US State Department Travel Alerts
Updated on Sunday, May 19th, 2013
Travel Alerts are issued to disseminate information about short-term conditions, generally within a particular country, that pose imminent risks to the security of U.S. citizens.
The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Egypt to the continuing possibility of political and social unrest, incidents of which have led to recent violence. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security. This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert for Egypt dated March 29, 2013, and has been updated to include information about a knife attack on a private U.S. citizen near the Embassy on May 9. This Travel Alert expires on August 15, 2013.
Political unrest, which intensified prior to the constitutional referendum in December 2012 and the anniversary in 2013 of Egypt's 25th January Revolution, is likely to continue in the near future. Additionally, violent protests followed the January 2013 sentencing of persons involved in deaths and injuries at a February 2012 soccer match in Port Said. These demonstrations have, on occasion, degenerated into violent clashes between police and protesters, resulting in deaths, injuries, and extensive property damage. Participants have thrown rocks and Molotov cocktails and security forces have used tear gas and other crowd control measures against demonstrators. There are numerous reports of the use of firearms as well. While violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including downtown Cairo, Alexandria, and Port Said, the security situation in most tourist centers, including Luxor, Aswan, and Red Sea resorts such as Sharm el Sheikh, continues to be calm. Of specific concern is a rise in gender-based violence in and around protest areas where women have been the specific targets of sexual assault.
On May 9, a private U.S. citizen was attacked with a knife outside of the Embassy after being asked whether he was an American. Egyptian police have a suspect in custody and an investigation is ongoing. Additionally, Westerners and U.S. citizens have occasionally been caught in the middle of clashes and demonstrations. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security by knowing the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy. The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse. Because of the proximity of the U.S. Embassy to Tahrir Square in Cairo, the U.S. Embassy has sometimes been closed to the public on short notice due to violent protests. The Embassy will notify U.S. citizens as quickly as possible of any closing and the types of emergency consular services that will be available. Should security forces block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, U.S. citizens should contact the American Citizens Services section before attempting to come to the U.S. Embassy during that time. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to carry identification and, if moving about alone, a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Egypt.
The U.S. Embassy restricts its employees and their family members from traveling to specific areas listed in the Country Specific Information Sheet and advises all U.S. citizens to do the same. We continue to urge U.S. citizens to stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Please check our Country Specific Information Sheet for further security guidance.
Unless otherwise indicated in a public announcement, the U.S. Embassy is open for all routine American Citizens Services by appointment. U.S. citizens needing emergency assistance do not need an appointment. Visit the Embassy website to check the latest changes to Embassy hours or services. U.S. citizens with routine phone inquiries may call the Embassy's American Citizens Services section at 2797-2301, Sunday to Thursday from 1:00 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300. The U.S. Embassy is closed on U.S. federal holidays. U.S. citizens in Egypt are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website at travel.state.gov where theWorldwide Caution, Country Specific Information for Egypt, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play, 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 1-202-501-4444. Thesenumbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
The U.S. Embassy in Egypt is located at 5 Tawfik Diab Street (formerly known as Latin America Street), Garden City, Cairo. For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300.
The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Kenya to the upcoming Kenyan elections, scheduled for March 4, 2013, with a possible run-off election at a later date, potentially extending election activities through April 18.
This will be Kenya's first national election since the post-election violence that claimed over 1,000 lives, displaced as many as 600,000 people, and disrupted communications and transportation systems for several weeks in 2007-2008. U.S. citizens were not targeted during the 2007-2008 election violence and the U.S. Embassy currently has no specific threat information indicating U.S. citizens in Kenya might be targeted during this election. Nevertheless, local situations can change rapidly, especially with more than 30,000 polling stations open around the country on Election Day; there is a potential for some general localized violence and/or civil unrest to occur. Isolated instances of violence seemingly linked to political activities have already occurred in some regions of the country, and more are likely to occur before the elections are completed. Also, extremist groups such as al-Shabaab may use violence to exploit election-related tensions and common criminals may take advantage of stretched police resources to commit crimes.
U.S. citizens in Kenya are strongly urged to avoid voter polling places, demonstrations, political rallies, or large crowds of any kind during the election period. Even gatherings intended to be peaceful can turn violent with little or no warning.
The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is closely monitoring election activity throughout Kenya and will provide updates as the situation warrants on the Embassy website and via Facebook and Twitter. U.S. citizens should monitor these sites, as well as local media. U.S. citizens are advised to be aware of their surroundings and exercise good judgment in the coming weeks. General information on preparing for emergencies is available on U.S. Embassy Nairobi's website at http://nairobi.usembassy.gov/.
The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi will be closed for non-emergency services on March 4, 2013, for a Kenyan holiday. For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens should contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 020-363-6170.
U.S. citizens in Kenya are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, U.S. citizens gain access to vital security information and enable the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website at travel.state.gov, where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information for Kenya, Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for Kenya, and Travel Alerts can be found. An archive of messages to U.S. citizens in Kenya can be found on the Embassy website. Download our free Smart Traveler iPhone or Android app 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 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 more information, please call 254 (0) 20-363-6622 from outside of Kenya or 020-363-6622 within Kenya, or you may contact ACS by email at Kenya_Acs@state.gov.
The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is located on UN Avenue in Gigiri, Nairobi. All visitors seeking consular services including American Citizen Services enter at the main Consular entrance located at the front of the Embassy compound off of UN Avenue. The consular entrance is directly adjacent to the Warwick Center opposite the U.N. Complex.
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to the South Pacific region about the ongoing threat of tropical cyclones affecting the area. While tropical cyclones in the South Pacific may occur throughout the year, the South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season began on November 1 and ends April 30. U.S. citizens living in or traveling to the region should monitor local weather reports and take other appropriate action as needed. This Travel Alert replaces the South Pacific Cyclone Season Travel Alert issued on December 14, 2011 to incorporate technical edits and expires on April 30, 2013.
Each tropical cyclone season, the South Pacific region experiences approximately nine tropical cyclones, about half of which reach Category 3 intensity or above, and have the potential to cause severe destruction. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends that people living or traveling in regions prone to tropical storms and tropical cyclones be prepared; for further information about tropical cyclone preparedness, please visit NOAA's Tropical Cyclones Preparedness Guide.
Severe tropical cyclones have caused death, injury, and extensive property damage. Many U.S. citizens traveling in this region during tropical cyclone season have been forced to delay their return to the United States or other travel because of infrastructure damage to airports and limited flight availability. Roads have been washed out or blocked by debris, impeding access to airports and land routes out of affected areas. In the event of a tropical cyclone, you may not be able to depart an affected area for 24 to 48 hours or more, particularly if you are residing in or visiting a South Pacific Island country where air service is limited.
You also may encounter uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions after storms pass. In many places, tropical cyclones are often accompanied by damaging high tides and flooding. If you are living or staying close to the ocean or other bodies of water, you may be at higher risk. Landslides and mudslides also are a serious concern during periods of heavy rain. Looting and sporadic violence sometimes occur after natural disasters. Be sure to check with local authorities for safety and security updates. Weather conditions or damage to infrastructure may delay or prevent needed assistance from U.S. embassy and host country security personnel.
If the damage in the aftermath of a storm requires evacuation, the Department of State and our embassies and consulates overseas will work to identify and recommend the safest and most efficient means of travel away from the disaster. Commercial airlines are often the best and least expensive source of transportation in an evacuation. The Department arranges other means of transport, including U.S. military support, only as a last resort when commercial transportation is completely unavailable. The Department of State does not provide free transportation, but it has the authority to provide you a loan to return to the United States if you are in financial need. You should consider obtaining travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses during an emergency, as well as medical insurance with provision for emergency medical evacuations to the United States. In some instances, commercial medical evacuations can cost $100,000 or more, and may not be covered by your insurance.
If you are living in or traveling to storm-prone regions overseas, you should prepare by organizing a kit containing a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and vital documents, including your passport, and/or birth certificate and other photo identification, in a waterproof container. Emergency shelters often have access only to basic resources and limited medical and food supplies.
Be sure to monitor local media to stay aware of weather developments. For further information on tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honolulu at http://www.usno.navy.mil/JTWC and the National Weather Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, http://www.prh.noaa.gov/hnl/cphc, Fiji's regional meteorological center responsible for tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region at http://www.met.gov.fj/, or the Government of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology at http://www.bom.gov.au/cyclone.
Minor tropical storms can develop into tropical cyclones very quickly, limiting the time available for you to evacuate safely. Tell family and friends in the United States of your whereabouts, and keep in close contact with your tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency. Please protect your travel and identity documents against loss or damage, as the need to replace lost documentation could delay or otherwise complicate your return to the United States.
We encourage all U.S. citizens abroad to enroll with the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at travel.state.gov/step or with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. STEP enrollment gives you the latest safety and security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. 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. Travelers can have the latest travel information at their fingertips by downloading our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and the Android market. While consular officers will do their utmost to assist you in a crisis, please be aware that local authorities have primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.
You will find additional information on cyclones and storm preparedness on the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Hurricane Season – Know Before You Go website. You can receive updated information on travel in cyclone-prone regions from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada, or from other areas, 1-202-501-4444. If you travel in the region, please check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate that has consular responsibilities for the territory you will be visiting. For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information website for the appropriate country or territory.