions of Libya is extremely limited. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated March 11, 2013.
In early May, the security situation in Tripoli deteriorated when armed groups seized Libyan government buildings in a dispute over a law regarding officials of the former regime. In response, on May 8, the Department of State ordered the departure of a number of U.S. government personnel in Tripoli.
The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable. Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country. U.S. citizens should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens traveling to, or remaining in, Libya should use caution and limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, and maintain security awareness at all times.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Libya enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The Embassy’s website includes consular information and the most recent messages for U.S. citizens in Libya. U.S. citizens in need of emergency assistance should call 091-379-4560 within Libya or 218-91-379-4560 if dialing from outside of Libya.
For information on “What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis,” please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Emergencies and Crisis link. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
For further information, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Libya. Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and Google play, to have travel information at your fingertips.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) (DRC). The Department strongly recommends you avoid all travel to the city of Goma and the province of North Kivu, and all but essential travel to the province of South Kivu and the Ituri region in the province of Oriental. Because of ongoing instability and violence, the Department's ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in these regions of the DRC is extremely limited. This replaces the Travel Warning dated November 21, 2012, to update information on security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Armed groups, bandits, and elements of the Congolese military remain security concerns in eastern and northeastern DRC. These armed groups, primarily located in the North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale provinces, as well as the northern part of Katanga province, and the eastern part of Maniema province, are known to pillage, steal vehicles, kidnap, rape, kill, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians are indiscriminately targeted. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is present near the border with Uganda, Central African Republic, and the Republic of South Sudan. The UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) continues to assist the Congolese government with the protection of civilians and efforts to combat armed groups.
North and South Kivu have been the scene of violent clashes that have resulted in significant displacements of civilians since September 2010. In April 2012, members of a rebel group that previously had been integrated into the Congolese military mutinied and heavy fighting has been reported in Massisi and Ruthshuru territories as well as in Virunga National Park. In November 2012, members of this group captured several towns north of Goma and Goma itself, the provincial capital of North Kivu province. Although the rebels withdrew from Goma in December 2012, the security and political situation in Goma and North Kivu remains tense and fragile. In March 2013, there was fighting in North Kivu (although not in the city of Goma proper) between various factions of the rebel group that had previously captured Goma. As a result, hundreds of people have been killed or injured, and tens of thousands more have been internally displaced. Moreover, violence amongst foreign and Congolese rebel groups present in the northern part of North Kivu and former Rwandan militants in the southern part of the province and throughout South Kivu pose a serious and significant risk to travelers in the region. This fighting underscores the persistent insecurity arising from activities of rebel and other armed groups operating in the Kivus, which contribute to the overall high risks and dangers associated with travel to eastern Congo. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa currently does not allow travel by official personnel to North Kivu. Travel to South Kivu and the Ituri region of Oriental province by Embassy personnel is permitted only under exceptional circumstances.
Travelers are frequently detained and questioned by poorly disciplined security forces at numerous official and unofficial roadblocks and border crossings throughout the country. Requests for bribes in such instances are extremely common, and security forces have occasionally injured or killed people who refused to pay. In the past year, several U.S. citizens were illegally detained by government forces, or were robbed of their valuables while being searched. Very poor infrastructure (road and air) makes the provision of consular services difficult outside of Kinshasa.
The Embassy has received many reports of robberies and banditry in Goma after dark. In most such cases, the robbers have stopped cars and stolen money and other valuables. The poor condition of the roads, along with widespread new road construction around the city, contribute to the banditry problem, as traffic is either bottlenecked on the main road, or forced to travel on secondary roads with even worse conditions. The Department strongly urges travelers who must go to Goma not to travel after dark.
Kinshasa has a critical crime threat level, and U.S. citizens continue to be the victims of serious crimes, including armed robbery by groups posing as law enforcement officials in both urban and rural areas, especially after nightfall. Avoid walking alone and displaying cash and other personal property of value. Avoid taking photos in public, especially of government buildings and the airport (which are viewed as places of national security), police stations, the presidential palace, border crossings, and along the river, since doing so may lead to arrest.
Lock vehicle doors and keep windows closed when driving. You should not stop at the scene of an accident or at intersections where people have gathered, as mobs can develop quickly. In areas where the roads are in poor condition and the speed limit is minimal, be wary of gangs of street children who may approach your car, open your door, and steal your belongings. Roadblocks are often found throughout the country, especially near government buildings and installations in Kinshasa, and should be avoided when possible. If stopped at a roadblock, keep doors locked and crack the window in order to communicate.
Official Congolese motorcades pose hazards to motorists and pedestrians. Drivers should pull over to the far side of the road when sirens or security forces announce their presence. You should not take photographs of motorcades. Proceed only when security forces permit you to do so.
There is no reliable public transportation system in the DRC. Overcrowded vans and taxis, which often do not meet western safety standards, serve as public transportation in Kinshasa. Few independent taxis are available, operating largely out of the big hotels, and most do not meet safety standards. You should avoid all travel by public transportation, and hire private transport from a reliable source.
The DRC has few viable roads or railways, but does have several major waterways. Boat transport is widely used; however, the vessels are often overloaded and/or badly maintained, and accidents are commonplace and often fatal.
Public health concerns pose a hazard to U.S. citizen travelers due to outbreaks of deadly viruses and other diseases, which can occur without warning and often without swift reporting by local health authorities. Information on personal protection for international travelers, including children, can be found on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website. Travelers are required to carry evidence of yellow fever vaccination in order to enter the DRC. Health officials at entry points, such as the airport in Kinshasa, will check for proof of vaccination. If you do not have evidence of a yellow fever vaccination, you may be denied entry or required to pay a fine. Malaria is common throughout the DRC and prophylaxis is recommended. Please consult with your healthcare provider for more information and advice on prophylaxis.
Due to the recent outbreak of Wild Polio Virus and measles in the DRC, you should update your polio and measles vaccinations, if necessary, and refer to the CDC for additional guidance. Due to the high levels of air borne irritants (i.e., dust, burning trash, debris, etc.) individuals with respiratory illnesses should carry all their necessary medications and equipment with adapters.
There is a high risk of traveler's diarrhea and cholera throughout the country. This can be greatly reduced by using good judgment when choosing what food to eat and water to drink. When in restaurants, you should ask for bottled water and avoid ice.
Due to the immense size of the country, the density of the Congo River rainforest, the terrible state of the roads, and the poor security situation, the only way to get around the country quickly is by plane. Domestic air travel on Congolese or other local airlines in the DRC is not recommended. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has assessed the government of the DRC as not being compliant with international standards for aviation safety oversight. There have been several recent incidents causing deaths and injuries, including one on August 25, 2010, that killed all but one passenger. In April 2011, a United Nations operated flight crashed while landing in Kinshasa, killing 32 passengers and crew. In July 2011, a Boeing 737 crashed in Kisangani, killing more than 70 passengers. In March 2013, a domestic airline flight crashed in Goma, killing five crewmembers and passengers. Crashes of private aircraft are even more common. The U.S. Embassy has prohibited official travel by U.S. government employees and certain contractors on most airlines flying domestic routes in the DRC due to safety and maintenance concerns. International flights on foreign-owned-and-operated carriers are not affected by this prohibition.
You should avoid all public demonstrations and areas where crowds have gathered because even peaceful events can become violent, and even deadly. You should exercise caution at all times, and closely monitor local and international news from reliable sources. Radio Okapi broadcasts in French on 103.5 FM at 0700, 0800, 1200, and 1800 hours, and provides updates throughout the day. English-language news can be found on BBC at 92.6 FM. In emergencies, the Belgian Embassy operates a French-language radio broadcast system at FM 98.8. Changes in security conditions may occasionally restrict the travel of U.S. Mission personnel.
The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa strongly encourages U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in the DRC despite this Travel Warning to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so you can receive the most up-to-date security information. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP current. It is important to include your current phone number and email address where you can be reached in case of an emergency.
The U.S. Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs; the Consular Section entrance is located on Avenue Dumi, opposite Saint Anne's Church. The Embassy's telephone number, including for after-hours emergencies, is 243-81-556-0151; callers within the DRC should dial 081-556-0151. All telephone lines in the DRC, cellular as well as landlines, are unreliable. Click here to visit the Embassy website.
For further information, consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Democratic Republic of the Congo and the current Worldwide Caution, available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, a regular toll line at-1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains thecurrent Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Google Play store to have travel information at your fingertips.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Burundi. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Burundi dated November 8, 2012, to reiterate existing security concerns and to note that security restrictions on travel for Embassy personnel remain in place.
Because Burundi participates in peacekeeping operations in Somalia, the terrorist organization al-Shabaab, based in Somalia, has threatened to conduct terror attacks in Burundi. It may also target U.S. interests in Burundi.
The Burundian civil war that lasted from 1993 to 2006 often involved non-governmental and non-combatant targets. In 2009, the government and the last rebel group signed their final cease-fire agreement in which the rebel group agreed to demobilize and register as a political party. Burundi held general elections in 2010 which were generally considered credible. However, political tensions ran high and there were incidents of violence during the campaign period. Low-level political violence persists; the areas of Bujumbura Rural, Bujumbura Mairie (particularly Kanyosha, Kinama and Kamenge, Makamba, Rumonge, and the area neighboring the Kibira forest) are of particular concern.
There are no known armed militia groups operating in Burundi; however, weapons are easy to obtain and some ex-combatants have turned to crime or political violence. Crime, often committed by groups of armed bandits or street children, poses the highest risk for foreign visitors to both Bujumbura and Burundi in general. Exchanges of gunfire and grenade attacks are common even in densely populated urban areas. Stay indoors, in a ground floor interior room, if gunfire or explosions occur nearby. Common crimes include muggings, burglaries, and robberies. Visitors should keep vehicle doors locked and windows up, and be careful when stopped in heavy traffic, due to the threat of robbery and theft. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of armed criminals ambushing vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura. The U.S. Embassy prohibits U.S. government personnel from walking on the streets after dark and from using local public transportation at any time. Due to a lack of resources, local authorities in any part of Burundi are often unable to provide timely assistance during an emergency.
U.S. citizens should be aware that even gatherings and demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn violent. U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Burundi are reminded to maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind. Even seemingly peaceful sporting events can become politicized and turn violent. U.S. citizens should routinely monitor local media sources and the Internet for reports of demonstrations and unrest.
The U.S. Embassy continues to caution U.S. citizens that travel outside the capital, Bujumbura, presents significant risks, especially after nightfall. The U.S. Embassy restricts the travel of its personnel in Burundi. Within 30 km/18 miles of the city, Embassy employees may travel in single vehicles, but are advised to check in and out with the Embassy. The Embassy's Regional Security Officer (RSO) must pre-approve all Embassy personnel travel outside this approximately 30-km radius of Bujumbura, and employees must travel via an approved itinerary in two-vehicle convoys equipped with satellite phones, GPS, and emergency equipment. All employee movement outside the city after dark is forbidden; the Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens not travel on national highways from dusk to dawn. U.S. citizens are also encouraged to avoid traveling within the city of Bujumbura after midnight.
Corruption is endemic in Burundi and contributes to an environment where the rule of law is not respected. Government officials may ask for bribes for providing routine services. Travelers are frequently stopped, questioned, and asked for bribes by security forces at numerous official and unofficial road blocks throughout the country. Likewise, criminals who have paid off local officials may operate without fear of prosecution.
U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Burundi despite this Travel Warning are urged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura for information on the latest Embassy security guidance, and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so they can receive the most up-to-date security information. Please keep all of your information in STEP current. It is important when enrolling or updating information to include multiple phone numbers and email addresses to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency.
U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura at Avenue des Etats-Unis. The hours for non-emergency American Citizens Services are 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Fridays. The Embassy Consular section can be reached by telephone, including for after-hours emergencies, at 257-22-20-7000, or by fax at 257-22-22-2926. Security information for U.S. citizens in Burundi is posted on Embassy Bujumbura's website.
For further information, consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Burundi and the current Worldwide Caution, available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, a regular toll line at-1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us onTwitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Google Play store to have travel information at your fingertips.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Sudan, urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Darfur region of Sudan, the Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, and advises you to consider carefully the risks of travel in other areas of Sudan. On September 15, 2012, the Department of State ordered the departure of all dependents of U.S. direct hire personnel and all non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Sudan, following the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum. On March 13, 2013, after six months without security incidents or demonstrations targeted at U.S. citizens or the United States government in Sudan, the State Department lifted its ordered departure status. All U.S. government personnel and all adult family members employed by the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum are authorized to return to Khartoum. This replaces the Travel Warning issued on March 13, 2013, and includes updated information about the risk of terrorist activity and travel restrictions for U.S. government personnel.
While the Government of Sudan has taken some steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, elements of these groups remain in Sudan and have threatened to attack Western interests. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, or kidnappings. You should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places, including tourist sites and locations where westerners are known to congregate, as well as commercial operations associated with U.S. or Western interests. The terrorist threat level throughout Sudan, and particularly in the Darfur region, remains critical, and the U.S. Embassy has implemented enhanced security measures to protect U.S. government personnel assigned to Sudan. These measures include requiring U.S. government personnel to travel in armored government vehicles for official business, and to obtain advance permission for travel outside of Khartoum. In addition, family members of U.S. personnel under age 21 are not allowed to reside in Sudan.
If you are traveling or residing anywhere in Sudan, you should exercise caution at all times and closely monitor local and international news from reliable sources. Violent flare-ups break out between various armed militia groups and Sudanese military forces with little notice, particularly in the Darfur region, along the border between Chad and Sudan, and in areas on the border with South Sudan. Near the border with Ethiopia and Eritrea, landmines and unmarked minefields are a critical threat. There are occasional clashes with local tribes, particularly those known for weapons and human trafficking, along with the threats of Ethiopian gangs crossing the border to rob people along the highway. Hostilities between Sudanese forces and armed opposition groups in Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states, including the disputed area of Abyei, present real and immediate dangers to travelers. In addition, U.S. citizens found in these areas without permission from the Government of Sudan face the possibility of detention by government security forces. You should avoid all public demonstrations and political rallies, as even demonstrations that seem peaceful can turn confrontational and become violent with little or no notice. Demonstrations occur periodically, mostly in Khartoum. You should keep a low profile, vary your times and routes of travel, exercise care while driving, and ensure that your passport and Sudanese visa are always valid and up to date.
The threat of violent crime, including kidnappings, armed robberies, home invasions, and carjackings, is particularly high in the Darfur region of Sudan, as the Government of Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime in that region. In addition, Janjaweed militia and heavily armed Darfuri rebel groups are known to have carried out criminal attacks against foreigners. In May 2010, a U.S. citizen working for a humanitarian relief organization was kidnapped in Darfur and held for more than three months before being released. More recently, a number of other foreign nationals have been abducted and held for ransom by criminal groups in Darfur. Due to the fluid security situation, U.S. government personnel are not authorized to travel to Darfur except to certain areas deemed acceptable at the time of travel and with appropriate security precautions.
The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has advised that elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of maritime attacks being conducted by extremists to vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions.
MARAD recommends vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speeds should be especially vigilant, and report suspicious activity. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the area are advised to report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to COMUSNAVCENT battlewatch captain at phone number 973-1785-3879. All suspicious activities and events are also to be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at the following toll free telephone: 1-800-424-8802, direct telephone 202-267-2675, or TDD 202-267-4477. The complete advisory is available on the MARAD website at www.MARAD.DOT.gov.
We recommend that all U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Sudan maintain safehaven plans, as well as plans to evacuate the country on short notice should the situation warrant. If the security situation worsens or if specific threats affecting the safety of U.S. citizens are discovered, we will make this information available through the U.S. Embassy website and by messages communicated through our warden system. Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens in Sudan can be found online at: http://sudan.usembassy.gov/warden_messages.html.
The ability of the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum to provide services to U.S. citizens in emergency situations outside of the Khartoum area is limited, and dependent on security conditions. The ability to provide assistance is particularly limited in southern Sudan and in Darfur.
You can stay in touch and get updates by checking the U.S. Embassy website. U.S. citizens can also obtain global updates from the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where you can find the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States, or for callers from other countries, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and the Android market to have travel information at your fingertips.
If you are going to live in or travel to Sudan despite this Travel Warning, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling in STEP will also make it easier for us to contact you in the event of an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address. U.S. citizens in Sudan without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy in Khartoum by completing and submitting a registration form.
The U.S. Embassy is located at U.S. Embassy Road, Kilo 10, Soba, Khartoum. U.S. citizens may obtain the latest security information by contacting the Embassy consular section at ACSKhartoum@state.gov, or by visiting the U.S. Embassy website. In the event of an emergency involving a U.S. citizen, contact the Embassy by calling 0187-022-000 (from inside Sudan) or 249 187-022-000 (from outside Sudan) and ask to be connected to the Embassy duty officer.
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Colombia.
Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies, and volunteer work. Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Bogota and Cartagena, but violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural areas and parts of large cities. This replaces the Travel Warning for Colombia issued October 3, 2012, to update information on the security situation and terrorist activity.
There have been no reports of U.S. citizens being targeted specifically because of their nationality. While the Embassy possesses no information concerning specific and credible threats against U.S. citizens in Colombia, we strongly encourage you to exercise caution and remain vigilant as terrorist and criminal activities remain a threat throughout the country. Two people were killed and approximately 60 injured by a car bomb during an assassination attempt on the life of a former Interior Minister on May 15, 2012. Explosions occur throughout Colombia on a regular basis, including some in Bogota itself. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can still be extremely dangerous due to the presence of terrorists and narco-traffickers, including armed criminal gangs (referred to as “BACRIMs” in Spanish), that are active throughout much of the country. Violence associated with the BACRIM has spilled over into many of Colombia’s major cities. These groups are heavily involved in the drug trade.
Although the incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has diminished significantly from its peak in 2000, it remains a threat, and is of particular concern in rural areas. Terrorist groups and other criminal organizations continue to kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom or as political bargaining chips. No one is immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors. The U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, but it is U.S. policy not to make concessions to or strike deals with kidnappers. Consequently, the U.S. government's ability to assist kidnapping victims is limited.
U.S. government officials in Colombia regularly travel to the major cities of Colombia without incident. However, U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia normally are only permitted to travel to major cities by air. They may not use inter- or intra-city bus transportation, or travel by road outside urban areas at night. U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia must file a request to travel to any area in Colombia outside of two general areas. The first area is outlined by the cities of Bogota, Anolaima, Cogua, and Sesquile. The second area is on the Highway 90 corridor that connects Cartagena, Barranquilla, and Santa Marta. All U.S. citizens in Colombia are urged to follow these precautions and exercise extra caution outside of the aforementioned areas.
For more detailed information on staying safe in Colombia, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information for Colombia. For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ internet web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through the iTunes store and the Google Play store, to have travel information at your fingertips.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 001-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). U.S. citizens living or traveling in Colombia are encouraged to enroll with the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to obtain updated information on travel and security within Colombia. For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Colombia, please contact the U.S. Embassy or the closest U.S. Consulate as listed below.
The U.S. Embassy is located at Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50 Bogota, D.C., Colombia. Mailing address: Carrera 45 No. 24B-27 Bogota, D.C., Colombia. In case of a serious emergency that jeopardizes the health or safety of a U.S. citizen in Colombia, please call the Embassy at (571) 275-2000; Embassy fax: (571) 275-4501; Consular Section phone: (571) 275-4900. The Embassy's American Citizens Services office provides routine information at http://bogota.usembassy.gov. For questions not answered there, inquiries may be sent by email to ACSBogota@state.gov.
The U.S. Consular Agency in Barranquilla, which accepts passport applications and performs notarial services, is located at Calle 77B, No. 57-141, Piso 5, Centro Empresarial Las Américas, Barranquilla, Atlántico, Colombia; telephone (575) 369-0419; fax (57-5) 353-5216. In case of an emergency in the Barranquilla/north coast area, please contact the Embassy in Bogota at (571) 275-2000 which will forward the call to our Consular Agent.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated September 19, 2012, to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Pakistan.
The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a potential danger to U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan. Across the country, terrorist attacks frequently occur against civilian, government, and foreign targets. Attacks have included armed assaults on heavily guarded sites, including Pakistani military installations. The Government of Pakistan maintains heightened security measures, particularly in the major cities. Threat reporting indicates terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where U.S. citizens and Westerners are known to congregate or visit. Terrorists and criminal groups regularly resort to kidnapping for ransom.
Protests against the United States are not uncommon and have the potential to turn violent. U.S. citizens in Pakistan are strongly advised to avoid all protests and large gatherings.
There have been many terrorist attacks in recent years targeting civilians and security personnel. On March 3, 2013, a bomb attack in a predominately Shiite area of Karachi destroyed several buildings and killed over 50 people. In January and February 2013, two bomb attacks in Quetta targeted members of the Hazara community; each killed over 80 people. On September 3, 2012, unidentified terrorists attacked a U.S. government vehicle convoy in Peshawar, injuring U.S. and Pakistani personnel.On April 24, 2012, an explosion at the Lahore Railway Station killed three people and injured at least 30.
The Governor of the Punjab province and the Federal Minister for Minority Affairs were assassinated in Islamabad in January and March 2011, respectively. Targeted killings continue unabated in Karachi as a result of ethno-political rivalries. Targeted attacks against government officials, humanitarian and non-governmental organization (NGO) employees, tribal elders, and law enforcement personnel continue throughout the country, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan Provinces. Suicide bomb attacks have occurred at Islamabad universities, schools, rallies, places of worship, and major marketplaces in Lahore and Peshawar.
Members of minority communities have been victims of targeted killings and accusations of blasphemy, a crime that carries the death penalty in Pakistan. Foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, on valid missionary visas have encountered increased scrutiny from local authorities since early 2011.
TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS FOR GOVERNMENT PERSONNEL
U.S. government personnel travel between the Embassy and Consulates might be restricted based on security or other reasons. Movements by U.S. government personnel assigned to the Consulates General are severely restricted, and consulate staff cannot drive personally-owned vehicles. Embassy staff are permitted to drive personally-owned vehicles in the greater Islamabad area.
U.S. officials in Islamabad are instructed to limit the frequency of travel and minimize the duration of trips to public markets, restaurants, and other locations. Only a limited number of official visitors are placed in hotels, and for limited stays. Depending on ongoing security assessments, the U.S. Mission sometimes places areas such as hotels, markets, and restaurants off limits to official personnel. Official U.S. citizens are not authorized to use public transportation and are sometimes asked to restrict the use of their personal vehicles in response to security concerns.
Access to many areas of Pakistan, including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) along the Afghan border, the Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, and the area adjacent to the Line of Control (LOC) in the disputed territory of Kashmir, is restricted by local government authorities for non-Pakistanis. Travel to any restricted region requires official permission from the Government of Pakistan. Failure to obtain such permission in advance can result in arrest and detention by Pakistani authorities. Due to security concerns, the U.S. government currently allows only essential travel within the FATA by U.S. officials. Travel to much of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province and Balochistan is also restricted.
GENERAL SAFETY AND SECURITY
Since the announcement that Osama bin Laden was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan on May 2, 2011, U.S. citizens should be aware of the possible increase in the threat level throughout the country.
Rallies, demonstrations, and processions occur regularly throughout Pakistan on very short notice. Demonstrations might take on an anti-U.S. or anti-Western character, and U.S. citizens are urged to avoid large gatherings. Anti-U.S. protests in September 2012 attracted large crowds outside U.S. diplomatic facilities in all major cities and caused casualties and significant property damage. The Mission reminds U.S. citizens that even peaceful demonstrations might become violent and advises U.S. citizens to avoid demonstrations. Given multiple demands for resources, local authorities may have limited capacity to respond to requests for assistance.
The Mission reiterates its advice to all U.S. citizens to maintain good situational awareness, avoid large crowds, and keep a low profile, particularly when visiting locations frequented by Westerners. U.S. citizens in Pakistan are strongly urged to avoid hotels that do not apply stringent security measures, and to vary times and routes for all travel.
U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan have also been kidnapped for ransom or for personal reasons such as family disputes over property. In August 2012, a U.S. citizen in Karachi was kidnapped from a car outside of a friend’s residence. In June 2011, a U.S. citizen in Lahore was kidnapped while en route to his business. Both U.S. citizens were released after their families paid a ransom. In August 2011, a U.S. citizen in Lahore was kidnapped from his residence. Al-Qaida later claimed responsibility and issued a list of demands in exchange for his release. The kidnapping of Pakistani citizens and other foreign nationals, usually for ransom, continues to increase nationwide. U.S. citizens who feel they are in danger or their security is at risk are strongly urged to depart Pakistan as soon as possible.
U.S. citizens seeking services from the U.S. Consulates General in Karachi and Peshawar might also encounter harassment from host government officials. Citing security concerns, host-government intelligence officials frequently stop U.S. citizens outside the Consulates and obtain their personal information before allowing them to proceed. U.S. citizens might later be visited at their homes or offices and questioned about the nature of their business in Pakistan and the purpose of their visit to the Consulate.
U.S. citizens should ensure that their travel documents and visas are valid at all times. U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan have been arrested, deported, harassed, and detained for overstaying their Pakistani visas or for traveling to Pakistan without the appropriate visa classification. U.S. citizens who attempt to renew or extend their visas while in Pakistan have been left without legal status for an extended period of time and subjected to harassment or interrogation by local authorities. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General can provide very limited assistance to U.S. citizens who have overstayed their Pakistani visas. Since 2011, the number of U.S. citizens arrested, detained, and prosecuted for visa overstays has increased across the country.
U.S. citizens are advised to make electronic and paper copies of their U.S. passport, Pakistani visa, and entry stamp into Pakistan in order to facilitate their departure from Pakistan if their U.S. passport is lost or stolen, and keep the copies in a readily accessible location.
Security threats might, on short notice, temporarily restrict the ability of the U.S. Missions, particularly in Peshawar, to provide routine consular services. All U.S. citizens are encouraged to apply for renewal of travel documents at least three months prior to expiration.
U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Pakistan despite this Travel Warning are encouraged to enroll with the Embassy in Islamabad or the Consulates General in Karachi, Lahore, or Peshawar. This enrollment can be completed online through the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) available on the Department of Statewebsite. U.S. citizens without internet access should contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate General for information on registering in person. Enrollment enables citizens to obtain updated information on travel and security within Pakistan via the emergency alert system.
The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad is located at Diplomatic Enclave, Ramna 5, and can be reached by telephone at (92-51) 208-0000; Consular Section telephone (92-51) 208-2700; and fax (92-51) 282-2632.
The U.S. Consulate General in Karachi is located at Plot 3-5 New TPX Area, Mai Kolachi Road. U.S. citizens requiring emergency assistance should call the Consular Section in Karachi at (92-21) 3527-5000. The fax number is (92-21) 3561-2420.
The U.S. Consulate General in Lahore is located on 50 Sharah-E-Abdul Hamid Bin Badees (Old Empress Road), near Shimla Hill Rotary, and can be reached by telephone at (92-42) 3603-4000 and fax: (92-42) 3603- 4212.
The U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar is located at 11 Hospital Road, Cantonment, and can be reached by telephone at (92-91) 526-8800 and fax: (92-91) 528-4171.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
For further information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Pakistan. Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, availablethrough iTunes or Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips.
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on September 17, 2012, to emphasize information on security, kidnappings, and an upsurge in violence in Lebanon and the region.
The potential in Lebanon for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains. Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt suddenly. Access to borders, airports, roads, and seaports can be interrupted with little or no warning. Public demonstrations occur frequently with little warning and have the potential to become violent. Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes often escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with little or no warning. The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services may be severely limited.
The Fulbright and the English Language Fellow programs that provided grants to U.S. scholars to live and work in Lebanon during the academic year remain suspended in country because of the security situation and the increased possibility of attacks against U.S. citizens in Lebanon.
A number of extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including some, such as Hizballah, that the U.S. government has designated as terrorist organizations. U.S. citizens have been the target of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past, and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity continues to exist in Lebanon. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon despite this Travel Warning should keep a low profile, assess their personal security, and vary times and routes for all required travel. U.S. citizens also should pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners generally are known to congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.
Hizballah maintains a strong presence in parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut, portions of the Bekaa Valley, and areas in South Lebanon. The situation remains tense, and sporadic violence involving Hizballah or other extremist or criminal organizations remains a possibility in many areas of the country. The U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens that clashes between Lebanese authorities and criminal elements have also recently occurred in other areas of the Bekaa and border regions.
The ongoing conflict in Syria has also resulted in numerous security incidents in the border regions between Lebanon and Syria and coincides with an increasing number of securityincidents around the country. Over the past year there have been regular reports of shelling, originating from Syria, of Lebanese border areas and villages, some of which has resulted in deaths and injuries, as well as reports of armed groups originating from Syria who have kidnapped or attacked Lebanese citizens living in the border area. On February 1, 2013, gunmen on the outskirts of the village of Arsal killed two soldiers in a retaliatory shoot-out when the army was in pursuit of a wanted suspect. Two Lebanese nationals were killed and several were injured due to shelling in northern Lebanon February 23-24. The potential for border violence remains and the U.S. Embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid the Lebanese-Syrian border region.
U.S. citizens in Lebanon should monitor ongoing political and security developments in Syria, as this may impact the security situation in Lebanon. On August 9, 2012 the Lebanese Internal Security Force (ISF) arrested former Lebanese Minister Michel Samaha on charges of having plotted, at the direction of Syrian regime officials, to destabilize Lebanon by setting explosions and planning to assassinate certain Lebanese officials living in Tripoli or the northern region of Akkar. On October 19, 2012, Wissam al-Hassan, Chief of the Information Branch of the ISF was assassinated in a car bombing in the Ashrafieh neighborhood of Beirut. Two other people died, and many others were injured in the blast. There have been increasing numbers of armed clashes with heightened sectarian tensions in the Tripoli neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, in areas of the Bekaa, and in Sidon.
Hizballah and other para-military groups have at times detained U.S. citizens or other foreigners for political motivations as well as for interrogation – sometimes for hours or longer. Kidnapping, whether for ransom or political motives, remains a problem in Lebanon. Suspects in kidnappings sometimes have been found to have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations.
On August 16, 2012, the Maqdad clan in Lebanon kidnapped numerous Syrians and two Turkish nationals and claimed its actions were aimed at pressing for the release of one of their family members being held prisoner in Syria, allegedly by a group supporting the Syrian opposition.
Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. policy not to pay ransom.
Demonstrators sometimes block the primary road between downtown Beirut and Rafiq Hariri International Airport without warning. Access to the airport also may be cut off, sometimes for extended periods, if the security situation deteriorates.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) is a body the United Nations and Lebanon created to investigate past political assassinations. On June 30, 2011, the STL delivered to Lebanon’s Prosecutor General an indictment containing arrest warrants for four Hizballah members who are still at large.
Beginning March 1, 2012 the United Nations renewed the STL’s mandate for a second three-year term. U.S. citizens in Lebanon should monitor ongoing political developments, particularly in relation to the STL, as Lebanese political leaders have warned publicly that the Tribunal's findings could spark civil unrest.
Rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel have occurred in the past and remain a potential threat. These attacks frequently provoke a military response from Israel. The rocket attacks and responses occur with no warning. Skirmishes and tense exchanges between the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defense Forces, as well as protesters and civilians, along Lebanon's southern border with Israel also may occur with no warning. On May 15, 2011, several demonstrators were killed and several, including a U.S. citizen, were severely wounded near the southern Lebanese border town of Maroun ar-Ras after clashes with Israel resulted in open gunfire. Landmines and unexploded ordnance pose significant dangers throughout southern Lebanon, particularly south of the Litani River, as well as in areas of the country where fighting was intense during the civil war. More than 40 civilians have been killed and over 300 injured by unexploded ordnance remaining from the July-August 2006 Israel-Hizballah war. Travelers should watch for posted landmine warnings and strictly avoid all areas where landmines and unexploded ordnance may be present.
Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the United States operate largely autonomously inside refugee and military camps in different areas of the country. Intra-communal violence within the camps has resulted in violent incidents such as shootings and explosions. U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Palestinian camps. Asbat al-Ansar, a terrorist group with alleged links to Al-Qaida, has targeted Lebanese, U.S., and other foreign government interests. Although the group has been outlawed by the Lebanese government, it continues to maintain a presence in the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.
Armed clashes, exchanges of gunfire, and incidents involving thrown grenades have all occurred, as recently as February 27, 2013, in the areas surrounding Tyre and Sidon. Similar incidents could occur again without warning.
U.S. citizens traveling or resident in Lebanon despite this Travel Warning should be aware that the U.S. Embassy's ability to reach all areas of Lebanon is limited. The Embassy cannot guarantee that Embassy employees will be able to render assistance to U.S. citizens in all areas of the country.
In the event that the security climate in Lebanon and the region worsens, U.S. citizens will be responsible for arranging their own travel out of Lebanon. U.S. citizens should be aware that the embassy does not offer “protection” services to individuals who feel unsafe. U.S. citizens with special medical or other needs should be aware of the risks of remaining given their condition, and should be prepared to seek treatment in Lebanon if they cannot arrange for travel out of the country.
U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Lebanon in 2006, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. Government for travel costs. The lack of a valid U.S. passport may hinder U.S. citizens' ability to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy's ability to provide assistance. U.S. citizens in Lebanon should therefore ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times. U.S. Legal Permanent Residents should consult with the Department of Homeland Security before they depart the United States to ensure they have proper documentation to re-enter. Further information on the Department’s role during emergencies is provided within the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. Government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions. The internal security policies of the U.S. Embassy may be adjusted at any time and without advance notice. These practices limit, and may occasionally prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas of the country. Because of security concerns, unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family members is discouraged and strictly limited and requires the Department of State’s prior approval.
U.S. citizens living or traveling in Lebanon should enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at the Bureau of Consular Affairs website to receive the latest travel updates and information and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Lebanon. U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias, Beirut, Lebanon. Public access hours for U.S. citizens are Monday; Tuesday, and Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., U.S. citizens must make appointments in advance. U.S. citizens who require emergency services outside these hours, however, may contact the embassy by telephone at any time. The telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600, 543-600, and fax 544-209.
Information on consular services and enrollment in STEP can also be found at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut's website or by phone at the above telephone numbers between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday local time. Inquiries may also be sent to BeirutACS@state.gov
Up-to-date information on travel and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
For further information, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Lebanon. You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which also contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook, and download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play, to have travel information at your fingertips.
The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the Republic of South Sudan and strongly recommends U.S. citizens defer all travel to the country. This replaces the Travel Warning dated September 10, 2012, and updates information on services to U.S. citizensin the Republic of South Sudan.
The Department of State strongly recommends that you avoid all travel to the states in the border region between Sudan and South Sudan (Upper Nile, Unity, and Western Bar el Ghazai states in South Sudan; Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan; and the Abyei Special Administrative District). Although fighting between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) has declined since spring 2012, the potential for troop build-ups along the border and renewed fighting continues to be a legitimate threat.
You should exercise extreme caution in all areas of South Sudan. In addition to the fighting in the border region, there are at least seven rebel militia forces that frequently engage in violent clashes with SPLA forces in various areas of South Sudan; these clashes can flare up with little warning and may exacerbate ethnic tensions throughout the country, leading to further violence.
The Government of South Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime or provide security to travelers outside of the capital city of Juba.
The risk of violent crime is high in Juba. In addition to the risk of criminality, U.S. citizens have been the subject of arrest and detention without cause and physical abuse by South Sudanese security services. The U.S. Embassy in Juba has imposed a curfew from 1:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. to better ensure the safety of its personnel. In addition to the curfew, the Embassy has implemented other measures to protect U.S. government personnel living and working in South Sudan. These include requiring personnel to travel in armored government vehicles at all times at night, and to obtain advance permission for any travel outside of Juba. Due to security concerns, spouses and family members of U.S. government personnel are not permitted to reside in South Sudan.
If you are currently working on humanitarian relief or development efforts in Juba, or anywhere in South Sudan, you should take measures to reduce your exposure to violent crime, and should closely follow the security policies and procedures of your organization.
There are likely to be disruptions or long delays in services provided by the Government of South Sudan, including health care and sanitation.
The U.S. Embassy in Juba currently provides limited services to U.S. citizens living or traveling in South Sudan, including passport renewal, the provision of emergency passports, and notary services. The embassy does not adjudicate Consular Reports of Birth Abroad. Other routine consular services are available through the U.S. embassies in neighboring countries, such as in Khartoum, Sudan, and Nairobi, Kenya.
U.S. citizens can obtain global updates from the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where you can find the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States, or for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
If you are going to live in or travel to South Sudan despite this Travel Warning, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. Enrolling in STEP will also make it easier for us to contact you in the event of an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address. U.S. citizens in South Sudan without internet access may enroll directly at the U.S. Embassy in Juba by filling out and submitting a registration form.
U.S. citizens in South Sudan can obtain the latest security information by contacting the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Juba, South Sudan (e-mail address: ACSJuba@state.gov), or by visiting the U.S. Embassy website. In the event of an emergency, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Juba by calling 249-900-90-5107 (Zain) or 256-477-459-820 (GEMTEL) and ask to speak to the Embassy Duty Officer.