US State Department Travel Warnings – International Alerts and Warnings

Updated on Saturday, December 20th, 2014

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.

Latest Warnings

  1. Mali Travel Warning
  2. Venezuela Travel Warning
  3. Haiti Travel Warning
  4. Lebanon Travel Warning
  5. Democratic Republic of the Congo Travel Warning
  6. Djibouti Travel Warning
  7. El Salvador Travel Warning
  8. Philippines Travel Warning
  9. Colombia Travel Warning
  10. Syria Travel Warning
  11. Central African Republic Travel Warning
  12. Sudan Travel Warning
  13. Burundi Travel Warning
  14. Somalia Travel Warning
  15. Mexico Travel Warning
  16. Mauritania Travel Warning
  17. Yemen Travel Warning
  18. Eritrea Travel Warning
  19. Israel, The West Bank and Gaza Travel Warning
  20. Afghanistan Travel Warning
  21. Ukraine Travel Warning
  22. Sierra Leone Travel Warning
  23. Algeria Travel Warning
  24. Iraq Travel Warning
  25. Saudi Arabia Travel Warning
  26. Pakistan Travel Warning
  27. Nigeria Travel Warning
  28. Liberia Travel Warning
  29. Cameroon Travel Warning
  30. Libya Travel Warning
  31. Chad Travel Warning
  32. Honduras Travel Warning
  33. Kenya Travel Warning
  34. Republic of South Sudan Travel Warning
  35. Iran Travel Warning
  36. North Korea Travel Warning
  37. Niger Travel Warning

1. Mali Travel Warning

Posted on 18 December 2014 | 11:52 am
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Mali.

 We strongly warn against travel to the northern parts of the country and along the border with Mauritania because of ongoing military operations and threats of attacks and kidnappings targeting westerners.  Mali faces significant security challenges because of the presence in northern Mali of extremists and militant factions.  In October, Mali reported its first cases of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic that is ongoing in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mali dated March 21, 2014. 

Violent extremist and militant elements, including al Qaeda in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al-Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO), and extremists tied to newly-formed al-Murabitun, are present in northern Mali, although they have been mostly dislodged from the major population centers of Gao and Timbuktu.

During the past six months, there has been an increase in attacks targeting the United Nations peacekeepers of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  Rocket attacks targeting MINUSMA camps in various northern locations were reported during the year.  In addition, separate violent incidents involving suicide bombings, explosives, and land mines have occurred.  The majority of these incidents resulted in numerous injuries and casualties.

Terrorist groups have stepped up their rhetoric calling for additional attacks or kidnapping attempts on westerners and others, particularly those linked to support for international military intervention.  In recent months, some of these groups have abducted a number of NGO workers.  Affiliates of AQIM have claimed responsibility for the November 2013 abductions and murder of two French journalists outside Kidal. 

While the security situation in Bamako and southern Mali remains relatively stable, the potential for attacks throughout the country remains.  Additionally, there is continued police harassment and violent crime in Bamako, including several armed carjacking incidents, one of which resulted in the death of a French citizen.

Periodic public demonstrations occur throughout Mali.  While most demonstrations are peaceful, a few have become confrontational.  

Most international organizations have resumed operations and allowed family members and staff to return, but continue to exercise caution and impose varying levels of security restrictions.  The U.S. Embassy is operating normally and is closely monitoring the situation and will update U.S. citizens of any major security changes.  Our Security and Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens are posted on the Embassy's website.

The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the potential for terrorist activity throughout Mali.  U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution, be alert to their surroundings, and to avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gatherings when visiting locations frequented by westerners, in and around Bamako.  U.S. citizens throughout Mali should develop a personal security plan.  We recommend you vary your daily routine, and travel only on main roads to the extent this is possible.  Malian security forces regularly update security safeguards, including checkpoints and other movement control measures, without prior notice.

The Government of Mali may periodically impose curfews and other restrictions as security needs dictate.  U.S. citizens should monitor local news broadcasts regarding these measures.  The U.S. Embassy may also impose temporary curfews or other restrictions on U.S. Embassy employees as needed and, from time to time, close to review its security posture in response to warnings or events.  These actions will be shared with private U.S. citizen community and posted on the Embassy's website.

U.S. citizens planning travel to Mali, particularly to destinations outside of Bamako, should consult the U.S. Embassy's website or your host organization for the most recent security assessment of the areas where you plan to travel. 

Senou International Airport in Bamako is open for business and scheduled flights are proceeding normally.  Check with your airline for changes and cancellations before going to the airport.  Travelers departing Mali will experience additional airport screening procedures/ restrictions because of the recent presence of EVD in Mali.  You should arrive at the airport at least three hours in advance of your flight and consult relevant authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security website, for the most up-to-date information.

On November 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a new Travel Notice for Mali regarding EVD.  Persons whose travel originated in Mali will be subject to enhanced screening, health and EVD-exposure assessment, and 21-day movement and symptoms monitoring. For further information, visit the CDC website.

U.S. citizens in Mali despite this Travel Warning should enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  By enrolling, you will receive security updates, and the Embassy can contact you more easily in case of emergency.

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Mali 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.

The U.S. Embassy in Bamako is located in ACI 2000 at Rue 243, Porte 297.  The Embassy's mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali.  The telephone number, including for after-hour emergencies, is 223 2070-2300.  The consular fax number is 223 2070-2340.

2. Venezuela Travel Warning

Posted on 11 December 2014 | 6:55 pm
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens about the security situation in Venezuela.

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Venezuela each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work. Violent crime in Venezuela is pervasive, however, both in the capital, Caracas, and in the interior. This updates the Travel Warning issued on June 4, 2014, to include amendments to the movement policy for U.S. Embassy personnel and their families.

 

According to the non-governmental organization Venezuelan Violence Observatory (VVO), there were 24,763 homicides in Venezuela in 2013, amounting to a rate of 79 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants, among the highest in the world. In Caracas, the homicide rate is even higher at 134 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants.

Kidnappings are also a serious concern throughout the country. In 2013, 625 kidnappings were reported to the authorities. It is estimated that roughly 80 percent of kidnappings go unreported; the actual number of kidnappings in 2013 is likely much higher. Common criminals are increasingly involved in kidnappings and may deal with victims’ families directly. In addition, there is cross-border violence, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and smuggling along Venezuela’s western border.

The Department of State considers the criminal threat to U.S. government personnel in Venezuela sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions.  All U.S. direct-hire personnel and their families assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are subject to an embassy movement policy for their safety and well-being. The details of the policy are found in our Country Specific Information on Venezuela. These practices limit, and may occasionally prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas of Caracas and the interior of the country.

In addition, all U.S. direct-hire personnel and their family members who are assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Caracas are required to take an armored vehicle when traveling to and from the Maiquetia Airport as well as when traveling in some parts of Caracas and the interior.

U.S. citizens in Venezuela should be vigilant of their surroundings at all times and in all locations, especially when entering or exiting their homes, hotels, cars, garages, schools, and workplaces. Whenever possible, U.S. citizens should travel in groups of two or more persons; avoid wearing jewelry and carrying large sums of money or displaying cash, ATM/credit cards, mobile phones, or other valuables; and avoid walking at night in most areas of Venezuela or walking alone on beaches, historic ruins, and trails. Incidents of crime along inter-city roads, including carjacking and kidnapping, are common in Venezuela. Motorists should avoid traveling at night and always drive with their doors locked to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested city streets.

For more detailed information on staying safe in Venezuela, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information.  For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs' internet website, 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.

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 Venezuela are encouraged to enroll with the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to obtain updated information on travel and security within Venezuela. For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Venezuela, please contact the U.S. Embassy.

The U.S. Embassy in Caracas is located on Calle F con Calle Suapure, Lomas de Valle Arriba. The telephone number during business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.) is (011) 58-212-975-6411. For after-hours emergencies use (011) 58-212-907-8400. The fax is (011) 58-212-907-8199. Please check the Embassy website for additional information.

3. Haiti Travel Warning

Posted on 4 December 2014 | 7:03 pm
The Department of State has issued this Travel Warning to inform U.S. citizens traveling to or living in Haiti concerning the lack of adequate emergency medical facilities and the security environment in Haiti.

This replaces the Travel Warning dated March 12, 2014 and provides updated information regarding the changing nature of crime involving United States citizens in Haiti.

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when visiting Haiti given Haiti’s weak emergency response infrastructure.  Hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Haiti each year, but the poor state of Haiti’s emergency response network should be carefully considered when planning travel.  Travelers to Haiti are encouraged to use organizations that have solid evacuation and medical support options in place. (Please see the Country Specific Information page for Haiti.) 

Haiti's emergency management infrastructure remains in poor condition.  Medical facilities, including ambulance services, are particularly weak.  Some U.S. citizens injured in accidents and others with serious health concerns have been unable to find necessary medical care in Haiti and have had to arrange and pay for medical evacuation to the United States. We strongly encourage visitors to Haiti to obtain evacuation insurance.  

Kidnappings are down sharply, with just one incident involving a U.S. citizen reported to the Embassy in 2014, continuing a dramatic decline in such crimes since 2011.  However, while the Government of Haiti has made progress in arresting and disrupting perpetrators, kidnapping for ransom can affect anyone in Haiti, most particularly those maintaining long-term residence in the country. 

We urge U.S. citizens to remain aware of the possibility of robbery, especially in the Port-au-Prince area and in particular soon after leaving the airport. From May to October 2014, there were 64 reported cases of U.S. citizens being robbed shortly after departing the airport, a spike associated with the busy travel period during the summer; a similar spike can occur during the holiday season, roughly from November through the New Years’ day.  Three of these robberies resulted in the death of U.S. citizens.  In almost all cases reported to the Embassy, the victims were U.S. citizens of Haitian descent intending to visit family and friends.  We recommend that U.S. citizens have their host/organization meet them at the airport upon arrival and/or have pre-arranged airport transfers and hotels, and be circumspect in sharing their travel plans.  We also urge U.S. citizens to exercise caution when visiting banks in Port-au-Prince.  Robbery crews have been known to surveil banks and rob customers shortly after departure. 

Regions of Haiti outside the capital have fewer reported incidents of crime.  However, the Haitian authorities' ability to respond to emergencies is limited and in some areas nonexistent.  Embassy employees are required to adhere to certain required security and safety measures when traveling outside of Port-au-Prince, and they have restrictions on travel in certain areas or times.  Additionally, U.S. Embassy personnel are under an Embassy-imposed curfew from 1:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. and must remain at home or another safe facility during curfew hours.  This may constrain the Embassy’s ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Port-au-Prince.  For additional details on restrictions on staff travel within Haiti, please see our Country Specific Information for Haiti.

The United Nations’ Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) remains in Haiti to support the activities of the Haitian National Police (HNP). The HNP, with assistance from MINUSTAH, is responsible for maintaining order and rendering assistance.  However, given the possibility and unpredictability of spontaneous protests, their ability to assist U.S. citizens during disturbances is very limited. U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Haiti in 2010, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Please see our website for additional information on how the Department of State assists U.S. citizens during a crisis.

U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Haiti are urged to review our Country Specific Information page.  U.S. private sector organizations with operations in Haiti can obtain additional information on the security situation in the country through the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC).  OSAC’s mission is to promote security cooperation between U.S. private sector interests worldwide and the U.S. Department of State.  OSAC also maintains an active Country Council in Haiti to promote the exchange of security-related information.  The Council is comprised of security professionals and is co-chaired by the Regional Security Officer at the U.S. Embassy Port-au-Prince and a private sector representative.  U.S. private sector entities can obtain additional information on OSAC by visiting the OSAC website.

We strongly urge U.S. citizens to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information.  While the Embassy's ability to provide emergency consular services is extremely limited, travel enrollment will enable receipt of security messages via email.  Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States; callers outside the United States and Canada can receive the information by calling 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.

The Embassy of the United States of America is located in Port-au-Prince at Boulevard du 15 Octobre, Tabarre 41, Tabarre, Haiti, telephone: (509) 2229-8000, facsimile: (509) 2229-8027, email:acspap@state.gov American Citizens Services (ACS) Unit office hours are 7:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  The Consular Section is closed on U.S. and local holidays.  After hours, on weekends and on holidays, please call (509) 2229-8000 and an automated attendant will connect you with the Embassy duty officer.  U.S. citizens can also stay informed about conditions in Haiti by following the Embassy and ACS on Twitter and Facebook.

4. Lebanon Travel Warning

Posted on 26 November 2014 | 8:13 pm
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of ongoing 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 August 15, 2014.

The potential for death or injury in Lebanon exists in particular because of the frequency of terrorist bombing attacks throughout the country. Many of the attacks have targeted specific individuals or venues, but nearly all cases have resulted in death and injuries to innocent bystanders. Although there is no evidence these attacks were directed specifically at U.S. citizens at this time, there is a real possibility of “wrong place, wrong time” harm to U.S. citizens. The most recent wave of bombings began in June 2013, with four bombings in Beirut and Tripoli that collectively left hundreds dead and wounded. The attacks have continued in 2014. On February 19, in an attack against the Iranian Cultural Center, two suicide bombers killed at least five and wounded over 30 in southern Beirut. On February 22, a car bomb was detonated at a check point in Hermel, killing one and wounding 14. On March 17, a car bomb exploded in the eastern Bekaa town of Nabi Othman, causing two deaths and more than 10 injuries. On June 20 a suicide bomber detonated himself at a checkpoint on the main Damascus-Beirut highway, resulting in one killed, and over 30 injured. On June 24 a suicide car bomb was detonated in southern Beirut after Lebanese authorities stopped the driver, killing two and wounding a dozen people at a nearby cafe. On June 26, a suicide bomber detonated his vest as security forces were closing in on him at a local tourist hotel in downtown Beirut, wounding three of the security forces.

Attacks now regularly involve suicide bombers. Similar incidents can occur without warning. There have been numerous reports in the media of Lebanese security forces disrupting other planned bombings. To date, Lebanese security forces have been successful against potential suicide bombers, who have often been forced to detonate their vests or vehicles short of their targets. This practice of suicide bombers adds an additional element of unpredictability, since just avoiding potential target areas does not provide any protection from being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Sudden outbreaks of violence can occur at any time in the country, and major cities in Lebanon have seen armed clashes. There are frequent armed clashes in the city of Tripoli, particularly between the neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, which have resulted in deaths and injuries. The Lebanese Armed Forces are routinely brought in to quell the violence in these situations. The Lebanese government cannot guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country in the event violence should occur 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 become violent in some instances. Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes can escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with no warning. The ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services is severely limited. 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.

Extremist groups operate in Lebanon, including some such as Hizballah, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), the Abdullah Azzam Brigades (AAB), and al-Nusrah Front (ANF), that the U.S. Government has designated as terrorist organizations. ISIL and ANF have claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Lebanon, and these groups are active in north Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and in border areas with Syria. U.S. citizens have been the target of terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past, and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity remains 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. They should consider avoiding areas where bombings have taken place recently.  The most recent Security Messages are posted on the U.S. Embassy Beirut website.

Hizballah maintains a strong presence in parts of south Beirut, the Bekaa Valley, and areas in southern Lebanon. Hizballah has been the target of attacks by other extremist groups for their support of the Asad regime in Syria. The potential for violence between Hizballah and other extremist groups throughout the country remains a strong possibility. Hizballah and other groups have at times detained and extensively interrogated U.S. citizens or other foreigners for political motivations. 

U.S. citizens in Lebanon should monitor ongoing political and security developments in Syria, as these often impact stability in Lebanon. The conflict in Syria has resulted in numerous security incidents in the border regions with Lebanon, as well as in other parts of the country. Over the past year, there were numerous incidents of cross-border shelling and air strikes of Lebanese villages from Syria, which resulted in deaths and injuries, as well as reports of armed groups from Syria who kidnapped or attacked Lebanese citizens living in the border area. Clashes between Lebanese authorities and criminal elements occurred in areas of the Bekaa Valley and border regions. Similar incidents could occur again without warning. With the potential for violence and abductions, the U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Lebanese-Syrian border region altogether.

Kidnapping, whether for ransom or political motives, remains a problem in Lebanon. Kidnappers have abducted business people under the guise of coming to Lebanon for meetings. Suspects in kidnappings sometimes have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations. 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 make concessions to hostage takers. U.S. law also makes it illegal to provide material support to terrorist organizations. 

The U.S. Department of State wishes to warn U.S. citizens of the risk of traveling on airlines that fly over Syria. As we have seen in the recent past, commercial aircraft are at risk when flying over regions in conflict. We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens considering air travel overseas evaluate the route that their proposed commercial flight may take and avoid any that pass through Syrian airspace. U.S. government personnel in Lebanon have been prohibited from taking flights that pass through Syrian airspace. Flight paths are subject to change, so you should check with your airline to try to verify your flight’s route before traveling.

Rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel have occurred at an increased rate, in connection with the violence between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. These attacks, normally consisting of a few unsophisticated rockets fired at northern Israel, often provoke a prompt military response from Israel in the form of artillery fire. The rocket attacks and responses can occur with no warning. Skirmishes and tense exchanges between the LAF and the Israel Defense Forces along Lebanon's southern border also may occur with no warning. 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 more than 300 injured by unexploded ordnance remaining from the 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 in different areas of the country inside refugee camps. Intra-communal violence within the camps has resulted in shootings and explosions.  U.S. citizens should avoid travel to Palestinian refugee camps. 

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 prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas of the country, especially to parts of metropolitan Beirut, the city of Tripoli, northern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon. Because of security concerns, unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family members is strictly limited, and requires the Department of State’s prior approval.

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 on the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website.  

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Lebanon should enroll in the Department of Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), at the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website, Travel.State.Gov, 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, from 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 may contact the Embassy by telephone at any time. The Embassy’s telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600, (961-4) 543-600, and fax (961-4) 544-209 (Note: the (961) is only necessary when dialing from outside the country. When dialing inside the country, use ‘0’ before the number, e.g., 04 542-600).

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. U.S. citizens in Lebanon may also contact the consular section by email at 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 additional information, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information Country Specific Information for Lebanon. You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, Travel.State.Gov, which also contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook

5. Democratic Republic of the Congo Travel Warning

Posted on 25 November 2014 | 6:31 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (a.k.a. DRC or Congo-Kinshasa,).

U.S. citizens should avoid all but essential travel to the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, northeastern Orientale, and northern and central Katanga, where instability and sporadic violence continues. Very poor transportation infrastructure throughout the country and continued insecurity in eastern DRC makes it difficult to provide consular services anywhere outside of Kinshasa. This replaces the Travel Warning dated April 23, 2014 to update information on security in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The security situation in eastern DRC remains unstable. Armed groups, bandits, and elements of the Congolese armed forces, primarily located in the North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale provinces, as well as the northern and central parts of Katanga province, and the eastern part of Maniema province, are known to kill, rape, kidnap, pillage, steal vehicles, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians can be indiscriminately targeted. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) operates near the border with Central African Republic, and the Republic of South Sudan, particularly in and around Garamba National Park. 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.

Travelers are frequently detained and questioned by poorly disciplined security forces at numerous official and unofficial roadblocks and border crossings throughout the country and especially near government buildings and installations in Kinshasa. These roadblocks should be avoided when possible. If stopped at a roadblock, open the driver’s side window slightly in order to communicate. 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.

The DRC has few viable highways or railways. Although boat transport is widely used, vessels are often overloaded and/or poorly maintained; accidents are commonplace and often fatal. Domestic air travel on Congolese or other local airlines in the DRC is not recommended.  Note the U.S. Embassy prohibits the travel of its personnel on most airlines flying domestic routes in the DRC due to safety and maintenance concerns. This prohibition does not apply to international flights inside the DRC on foreign-owned-and-operated carriers.

Travelers should consult with their healthcare provider before traveling to the DRC for applicable vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis. Ensure that medical insurance includes medevac coverage. See the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website for further information. Malaria is common throughout the DRC and prophylaxis is recommended. There may be outbreaks of potentially deadly infectious diseases, such as yellow fever, measles, cholera and the Ebola virus, each of which can occur without warning and often without swift reporting by local health authorities. Diarrheal diseases are prevalent throughout the country.

Avoid all public demonstrations and areas where crowds have gathered because even peaceful events can become violent and turn deadly. Closely monitor local and international news from reliable sources. English-language news can be found on BBC at 92.6 FM. Radio Okapi broadcasts in French on 103.5 FM at 0700, 0800, 1200, and 1800 hours, and provides updates throughout the day. In emergencies, the Belgian Embassy operates a French-language radio broadcast system at FM 98.8. 

U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in the DRC despite this Travel Warning are urged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa for information on the latest Embassy security guidance, and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information.  Please be sure to keep information in STEP current, including proposed date of departure.  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 Kinshasa at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs. The Consular Section entrance is located on Avenue Dumi, opposite Saint Anne's Church. The Embassy Consular section can be reached by telephone, including for after-hours emergencies, at +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. Security information for U.S. citizens in DRC is posted on Embassy Kinshasa’s website.

For further information, consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the current Worldwide Caution, located on the Department of State's 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 current travel warnings and travel alerts.  Follow us on Twitter and the bureau of consular affairs page on Facebook as well.

6. Djibouti Travel Warning

Posted on 25 November 2014 | 4:29 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Djibouti. U.S. citizens in Djibouti should evaluate their personal security situation in light of specific threats from terrorism.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Djibouti dated June 8, 2014.

The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at Western (including U.S.) and Djiboutian interests in Djibouti.  Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings (to include car bombings), kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Djiboutian ports.  Attacks may target official government facilities, including Embassies and military installations, as well as soft targets such as restaurants, clubs, hotels, and other commercial entities.  While Djiboutian officials continue the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist attacks, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region.  Travelers should also consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.

On May 24, 2014, two suicide bombers attacked a restaurant popular with Westerners in Djibouti’s city center.  One person was killed and others were severely injured.  Al Shabaab claimed responsibility for this attack, and renewed its previously stated intent to conduct similar attacks in Djibouti against both Djiboutian and Western targets.  These threats have been regularly repeated since 2011, following Djibouti’s commitment to contribute forces to the African Union Mission in Somali (AMISOM). 

Citizens should stay abreast of local developments by following local press, radio, and television reports prior to undertaking travel.  Visitors should also consult their hosts, including U.S. and Djibouti business contacts, and hotels.  We also encourage U.S. citizens to evaluate carefully the security of places they visit in Djibouti, particularly public places such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs/bars, and restaurants. 

U.S. citizens already in Djibouti should be extremely vigilant about their personal security, particularly in crowded public places such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs/bars, restaurants, bus stations, and places of worship.  U.S. citizens should remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events. Adopt the following good practices: avoid crowded transportation venues; visit only legitimate businesses and tourist areas, preferably during daylight hours; lock all lodging doors and windows; carry minimal amounts of cash and credit cards; do not wear jewelry that attracts attention; know emergency phone numbers; do not resist or antagonize armed criminals; and always be aware of your surroundings.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Djibouti despite this Travel Warning are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information.  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.  U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti.  U.S. citizens are also advised to monitor the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti website, Facebook page and Twitter feed, and local and international news outlets.

The U.S. Embassy in Djibouti is located at Lotissement Haramous Lot # 350B, tel. +(253) 21-45-30-00.  You can contact the Consular Section of the Embassy via email at ConsularDjibouti@State.gov.  For after-hours emergencies, please call +(253) 77-87-72-29 or 21-45-30-00.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Djibouti, as well as the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, which are all available on the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website.  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 on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  

7. El Salvador Travel Warning

Posted on 21 November 2014 | 8:42 pm
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that crime and violence levels in El Salvador remain critically high.

This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated April 25, 2014, and includes updated information on crime and security in El Salvador.

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit El Salvador each year for study, tourism, cruise ship visits, business, and volunteer work.  There is no information to suggest that U.S. citizens are specifically targeted by criminals; however, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country.   Since January 2010, 33 U.S. citizens have been murdered in El Salvador including a nine-year-old child in December 2013.  During the same time period, 366 U.S. citizens reported having their passports stolen, while others were victims of violent crimes.

Typical crimes in El Salvador include extortion, mugging, highway assault, home invasion, and car theft.  There have also been cases reported in which criminals observe and follow customers making withdrawals at ATMs and banks, then rob them on the road or at a residence.  Some victims unwittingly wander into gang-controlled territory and may be targeted, normally at night.  Assaults against police officers have risen, and public shootouts are not uncommon.  Armed robberies of climbers and hikers in El Salvador’s national parks are known to occur, and the Embassy strongly recommends engaging the services of a local guide certified by the national or local tourist authority when hiking in back country areas -- even within the national parks.  The National Civilian Police (PNC) has a special tourist police force (POLITUR) to provide security and assistance to visitors.  It has officers located in 19 tourist destinations.

A majority of serious crimes are never solved; only six of the 33 murders committed against U.S. citizens since January 2010 have resulted in convictions.  The Government of El Salvador lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases and to deter violent crime.  While several of the PNC’s investigative units have shown great promise, routine street-level patrol techniques, anti-gang, and crime suppression efforts are limited.  Equipment shortages (particularly radios, vehicles, and fuel) further limit their ability to deter or respond to crimes effectively.

El Salvador, a country of roughly six million people, has, according to Government of El Salvador statistics, thousands of known gang members from several gangs including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and Eighteenth Street (M18). Gang members are quick to engage in violence or use deadly force if resisted.  These “maras” concentrate on narcotics and arms trafficking, murder for hire, carjacking, extortion, and violent street crime.  Authorities believe a significant number of disappearances are related to gang activity, since many of the missing were in gangs or were friends or family members of gang members.  Police sources claim that the families of gang members often face the same risks of being killed or disappearing as the gang members themselves.

Extortion is a particularly serious and very common crime in El Salvador.  Some extortion attempts are no more than random cold calls that originate from imprisoned gang members using cellular telephones, and the subsequent threats against the victim are made through social engineering and/or through information obtained about the victim’s family.  U.S. citizens who are visiting El Salvador for extended periods are at higher risk for extortion demands.  Many extortions and other crimes are not reported by victims for fear of reprisal and lack of faith in the ability of the government to protect the victims.

U.S. citizens should remain alert to their surroundings, especially when entering or exiting their homes or hotels, cars, garages, schools, and workplaces.  Whenever possible, travel in groups.  U.S. Embassy security officials advise all U.S. government personnel not to walk, run, or cycle in the unguarded streets and parks of El Salvador, even in groups, and recommend exercising only in gyms and fitness centers.  Avoid wearing expensive jewelry, and do not carry large sums of money or display cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables.  Avoid walking at night in most areas of El Salvador. Incidents of crime along roads, including carjacking, are common in El Salvador.  Motorists should avoid traveling at night and always drive with their doors locked to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested downtown streets.  Travel on public transportation, especially buses, both within and outside the capital, is risky and not recommended.  The Embassy advises official visitors and personnel to avoid using mini-buses and regular buses and to use only radio-dispatched taxis or those stationed in front of major hotels.

For more detailed information regarding personal security, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information for El Salvador.  U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, where the 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.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in El Salvador are strongly encouraged to sign up for the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to obtain updated information on travel and security within El Salvador.  Travelers may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or on a regular toll line at 202-501-4444.

The U.S. Embassy is located on Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur, Urbanización Santa Elena, Antiguo Cuscatlán, La Libertad, and can be reached at:

Telephone: 503-2501-2999
Fax: 503-2278-5522 / 503-2278-6020
Email: ACSSanSal@state.gov
Website: sansalvador.usembassy.gov
Facebook: www.facebook.com/embajadaamericanaelsalvador
Twitter: twitter.com/USCitSV

For after-hours emergencies, please call 503-2501-2253.

8. Philippines Travel Warning

Posted on 20 November 2014 | 3:02 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu Archipelago, the island of Mindanao, and the southern Sulu Sea area.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated May 19, 2014, and reflects continuing threats in those areas due to terrorist and insurgent activities.

U.S. citizens should continue to defer non-essential travel to the Sulu Archipelago, due to the high threat of kidnapping of international travelers and violence linked to insurgency and terrorism there.

Based on a history of kidnappings and attempted kidnappings of foreigners in the Eastern Sabah province of Malaysia and in the southern Sulu Sea area by terrorist or insurgent groups based in the Sulu Archipelago, U.S. citizens should continue to exercise extreme caution if considering travel in the southern Sulu Sea region from the southern tip of Palawan, along the coast of Sabah, Malaysia and the islands of the Sulu Archipelago, up to Zamboanga City, Mindanao.

U.S. citizens should continue to exercise extreme caution if traveling to the main island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines.  Separatist and terrorist groups across Mindanao continued their violent activities, conducting bombings and kidnappings, attacking civilians and political leaders, and battling Philippine security forces.  In particular, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) remain active in the Cotabato City area, and in the Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces, where the government maintains a state of emergency and a greater police presence.  

The Embassy has imposed a strict restriction on all but the most essential travel to Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, and Embassy employees must receive special authorization from Embassy security officials to travel to any location in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago, including urban centers.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in the Philippines 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 nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for the Philippines.  For additional information, refer to the Traveler's Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 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).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy is located at: 1201 Roxas Boulevard, Manila, Philippines, tel. 63-2-301-2000.  The American Citizens Services (ACS) section's fax number is 63-2-301-2017, and you may reach the ACS Section by email at ACSinfoManila@state.gov.  The ACS Section's website includes consular information and the most recent messages to the U.S. citizen community in the Philippines. 

9. Colombia Travel Warning

Posted on 14 November 2014 | 2:38 pm
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, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellin, and Cali.  However, violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural and urban areas. This Travel Warning replaces the previous travel warning released on April 14, 2014, with minor changes to the travel restrictions for U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia.

There have been no reports of U.S. citizens targeted specifically for their nationality. While the U.S. Embassy has no information regarding specific and credible threats against U.S. citizens in Colombia, both the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army (FARC) and National Liberation Army (ELN) terrorist groups continue to condemn any U.S. influence in Colombia.  The Department of State strongly encourages U.S. citizens to exercise caution and remain vigilant as terrorist and criminal activities remain a threat throughout the country. Explosions occur throughout Colombia on a regular basis, including in Bogota. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can be extremely dangerous due to the presence of terrorists and  criminal elements, including armed gangs (referred to as "BACRIM" 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, extortion, kidnapping, and robbery.

The incidence of kidnapping in Colombia has diminished significantly from its peak in 2000.  However, kidnapping remains a threat. Terrorist groups and other criminal organizations continue to kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom.  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 kidnappers.

U.S. government officials in Colombia regularly travel to the major cities of Colombia such as Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, and Cartagena without incident. U.S. government officials and their families in Colombia normally are permitted to travel to major cities only 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 in Colombia and their families are restricted to traveling within certain areas. This includes using the main highways to travel between Bogota and Bucaramanga, and between Bogota and Ibague. Personnel are also allowed to drive between Manizales, Pereira, and Armenia and within the “coffee country” departments of Caldas, Risaralda, and Quindío. On the Caribbean coast, personnel are restricted to driving along Highway 90 from Cartagena, through Barranquilla to Santa Marta.  Travel to all other areas of Colombia is off limits unless specific authorization is granted.  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.

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 (+57-1) 275-2000; Embassy fax: (+57-1) 275-4501; Consular Section phone: (+57-1) 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 Americas, Barranquilla, Atlantico, Colombia; telephone (+57-5) 353-2001/353-2182/369-0149. In case of an emergency in the Barranquilla/North Coast area, please contact the Embassy in Bogota at (+57-1) 275-2000 which will forward the call to our Consular Agent.

10. Syria Travel Warning

Posted on 12 November 2014 | 2:32 pm
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Syria and strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately.

This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated May 5, 2014, to remind U.S. citizens that the security situation remains dangerous and unpredictable as a civil war between government and armed anti-government groups continues throughout the country, along with an increased risk of kidnappings, bombings, murder, and terrorism.

No part of Syria should be considered safe from violence. The potential for hostile acts exists throughout the country, including kidnappings and the use of chemical warfare against civilian populations. Indiscriminate shelling and aerial bombardment, including of densely populated urban areas, have significantly raised the risk of death or serious injury. The destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, and power and water utilities has also increased hardships inside the country.

There is a terrorist threat from violent extremist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, (ISIL), formerly known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQ), the al-Nusrah Front, and others. Tactics for these groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, use of small and heavy arms, and improvised explosive devices in major city centers, including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. U.S. citizens have been kidnapped, both for ransom and political purposes, and murdered by members of terrorist and violent extremist groups in Syria.  U.S. citizens have disappeared within Syria.  Public places, such as road checkpoints, border crossings, government buildings, shopping areas, and open spaces, have been targeted.  Due to the security situation in Syria, the U.S. government’s ability to to help U.S. citizens kidnapped or taken hostage is very limited.

Communications in Syria are difficult as phone and internet connections have become increasingly unreliable. The Department of State has received reports that U.S. citizens are experiencing difficulty and facing dangers traveling within the country and when trying to leave Syria via land borders, given the diminishing availability of commercial air travel out of Syria. Fierce clashes between pro-government and opposition forces continue in the vicinity of the Damascus and Aleppo airports. Land border checkpoints held by opposition forces should not be considered safe, as they are targeted by regime attacks and some armed groups have sought to fund themselves through kidnappings for ransom. Border areas are frequent targets of shelling and other armed conflict and are crowded because of internally-displaced refugees. Errant attacks will occasionally hit border towns just outside the borders as well. Road checkpoints have been controlled by armed terrorist and violent extremist groups and have been utilized to conduct kidnappings of individuals, including U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Embassy in Damascus suspended its operations in February 2012 and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in Syria. The Government of the Czech Republic, acting through its Embassy in Damascus, serves as Protecting Power for U.S. interests in Syria. The range of consular services the Czech Republic provides to U.S. citizens is extremely limited, and those services, including for U.S. passports and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad, may require significantly more processing time than at U.S. embassies or consulates outside of Syria. U.S. citizens in Syria who seek consular services should leave the country and contact a U.S. embassy or consulate in a neighboring country if at all possible. U.S. citizens in Syria who seek consular  services in Syria may contact the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Damascus at USIS_damascus@embassy.mzv.cz.

U.S. citizens in Syria who are in need of emergency assistance in Syria, and are unable to reach the U.S. Interests Section of the Embassy of the Czech Republic or must make contact outside business hours, should contact the U.S. Embassy in Amman, Jordan:

Telephone: +962 (6) 590-6950 (Daily 2-3:30 local time)
Emergencies: +962 (6) 590-6500
E-mail: Amman-ACS@state.gov

If you seek information about U.S. citizens' services in Syria from the Office of Overseas Citizens' Services in Washington, please e-mail:  SyriaEmergencyUSC@state.gov.

The Department of State urges those U.S. citizens who decide to remain in Syria despite this Travel Warning to provide their current contact information and next-of-kin information through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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 at www.travel.state.gov. 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 additional information, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Syria. 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. 

11. Central African Republic Travel Warning

Posted on 5 November 2014 | 3:05 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR).

U.S. citizens who have decided to stay in CAR despite this warning should review their personal security situation.  This replaces the Travel Warning of May 13, 2014, to reflect the continued lack of security.

The Government of Chad closed its border with CAR May 12, 2014.  Only citizens of Chad returning home will be able to cross the Chad-CAR border.

U.S. Secretary of State Kerry announced the resumption of limited operations at the U.S. Embassy in Bangui on September 15, 2014.  However, the Embassy cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR at this time. U.S. citizens in need of routine consular services should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon by email at YaoundeACS@state.gov

U.S. citizens in CAR who are in need of emergency assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, 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; E-mail: YaoundeACS@state.gov

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 current phone 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 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.

12. Sudan Travel Warning

Posted on 30 October 2014 | 2:58 pm
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.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Sudan dated April 10, 2014.

While the Government of Sudan has taken 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 at all times, 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 may be detained by government security forces. 

Demonstrations occur periodically, mostly in Khartoum.  On September 14, 2012, the U.S. Embassy was attacked during a violent protest demonstration, and in September 2013, Khartoum and other urban areas witnessed violent confrontations between authorities and demonstrators protesting economic austerity measures.  Smaller demonstrations occur periodically in the city.  You should avoid all public demonstrations and political rallies, as even demonstrations that seem peaceful can become violent with little or no warning.  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, tribal militias and armed Darfuri rebel groups are known to have carried out criminal attacks against foreigners.  A number of 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 regional tensions entail the risk of maritime attacks being conducted against 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.  Report all suspicious activities and events 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 on our website.

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 very 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.  

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.

13. Burundi Travel Warning

Posted on 29 October 2014 | 9:02 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Burundi and recommends U.S. citizens avoid non-essential travel.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated April 3, 2014, reiterates existing security concerns, and notes updated security restrictions on travel for Embassy personnel.

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.  Low-level political violence persists throughout Burundi– a carryover of the Burundian civil war.

Armed groups operate in Burundi.  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 not uncommon but are usually not directed at foreigners.  If you encounter such a situation, stay indoors, in a ground floor interior room and away from doors and windows.  Common crimes include muggings, burglaries, and robberies.  Keep vehicle doors locked and windows up, and be careful when stopped in heavy traffic, due to the threat of robbery and theft.  U.S. government personnel are prohibited from walking on the streets after dark and from using local public transportation at any time.  Local authorities in any part of Burundi are often unable to provide timely assistance during an emergency.

Demonstrations, gatherings and even sporting events on occasion that are 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.  U.S. citizens should routinely monitor local media sources and the Internet for reports of demonstrations and unrest.

Travel outside the capital, Bujumbura, presents significant risks, especially after nightfall. Note the U.S. Embassy limits and monitors the travel of its personnel in Burundi.  All movement outside the city from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. is forbidden.  Likewise, U.S. citizens should not travel on national highways from dusk to dawn.  Armed criminals ambush vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura.

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 roadblocks 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) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information.  Please be sure to 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 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and 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, located on the Department of State's 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 current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.  Follow us on Twitter and the bureau of consular affairs page on Facebook as well.

14. Somalia Travel Warning

Posted on 24 October 2014 | 7:16 pm
The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Somalia.

This replaces the Travel Warning dated February 7, 2014, to update information on security concerns.

There is at this time no U.S. Embassy or other formal U.S. diplomatic presence in Somalia.  Consequently, the U.S. government is not in a position to assist or effectively provide services to U.S. citizens in Somalia.  In light of this and continuous security threats, the U.S. government recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to Somalia.

The security situation inside Somalia remains unstable and dangerous.  Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent to attack Somali authorities, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), and other non-military targets.  Kidnapping, bombings, murder, illegal roadblocks, banditry, and other violent incidents and threats to U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals can occur in any region of Somalia.  In addition, there is a particular threat to foreigners in places where large crowds gather and westerners frequent, including airports, government buildings, and shopping areas.  Inter-clan and inter-factional fighting can flare up with little or no warning.  This type of violence has resulted in the deaths of Somali nationals and the displacement of more than one million people.

While some parts of south/central Somalia are now under Somali government control with the military support of African Union forces, al-Shabaab has demonstrated the capability to carry out attacks in government-controlled territory with particular emphasis on targeting government facilities, foreign delegations’ facilities and movements, and commercial establishments frequented by government officials, foreign nationals, and the Somali diaspora.  In February 2012, al-Shabaab announced that it had merged with Al-Qaida.

Al-Shabaab-planned assassinations, suicide bombings, and indiscriminate armed attacks in civilian populated areas are frequent in Somalia.  On May 24, 2014, al-Shabaab stormed Somalia's Parliament and killed at least 10 security officers in a bomb and gun assault.  On April 7, 2014, two staff members associated with the United Nations were assassinated at the Galkayo airport.  On

April 21 and 22, 2014, al-Shabaab attacked a member of parliament in Mogadishu.  In February 2014, al-Shabaab carried out a bombing followed by a suicide gunman attack against the presidential place which left 16 dead.  On February 21, 2014, al-Shabaab conducted an attack against Villa Somalia resulting in several casualties.  On February 13, 2014, al-Shabaab detonated a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device targeting a United Nations convoy in close proximity to the Mogadishu International Airport entrance.  On January 1, 2014, al-Shabaab carried out a bombing against a popular Mogadishu hotel.  Kidnappings remain a daily threat in Mogadishu and elsewhere in addition to larger assaults, assassinations, and grenade attacks.  Beyond the high profile attacks noted above, al-Shabaab has also claimed responsibility for other regional terrorist attacks.

Pirates and other criminals have specifically targeted and kidnapped foreigners working in Somalia.  In January 2012, a U.S. citizen was kidnapped while on work related travel in Somalia and in October 2011, a U.S. citizen aid worker living in Somalia was also kidnapped.  In both cases, as well as in recent kidnappings of other westerners, the victims took precautionary measures by hiring local security personnel, but those hired to protect them may have played a role in the abductions.  A strong familiarity with Somalia and/or extensive prior travel to the region does not reduce travel risk.  U.S. citizens contemplating travel to Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland, are advised to obtain kidnap and recovery insurance, as well as medical evacuation insurance, prior to travel.

Additionally, U.S. citizens are urged to avoid sailing close to the coast of Somalia as attacks have occurred as far as 1,000 nautical miles off the coast in international waters.  Merchant vessels, fishing boats, and recreational craft all risk seizure by pirates and having their crews held for ransom in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia.  Somali pirates captured and killed four U.S. citizens aboard their boat on February 22, 2011.  If transit around the Horn of Africa is necessary, it is strongly recommended that vessels 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).  You 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.

U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Somalia despite this Travel Warning are strongly urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information and be included in our emergency communication system.  Travelers to Somalia should enroll with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya.  U.S. citizens traveling by sea to the area of high threat are urged to inform MSC-HOA by emailing POSTMASTER@MSCHOA.ORG, with the subject line 'Yacht Vessel Movement.'  The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (254)(20) 363-6000; after-hours emergencies (254)(20) 363-6170.  The mailing address is P.O. Box 606 Village Market 00621, Nairobi, Kenya.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Somalia, the Worldwide Caution, and the International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet.  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 on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  

15. Mexico Travel Warning

Posted on 10 October 2014 | 7:37 am
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain places in Mexico due to threats to safety and security posed by organized criminal groups in the country.

U.S. citizens have been the target of violent crimes, such as kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery by organized criminal groups in various Mexican states.  For information on security conditions in specific regions of Mexico, which can vary, travelers should reference the state-by-state assessments further below. 

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mexico, issued August 15, 2014, to update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government (USG) personnel.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mexico, issued August 15, 2014, to update information about the security situation and to advise the public of additional restrictions on the travel of U.S. government (USG) personnel. 

General Conditions: 

Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day.  The Mexican government dedicates substantial resources to protect visitors to major tourist destinations, and there is no evidence that organized criminal groups have targeted U.S. visitors or residents based on their nationality.  Resort areas and tourist destinations in Mexico generally do not see the levels of drug-related violence and crime that are reported in the border region or in areas along major trafficking routes. 

Nevertheless, U.S. travelers should be aware that the Mexican government has been engaged in an extensive effort to counter organized criminal groups that engage in narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout Mexico.  The groups themselves are engaged in a violent struggle to control drug trafficking routes and other criminal activity.  Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere.  U.S. citizens have fallen victim to criminal activity, including homicide, gun battles, kidnapping, carjacking, and highway robbery.  While many of those killed in organized crime-related violence have themselves been involved in criminal activity, innocent persons have also been killed.  The number of U.S. citizens reported to the Department of State as murdered in Mexico was 71 in 2012 and 81 in 2013. 

Gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico.  Gun battles have occurred in broad daylight on streets and in other public venues, such as restaurants and clubs.  During some of these incidents, U.S. citizens have been trapped and temporarily prevented from leaving the area. Criminal organizations have used stolen cars, buses, and trucks to create roadblocks on major thoroughfares, preventing the military and police from responding to criminal activity. The location and timing of future armed engagements is unpredictable.  We recommend that you defer travel to the areas specifically identified in this Travel Warning and exercise extreme caution when traveling throughout the other areas for which advisories are in effect. 

The number of kidnappings throughout Mexico is of particular concern and appears to be on the rise.  According to statistics published by the Mexican Secretaria de Gobernacion (SEGOB), in 2013 kidnappings nationwide increased 20 percent over the previous year.  While kidnappings can occur anywhere, according to SEGOB, during this timeframe, the states with the highest numbers of kidnappings were Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Michoacán, Estado de Mexico, and Morelos.  Additionally, according to a widely publicized study by the agency responsible for national statistics (INEGI, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography), Mexico suffered an estimated 105,682 kidnappings in 2012; only 1,317 were reported to the police.  Police have been implicated in some of these incidents.  Both local and expatriate communities have been victimized.  Nearly 70 kidnappings of U.S. citizens were reported to the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Mexico between January and June of 2014.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to lower their personal profiles and to avoid displaying indicators of wealth such as expensive or expensive-looking jewelry, watches, or cameras.  U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain awareness of their surroundings and avoid situations in which they may be isolated or stand out as potential victims.

Kidnappings in Mexico have included traditional, "express," and "virtual" kidnappings. Victims of traditional kidnappings are physically abducted and held captive until a ransom is paid for release.  "Express" kidnappings are those in which a victim is abducted for a short time and forced to withdraw money, usually from an ATM, then released.  A "virtual" kidnapping is an extortion-by-deception scheme wherein a victim is contacted by phone and convinced to isolate themselves from family and friends until a ransom is paid.  The victim is coerced (by threat of violence) to remain isolated and to provide phone numbers for the victim's family or loved ones.  The victim's family is then contacted and a ransom for the "kidnapped" extracted.  Recently, some travelers to Mexico staying at hotels as guests have been targets of such "virtual" kidnapping schemes.

Of particular safety concern are casinos, sportsbooks, or other gambling establishments and adult entertainment establishments.  U.S. government personnel are specifically prohibited from patronizing these establishments in the states of Coahuila, Durango, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas. 

Carjacking and highway robbery are serious problems in many parts of the border region, and U.S. citizens have been murdered in such incidents.  Most victims who complied with carjackers' demands have reported that they were not physically harmed.  Carjackers have shot at vehicles that have attempted to flee.  Incidents have occurred during the day and at night, and carjackers have used a variety of techniques, including roadblocks, bumping/moving vehicles to force them to stop, and running vehicles off the road at high speeds.  There are indications that criminals target newer and larger vehicles, especially dark-colored SUVs.  However, even drivers of old sedans and buses coming from the United States have been targeted.  While violent incidents can occur anywhere and at any time, they most frequently occur at night and on isolated roads.  To reduce risk when traveling by road, we strongly urge you to travel between cities throughout Mexico only during daylight hours, to avoid isolated roads, and to use toll roads ("cuotas") whenever possible. 

The Mexican government has deployed federal police and military personnel throughout the country as part of its efforts to combat organized criminal groups.  U.S. citizens traveling on Mexican roads and highways by car or bus may encounter government checkpoints, staffed by military or law enforcement personnel.  In some places, criminal organizations have erected their own unauthorized checkpoints, at times wearing police and military uniforms, and have killed or abducted motorists who have failed to stop at them.  You should cooperate at all checkpoints. 

The Department imposes restrictions on U.S. government employees' travel in Mexico.  Since July 2010, USG employees are prohibited from driving on non-official travel from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior of Mexico or Central America.  One exception is that personal travel by motor vehicle is permitted on Highway 15 toll road between Hermosillo and Nogales during daylight hours.  

U.S. government personnel and their families are prohibited from personal travel to all areas to which it is advised to "defer non-essential travel".  When travel for official purposes is essential, it is conducted with extensive security precautions.  U.S. government personnel and their families are allowed to travel for personal reasons to the areas where no advisory is in effect or where the advisory is to exercise caution.  While the general public is not forbidden from visiting places categorized under "defer non-essential travel," U.S. government personnel will not be able to respond quickly to an emergency situation in those areas due to security precautions that must be taken by U.S. government personnel to travel to those areas. 

For more information on road safety and crime along Mexico's roadways, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information

State-by-State Assessment: 

Below is a state-by-state assessment of security conditions throughout Mexico.  Travelers should be mindful that even if no advisories are in effect for a given state, crime and violence can still occur.  For general information about travel and other conditions in Mexico, see our Country Specific Information.  

Aguascalientes: You should exercise caution when traveling to the areas of the state that border the state of Zacatecas, as criminal organization activity in that region continues.  There is no advisory in effect for daytime travel to the areas of the state that do not border Zacatecas; however, intercity travel at night is not recommended.   

Baja California: Tijuana, Rosarito, Ensenada and Mexicali are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Baja California - Exercise caution in the northern state of Baja California, particularly at night.  Criminal activity along highways and at beaches is a continuing security concern.  In 2013, homicide rates in Tijuana and Rosarito increased 48 percent and 67 percent compared to the previous year, according to the Baja State Secretariat for Public Security, and both cities experienced further increases in homicide rates during the first half of 2014.  While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens.  Shooting incidents, in which innocent bystanders have been injured, have occurred during daylight hours.  

Baja California (Sur): Cabo San Lucas and La Paz are major cities/travel destinations in the state of Southern Baja California - No advisory is in effect. 

Campeche: No advisory is in effect. 

Chiapas: San Cristobal de las Casas is a major city/travel destination in Chiapas - No advisory is in effect. 

Chihuahua: Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua City, and Copper Canyon are major cities/travel destinations in Chihuahua - Exercise caution in traveling to the business and shopping districts in the northeast section of Ciudad Juarez and its major industrial parks, and the central downtown section and major industrial parks in Chihuahua City.  U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to other areas of these cities and anywhere else in the state of Chihuahua and travel during daylight hours between cities.  In Ciudad Juarez, personal travel by U.S. government employees outside the north/central and northeast portion of the city near the Consulate General is restricted and private U.S. citizens should defer non-essential travel to those areas as well.  In Chihuahua City, U.S. government personnel and their family members are permitted to travel only to the central business districts and the city's airport.  Personal vehicular travel during daylight hours by U.S. government personnel and family members is authorized between Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua using the Highway 45 toll road.  Although homicide rates in Ciudad Juarez have decreased markedly from a peak several years ago, the city still has one of the highest homicide rates in Mexico.  Crime and violence remain serious problems throughout the state of Chihuahua, particularly in the southern portion of the state and in the Sierra Mountains, including Copper Canyon.  U.S. citizens do not, however, appear to be targeted based on their nationality.  

Coahuila
: Defer non-essential travel to the state of Coahuila except the city of Saltillo, where you should exercise caution.  Violence and criminal activity along the highways are continuing security concerns, particularly along the northern border between Piedras Negras and Nuevo Laredo.  The state of Coahuila continues to experience high rates of violent crimes and narcotics-related murders.  Criminal organizations continue to compete for territory and coveted border crossings to the United States.  Violent crime, including murder, kidnapping, and armed carjacking, continues to be a concern. 

Colima: Manzanillo is a major city/travel destination in Colima
- Defer non-essential travel to the areas of the state of Colima that border the state of Michoacán, including the city of Tecoman.  The security situation along the Michoacán border continues to be the most unstable in the state, with gun battles occurring between rival criminal groups and with Mexican authorities.  Intercity travel at night is not recommended.

Durango: Defer non-essential travel to the state of Durango except the city of Durango, where you should exercise caution.  Violence and criminal activity along the highways are a continuing security concern.  Several areas in the state continue to experience high rates of violence and remain volatile and unpredictable.  U.S. government personnel may not travel outside the city of Durango and must abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. within a secured venue. 

Estado de Mexico: Toluca and Teotihuacan are major travel destinations in Estado de Mexico - Defer non-essential travel to the municipalities of Coacalco, Ecatepec, Nezahualcoyotl, La Paz, Valle del Chalco, Solidaridad, Chalco, and Ixtapaluca, which are eastern portions of the greater Mexico City metropolitan area, located just to the east of the Federal District of Mexico and Benito Juarez airport, unless traveling directly through the areas on major thoroughfares.  These areas have seen high rates of crime and insecurity.  You should also defer non-essential travel on any roads between Santa Marta in the southeast portion of the state and Huitzilac in the state of Morelos, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas. 

Guanajuato: San Miguel de Allende and Leon are major cities/travel destinations in Guanajuato - No advisory is in effect. 

Guerrero: Acapulco, Ixtapa, Taxco and Zihuatanejo are major cities/travel destinations in Guerrero - Defer non-essential travel to all parts of the state, except for the cities of Acapulco, Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa, Taxco, and the caves at Grutas de Cacahuamilpa.  Even in these tourist-friendly cities, you should exercise caution and stay within tourist areas.  If driving to Taxco, only use federal toll road (“cuota”) 95D, exit at Puente de Ixtala/Iguala 91 and use 95 Cuernavaca-Iguala; return using the same route.  Do not stop between the 95D toll road and Taxco.  Gas refueling and rest breaks should be planned accordingly.  You should also exercise caution and travel only during daylight hours on highway 95/95D between Mexico City and Acapulco.  Use the toll road towards the Playa Diamante area and avoid the highway running through the city of Acapulco for travel to and from Acapulco.  In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas further than 2 blocks inland of the Costera Miguel Aleman Boulevard, which parallels the popular beach areas. Lodging for U.S. government personnel is limited to the hotel zone (“zona hotelera”) of Acapulco, beginning from the Hotel Avalon Excalibur Acapulco in the north and going south through Puerto Marquez including the Playa Diamante area.  Any activity outside the hotel zone for U.S. government personnel is limited to the coastal area from La Quebrada to the beginning of the hotel zone and only during daylight hours.  In general, the popular tourist area of Diamante, just south of the city, has been less affected by violence.  Flying into the coastal cities in southern Guerrero remains the preferred method of travel.  You should defer non-essential travel by land between Acapulco and Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa; travel to Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa only by air, and exercise caution while in Zihuatanejo/Ixtapa.  The state of Guerrero was the most violent state in Mexico in 2013, with 2,087 homicides and 207 reported cases of kidnapping, according to the Mexican Secretariado Ejecutivo Nacional de Seguridad Publica.  Self-defense groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero.  Armed members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable. 

Hidalgo: No advisory is in effect. 

Jalisco: Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, and Lake Chapala are major cities/travel destinations in Jalisco - Defer non-essential travel to areas of the state that border the states of Michoacán and Zacatecas.  The security situation along the Michoacán and Zacatecas borders continues to be unstable and gun battles between criminal groups and authorities occur.  Concerns include roadblocks placed by individuals posing as police or military personnel and recent gun battles between rival criminal organizations involving automatic weapons.  You should exercise caution in rural areas and when using secondary highways, particularly along the northern border of the state.  Except for the areas of the state that border Michoacán, there is no advisory in effect for daytime travel within major population centers or major highways in the state of Jalisco.  Intercity travel at night is not recommended.  There is no recommendation against travel to Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta.  There is also no recommendation against travel on principal highways in Jalisco between Guadalajara including the portions that cross into the southern portions of the state of Nayarit. 

Mexico City (also known as the Federal District): No advisory is in effect.  See also the discussion in the section on Estado de Mexico for areas within the greater Mexico City metropolitan area. 

Michoacán: Morelia is a major city/travel destination in Michoacán - Defer non-essential travel to the state of Michoacán except the cities of Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas and the area north of federal toll road 15D, where you should exercise caution.  U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling by land in Michoacán except on federal toll road 15D during daylight hours.  Flying into Morelia and Lázaro Cardenas is the recommended method of travel.  Attacks on Mexican government officials, law enforcement and military personnel, and other incidents of organized crime-related violence, have occurred throughout Michoacán.  Federal authorities deployed some 9,000 federal security forces to Michoacán in January 2014 to address rising insecurity, particularly in the entire western part of the state.  Due to criminal activity in Lázaro Cardenas, the Mexican military assumed direct control of the port in late 2013.  Government authorities incorporated some of the self-defense groups that had operated independently of the government in recent months into a new state police unit in May.  Armed members of some other self-defense groups maintain roadblocks and, although not considered hostile to foreigners or tourists, are suspicious of outsiders and should be considered volatile and unpredictable.  Some groups in Michoacán are reputed to be linked to organized crime. 

Morelos: Cuernavaca is a major city/travel destination in Morelos - Exercise caution in the state of Morelos due to the unpredictable nature of organized crime violence.  You should also defer non-essential travel on any roads between Huitzilac in the northwest corner of the state and Santa Marta in the state of Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas.  On August 24, 2012, two U.S. government employees were injured after being fired upon by Federal Police officers on a non-toll road north of Tres Marias, Morelos.  Numerous incidents of organized crime-related violence have also occurred in the city of Cuernavaca. 

Nayarit: Defer non-essential travel to areas of the state of Nayarit that border the states of Sinaloa or Durango, as well as all rural areas and secondary highways.  There is no recommendation against travel to the Vallarta-Nayarit area in the southern portion of the state known as the Riviera Nayarit, Tepic, Xalisco, and San Blas, or to principal highways in the southern portion of the state used to travel from Guadalajara to Puerto Vallarta.  Intercity travel at night is not recommended.

Nuevo Leon: Monterrey is a major city/travel destination in Nuevo Leon - Defer non-essential travel to the state of Nuevo Leon except the metropolitan area of Monterrey, where you should exercise caution.  Although the level of organized crime-related violence and general insecurity in Monterrey has decreased dramatically within the last 18 months, sporadic incidents of violence have occurred in the greater Monterrey area.  Security services in and around Monterrey are robust and have proven responsive and effective in combating violent crimes; however, instances of violence remain a concern in the more remote regions of the state.  Criminal organizations have kidnapped, and in some cases murdered, U.S. citizens, even when ransom demands are met.  As a result of a Department of State assessment of the overall security situation, U.S. government personnel and their dependents may not travel outside the San Pedro Garza Garcia municipal boundaries between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., except for travel to the airport after 5 a.m.  

Oaxaca: Oaxaca, Huatulco and Puerto Escondido are major cities/travel destinations in Oaxaca - No advisory is in effect. 

Puebla: No advisory is in effect. 

Queretaro: No advisory is in effect. 

Quintana Roo: Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya and Tulum are major cities/travel destinations in Quintana Roo - No advisory is in effect. 

San Luis Potosi: Defer non-essential travel to the state of San Luis Potosi, except the city of San Luis Potosi, where you should exercise caution.  Violence and criminal activity along highways are continuing security concerns.  U.S. government personnel may not travel outside the City of San Luis Potosi and must abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. within a secured venue. 

Sinaloa: Mazatlan is a major city/travel destination in Sinaloa - Defer non-essential travel to the state of Sinaloa except the city of Mazatlan, where you should exercise caution, particularly late at night and in the early morning.  One of Mexico's most powerful criminal organizations is based in the state of Sinaloa, and violent crime rates remain high in many parts of the state.  Travel off the toll roads in remote areas of Sinaloa is especially dangerous and should be avoided.  We recommend that any travel in Mazatlan be limited to Zona Dorada and the historic town center, as well as direct routes to/from these locations and the airport. 

Sonora: Nogales, Puerto Peñasco, Hermosillo, and San Carlos are major cities/travel destinations in Sonora - Sonora is a key region in the international drug and human trafficking trades and can be extremely dangerous for travelers.  Travelers throughout Sonora are encouraged to limit travel to main roads during daylight hours.  The region west of Nogales, east of Sonoyta, and from Caborca north, including the towns of Saric, Tubutama, and Altar, and the eastern edge of Sonora bordering Chihuahua, are known centers of illegal activity, and non-essential travel between these cities should be avoided.  Travelers should also defer non-essential travel to the eastern edge of the state of Sonora, which borders the state of Chihuahua (all points along that border east of the northern city of Agua Prieta and the southern town of Alamos), and defer non-essential travel within the city of Ciudad Obregon and south of the city of Navojoa.  You should exercise caution while transiting Vicam in southern Sonora due to roadblocks that can be instituted ad hoc by local indigenous and environmental groups.  U.S. citizens visiting Puerto Peñasco should use the Lukeville, Arizona/Sonoyta, Sonora border crossing, and limit driving to daylight hours. 

Tabasco: Villahermosa is a major city/travel destination in Tabasco - No advisory is in effect. 

Tamaulipas: Matamoros, Nuevo Laredo, Reynosa, and Tampico are major cities/travel destinations in Tamaulipas -  Defer non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas.  All U.S. government employees are prohibited from personal travel on Tamaulipas highways outside of Matamoros, Reynosa, and Nuevo Laredo due to the risks posed by armed robbery and carjacking, particularly along the northern border.  Traveling outside of cities after dark is not recommended.  While no highway routes through Tamaulipas are considered safe, the highways between Matamoros-Ciudad Victoria, Reynosa-Ciudad Victoria, Ciudad Victoria-Tampico, Monterrey-Nuevo Laredo, and Monterrey-Reynosa, are more prone to criminal activity.  In Matamoros, U.S. government employees are subject to movement restrictions between midnight and 6 a.m. 

Matamoros, Reynosa, Nuevo Laredo, and Ciudad Victoria have experienced numerous gun battles and attacks with explosive devices in the past year.  Violent conflicts between rival criminal elements and/or the Mexican military can occur in all parts of the region and at all times of the day.  The number of reported kidnappings for Tamaulipas is among the highest in Mexico, and the number of U.S. citizens reported to the consulates in Matamoros and Nuevo Laredo as being kidnapped, abducted, or disappearing involuntarily in the first half of 2014 has also increased.  In May 2014, a Mexican state and federal security initiative was announced focused on combating increased violence in the state.

Tlaxcala: No advisory is in effect. 

Veracruz: Exercise caution when traveling in the state of Veracruz.  The state of Veracruz continues to experience violence among rival criminal organizations.  Mexican federal security forces continue to assist state and local security forces in providing security and combating organized crime.  

Yucatan: Merida and Chichen Itza are major cities/travel destinations in Yucatan - No advisory is in effect. 

Zacatecas: Defer non-essential travel to areas of Zacatecas near the border with other Mexican states.  Exercise caution in the interior of the state including the city of Zacatecas.  Robberies, carjackings, and organized criminal activity remain a concern.  Gun battles between criminal groups and authorities have occurred in the area of the state bordering the state of Jalisco.  Extreme caution should be taken when traveling in the remainder of the state.  U.S. government personnel may not travel outside the city of Zacatecas after dark and must abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. within a secured venue. 

Further Information 

For more detailed information on staying safe in Mexico, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information for Mexico. 

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department's internet web site, where the current Worldwide CautionTravel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  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 traveling or residing overseas are encouraged to enroll with the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  For any emergencies involving U.S. citizens in Mexico, please contact the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate with responsibility for that person's location in Mexico.  For information on the ten U.S. consular districts in Mexico, complete with links to Embassy and Consulate websites, please consult the Mexico U.S. Consular District map.  The numbers provided below for the Embassy and Consulates are available around the clock.  The U.S. Embassy is located in Mexico City at Paseo de la Reforma 305, Colonia Cuauhtemoc, telephone from the United States: 011-52-55-5080-2000; telephone within Mexico City: 5080-2000; telephone long distance within Mexico 01-55-5080-2000. U.S. citizens may also contact the Embassy by e-mail

Consulates (with consular districts):

  • Ciudad Juarez (Chihuahua): Paseo de la Victoria 3650, telephone. (011)(52)(656) 227-3000.
  • Guadalajara (Nayarit, Jalisco, Aguas Calientes, and Colima): Progreso 175, telephone (011)(52)(333) 268-2100.
  • Hermosillo (Sinaloa and the southern part of the state of Sonora): Avenida Monterrey 141, telephone (011)(52)(662) 289-3500.
  • Matamoros (the southern part of Tamaulipas with the exception of the city of Tampico): Avenida Primera 2002, telephone (011)(52)(868) 812-4402.
  • Merida (Campeche, Yucatan, and Quintana Roo): Calle 60 no. 338-K x 29 y 31, Col. Alcala Martin, Merida, Yucatan, Mexico 97050, telephone (011)(52)(999) 942-5700 or 202-250-3711 (U.S. number).
  • Monterrey (Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, San Luis Potosi, and the southern part of Coahuila):Prolongacion Ave. Alfonso Reyes No. 150, Col. Valle Poniente, Santa Catarina, Nuevo Leon, 66196, telephone (011)(52)(818) 047-3100.
  • Nogales (the northern part of Sonora): Calle San Jose, Nogales, Sonora, telephone (011)(52)(631) 311-8150.
  • Nuevo Laredo (the northern part of Coahuila and the northwestern part of Tamaulipas): Calle Allende 3330, Col. Jardin, telephone (011)(52)(867) 714-0512.
  • Tijuana (Baja California Norte and Baja California Sur): Paseo de Las Culturas s/n Mesa de Otay, telephone (011) (52) (664) 977-2000.
  • All other Mexican states, the Federal District of Mexico City, and the city of Tampico, Tamaulipas, are part of the Embassy's consular district. 

Consular Agencies:

  • Acapulco: Hotel Emporio, Costera Miguel Aleman 121 – Suite 14, telephone (011)(52)(744) 481-0100 or (011)(52)(744) 484-0300.
  • Cancún: Blvd. Kukulcan Km 13 ZH Torre La Europea, Despacho 301 Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico C.P. 77500, telephone (011)(52)(998) 883-0272.
  • Los Cabos: Las Tiendas de Palmilla Local B221, Carretera Transpeninsular Km. 27.5, San José del Cabo, BCS, Mexico 23406 telephone, (624) 143-3566 Fax: (624) 143-6750.
  • Mazatlán: Playa Gaviotas #202, Zona Dorada, telephone (011)(52)(669) 916-5889.
  • Oaxaca: Macedonio Alcalá no. 407, interior 20, telephone (011)(52)(951) 514-3054, (011) (52)(951) 516-2853.
  • Piedras Negras: Abasolo #211, Zona Centro, Piedras Negras, Coah., telephone, (011)(52)(878) 782-5586.
  • Playa del Carmen: "The Palapa," Calle 1 Sur, between Avenida 15 and Avenida 20, telephone (011)(52)(984) 873-0303 or 202-370-6708(a U.S. number).
  • Puerto Vallarta: Paradise Plaza, Paseo de los Cocoteros #1, Local #4, Interior #17, Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit, telephone (011)(52)(322) 222-0069.
  • San Miguel de Allende: Centro Comercial La Luciernaga, Libramiento Manuel Zavala (Pepe KBZON), telephone (011)(52)(415) 152-2357.

16. Mauritania Travel Warning

Posted on 7 October 2014 | 7:39 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Mauritania, and urges those who travel to Mauritania to exercise extreme caution because of activities by terrorist groups in the region, including al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

AQIM continues to demonstrate its intent and ability to conduct attacks against foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens.  This replaces the travel warning for Mauritania, issued March 12, 2014, to update information on security incidents and remind travelers of security concerns.

The U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott recommends against all non-essential travel to the border regions of Guidimagha, the Hodh El Charghi and Hodh El Gharbi regions of southeastern Mauritania, the eastern half of the Assaba region (east of Kiffa), Tidjikja, the eastern half of the Tagant region (east of Tidjika), the eastern half of the Adrar region (east of chinguetti), and the Zemmour region of northern Mauritania because of the security risk and the threat of kidnapping posed by terrorist groups to foreign nationals.

The United States and the European Union have both declared AQIM a terrorist organization.  As a result of Western involvement in counterterrorism efforts, AQIM has declared its intention to attack Western targets.  AQIM attempts at retaliatory attacks against western targets of opportunity cannot be discounted.  AQIM-affiliated support systems for logistics and recruitment remain present in Mauritania. 

AQIM and terrorists believed to be affiliated with AQIM have been operating in Mauritania since at least 2005.  Actions include kidnapping and murder of western tourists, aid workers, and Mauritanian soldiers, as well as attacks on foreign diplomatic missions in Mauritania.  In June 2009, AQIM-affiliated operatives murdered a private U.S. citizen in the capital city of Nouakchott in an attempted kidnapping. 

Since then, AQIM has continued to threaten Westerners.  A French citizen was kidnapped in southwest Mali, near the border with Mauritania, in November 2012.  In the past, AQIM has also focused on gendarme military installations and personnel by conducting suicide bomber attacks, attempting car bombing, and kidnappings of a Mauritanian gendarme. 

As a result of safety and security concerns, some NGOs and private aid organizations withdrew staff and/or temporarily suspended operations in Mauritania.  The Peace Corps officially closed its program in July 2011.  Faith-based organizations operating in Mauritania, or individuals perceived to be proselytizing, may be particularly targeted. 

U.S. citizens should remain aware of their surroundings at all times and maintain good personal security practices, including always locking their homes and cars, varying routes and times of travel, and maintaining a low profile by not drawing attention to themselves.  When going out, they should avoid being part of large, highly visible groups of Westerners, and refrain from sitting in areas that are easily visible from the street when in restaurants or cafes.  U.S. citizens should be particularly alert when frequenting locales associated with Westerners, including grocery stores, hotels, cultural centers, social and recreation clubs, beach areas, and restaurants.  Additionally, U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and highly publicized events/venues with no visible security presence.

U.S. citizens driving in Mauritania are reminded to heed warnings to stop at security checkpoints, and should be particularly vigilant when traveling by road outside of populated areas, even when traveling along main routes and highways.  U.S. citizens should not venture outside urban areas unless in a convoy and accompanied by an experienced guide, and even then only if equipped with sturdy vehicles and ample provisions, including redundant communications, as well as vehicle and first aid/medical supplies.  Driving after dark outside of urban areas is strongly discouraged.  There have been reports of banditry and smuggling in the more remote parts of Mauritania.  Note also that landmines remain a danger along the border with the Western Sahara.  Travelers should cross borders only at designated border posts.

The U.S. embassy strongly encourages U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Mauritania despite this travel warning to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  By enrolling in STEP, you will receive the most up-to-date security information, and make it easier to contact you in an emergency.  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.

For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the department of state's Country Specific Information for Mauritania, the Worldwide Caution, and the International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet, which are located on the Department of State's website.  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 on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current travel warnings and travel alerts.  Follow us on Twitter and the bureau of consular affairs page on Facebook as well. 

The U.S. embassy is located between the presidency building and the Spanish Embassy on Rue Abdallaye.  The postal address is B.P. 222, Nouakchott, telephone (222) 4-525-2660/2663, 4-525-1141/1145, or 4-525-3038, and fax (222) 4-525-1592.  For after-hours emergencies, please call (222) 4-525-3288 or visit the U.S. Embassy Nouakchott web site.  In the event of an emergency that interrupts mobile phone (SMS) or internet communication in Mauritania, U.S. citizens may call the embassy's dedicated consular emergency recording at (222) 4-525-3701 to receive the most up-to-date instructions.

17. Yemen Travel Warning

Posted on 25 September 2014 | 2:24 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest.

The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on July 21, 2014. 

On September 24, 2014, the Department of State ordered a reduction of U.S. government personnel from Yemen out of an abundance of caution due to the continued civil unrest and the potential for military escalation. The Embassy’s ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services may be limited. Embassy officers are restricted in their movements and cannot travel outside of Sana’a. In addition, movements within Sana’a are severely constrained and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation.

The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high. The Embassy is subject to frequent unannounced closures.  In May 2014, the Embassy was closed for almost five weeks because of heightened security threats.

Demonstrations continue to take place in various parts of the country and may quickly escalate and turn violent. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise extreme caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration.

Terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Yemen. In the last year, international and local media have reported several kidnappings of Westerners. Violent crime is also a growing problem; local media reported the murder of two U.S. citizens in Taiz and Aden in 2013. In addition, piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean is a security threat to maritime activities in the region. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet.

U.S. government-facilitated evacuations 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 Yemen should ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times. For more information, see "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis" on the Department's Internet website. Evacuation options from Yemen are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns. The U.S. government typically evacuates U.S. citizens to a safe haven, and travelers are responsible for making their own onward travel plans. Travelers should not expect to be evacuated to the United States.

U.S. citizens remaining in Yemen despite this Travel Warning should limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, enroll their presence in Yemen through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information. If you wish to depart Yemen, you should make plans and depart as soon as possible. The airport is open and commercial flights are operating. There are no current plans for U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Yemen are responsible for making their own travel arrangements.

The U.S. Embassy in Sana'a is located at Dhahr Himyar Zone, Sheraton Hotel District, P.O. Box 22347. The telephone number of the Consular Section is (967)(1)755-2000, extension 2153 or 2266. For after-hours emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please call (967)(1)755-2000 (press zero for extension) or (967) 733-213-509. From time to time the Embassy may temporarily close or suspend public services for security reasons. Emergency assistance to U.S. citizens during non-business hours (or when public access is restricted) is available through Embassy duty personnel.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs website where the current Worldwide CautionTravel Alerts and Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information for Yemen can be found. 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 in other countries, by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review the Traveler's Checklist which includes valuable security information for those living and traveling abroad. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

18. Eritrea Travel Warning

Posted on 11 September 2014 | 9:12 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea and strongly recommends U.S. citizens not travel to the country since there is increasing possibility U.S. citizens will not receive the requisite exit permit from Eritrean authorities.

This replaces the Travel Warning for Eritrea of November 18, 2013 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 (who must apply 10 days in advance) for permission to travel 25 kilometers outside Asmara's city limits.  Permission is usually granted to areas such as Massawa and Keren, which are known tourist destinations; however, requests to areas near the borders and regions not frequently traveled by diplomats are typically turned down.  As a result, the U.S. Embassy cannot guarantee its ability to provide consular assistance outside of Asmara.

Travelers should also be aware that travel permits are only valid for the approved final destination and do not allow for additional stops along the way to, or in the proximity of, the approved destination.  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.

The Consular Section is aware that there have been incidents of Eritrean officials refusing to issue exit permits to U.S. passport holders even if they were born in the United States and entered Eritrea on visas issued by the Eritrea government. 

Eritrean-U.S. dual citizens may be at risk of arrest in Eritrea. Once arrested, detainees may be held for extended periods without being charged with a crime.  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, particularly 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.  U.S. citizens are cautioned to always carry appropriate documentation with them.  At times, armed persons may round up individuals who are not carrying documentation of their identity and military status.

Beginning in 2012, the Government of Eritrea began arming its citizens with automatic rifles to form citizen militias.  U.S. citizens are cautioned that these armed civilian militias patrol at night and are ordered to check individuals for documentation.  The U.S. Embassy warns U.S. citizens to use extreme caution when encountering armed citizens. 

The Eritrean government-controlled media frequently broadcast anti-U.S. rhetoric, and have done so repeatedly since December 2009, when the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) first imposed sanctions on Eritrea.  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 because of the presence of large numbers of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops along the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and the existing political and military tensions between the two countries.  In October 2013, riots broke out in Eritrean refugee camps close to the Eritrean-Ethiopian border during a memorial service dedicated to the victims of the October 3 Lampedusa boat sinking.  In March 2012, Ethiopian troops attacked three locations approximately 10 miles inside Eritrean territory, and 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 and Qatari troops are stationed along the border. 

U.S. citizens on ships and sailing vessels are strongly advised not to sail off the Eritrean coast nor to attempt to dock in Eritrean ports 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.  Additionally, fuel and provisions are often unavailable in Massawa and other parts of Eritrea, and are often scarce in the capital city of Asmara.

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 by the Eritrean government as recently as December 2013.  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 that future seizures may occur has not abated.  U.S. citizens are cautioned that commercial/tourist ships are not allowed to dock at some Eritrean ports, even to refuel.

In August 2011, three separate incidents of piracy were reported off the Eritrean coast near the Port of Assab.  High-speed skiffs with armed persons on board continue to attack merchant vessels.  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 have 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, killing five people and injuring 34.  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 border conflict with Ethiopia.  Visitors 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 to their point of origin.  However, the Embassy is aware of persons being jailed for several months after arriving without visas.  The Embassy urges all U.S.-Eritrean dual citizens to obtain Eritrean visas in their U.S. passports before traveling to Eritrea and to enter the country as U.S. citizens.  The Embassy is aware of numerous cases where U.S. citizens entering Eritrea on passports of their other nationality have been detained and not permitted to leave the country.  U.S.-Eritrean dual citizens who enter Eritrea with an Eritrean ID card may find it difficult to obtain the required visa to exit the country legally.  Traveling to Eritrea even with a valid entry visa in a U.S. passport does not guarantee entry.  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 widespread but often lack power.  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 urges 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 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.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Eritrea, the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts and the Worldwide Caution, as well as the International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  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 on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.

19. Israel, The West Bank and Gaza Travel Warning

Posted on 10 September 2014 | 2:27 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza due to the complex security environment there and the potential for violence and renewed hostilities.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning issued on July 21, 2014.  

The Department of State continues its longstanding strong warning to U.S. citizens against travel to the Gaza Strip; the U.S. government does not permit employees to conduct official or personal travel there. Please see the section below on the situation in the Gaza Strip.  Additionally, U.S government officials may only travel to designated parts of the West Bank for personal travel.  Please see the section below on the West Bank. 

During the recent conflict between Israel and terrorist organizations in Gaza, long-range rockets launched from Gaza reached many locations in Israel and the West Bank – including Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and other cities in the north and south. A ceasefire was announced on August 26 and, as of the date of this Travel Warning, is holding. The Government of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system has successfully intercepted many rockets. However, in some cases missile impacts caused damage and injuries. U.S. citizen visitors to and U.S. citizen residents of Israel and the West Bank should familiarize themselves with the location of the nearest bomb shelter or other hardened site.  Consult municipality websites, such as those for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, for lists of public bomb shelters and other emergency preparedness information. Visitors should seek information on shelters from hotel staff or building managers. We advise all U.S. citizens to follow the instructions of the Home Front Command on proper procedures in the event of rocket attacks or other crisis events.

Ben Gurion Airport is open and commercial flights are operating normally, although delays and cancellations can occur. Travelers should check with their airline prior to their planned travel to verify the flight schedule. Other border crossings are generally operating as normal; however, travelers should check the status of crossings before embarking on trips. 

U.S. citizens seeking to depart Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. U.S. government-facilitated evacuations occur only when no viable commercial alternatives exist. 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 or Consulate General's ability to provide assistance. 

U.S. citizens who do travel to or remain in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza should take into consideration the rules governing travel by U.S. government employees: 

  • U.S. government personnel are not permitted to conduct official or personal travel to the Gaza Strip; 
  • U.S. government personnel are restricted from conducting personal travel to most parts of the West Bank (see below for details); travel for official business is done with special security arrangements coordinated by the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem;
  • Because of the security situation, travel restrictions remain in effect for southern Israel, including Be’er Sheeva and areas south of Be’er Sheeva.  
  • All travel south of Ashdod remains prohibited for embassy employees and their families.
  • U.S. government personnel are not permitted to travel east of Route 90 without advance approval;
  • U.S. government personnel are not permitted to travel east of the Jordan River or east of Route 92 in the Golan area (although Route 92 itself is permitted if approved in advance);
  • Because of the security situation, U.S. government personnel are required to obtain approval to travel to all areas of southern Israel located south of Be’er Sheeva.  

View a map of the Golan area.

Major Metropolitan Areas in Israel

Personal safety conditions in major metropolitan areas, including Tel Aviv and Haifa and their surrounding regions, are comparable to or better than those in other major global cities. Please see below for specific information regarding Jerusalem. Visitors should observe appropriate personal security practices to reduce their vulnerability to crime, particularly late at night or in isolated or economically depressed areas, including in the countryside. Visitors are advised to avoid large gatherings or demonstrations and keep current with local news, which is available through numerous English language sources. 

The Government of Israel has had a long-standing policy of issuing gas masks to its citizens and, starting in 2010, it began issuing replacement masks. It stopped this distribution process in early 2014 in response to regional events. Visitors and foreign residents in Israel are not issued masks and must individually procure them, if desired. The U.S. Embassy and Consulate General do not provide gas masks for persons who are not U.S. government employees or their dependents. For further emergency preparedness guidance, please visit the website of the Government of Israel's Home Front Command, which provides information on how to choose a secure space in a home or apartment, as well as a list of the types of protective kits (gas masks) issued by the Government of Israel to its citizens. 

Gaza Vicinity

The Department of State recommends against travel to areas of Israel in the vicinity of the Gaza Strip.  Travelers should be aware of the risks presented by the potential for military conflict between Hamas and Israel. In July 2014, Israel conducted ground operations in Gaza. Travelers in the regions immediately bordering Gaza may encounter small arms fire, anti-tank weapons, rockets, and mortars launched from inside Gaza toward Israeli cities and towns. These attacks can come with little or no warning. Visitors to these areas should remain aware of their surroundings and of the location of bomb shelters and should take note of announcements and guidance provided by the Home Front Command.   

U.S. government personnel are required to obtain approval for travel south of Ashdod, and other areas in immediate proximity to the Gaza Strip. Visitors to these areas should remain aware of their surroundings and should take note of announcements and guidance provided by the Israeli Home Front Command.

Travelers should also be aware of the heightened state of alert maintained by Israeli authorities along Israel's border with Egypt. There have been cross-border incidents from Egypt, including rocket attacks and ground incursions, such as an attack that took place in August 2013 and one on January 20, 2014. Rockets were fired from Sinai in the direction of Eilat on July 15, 2014.   

Northern Israel 

Rocket attacks into Israel from Lebanon have occurred without warning along the Israeli-Lebanese border. Tensions have increased along portions of the Disengagement Zone with Syria in the Golan Heights as a result of the internal conflict occurring in Syria. Sporadic gunfire has occurred along the border region. There have been several incidents of mortar shells and light arms fire impacting on the Israeli-controlled side of the zone as a result of spillover from the fighting in Syria. Travelers should be aware that cross-border gunfire can occur without warning. Furthermore, there are active land mines in areas of the Golan Heights, so visitors should walk only on established roads or trails. The Syrian conflict is sporadic and unpredictable. U.S. government personnel who wish to travel east of Route 90 require advance approval. In addition, personal travel for U.S. government officials is not permitted east of the Jordan River or east of Route 92 in the Golan area, although Route 92 itself is permitted with advance approval.

Jerusalem 

U.S. citizens visiting and living in Jerusalem should be aware of the numerous political, cultural, and religious tensions that permeate the city. These sensitivities have the potential to fuel protest-related activities, clashes, and civil unrest. Protest activities have occurred within the Old City and areas around Salah Ed-Din Street, Damascus Gate, Silwan, and the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods. Recently, demonstrations and clashes have occurred in several East Jerusalem areas, such as Shufat, Beit Hanina, Mt. of Olives, As Suwaneh, Abu Deis, Silwan, Shuafat Refugee Camp, inside the Old City (near Lions Gate), Issawiyeh, and Tsur Baher. Such events have recently resulted in violence between protesters and Israeli National Police (INP). The intensity of these violent clashes appears to have diminished, although the possibility of renewed clashes remains, mainly during evening hours. The INP continues to deploy a heavy presence in many of the neighborhoods that have seen clashes and may restrict vehicular traffic to some of these neighborhoods without notice. The clashes and demonstrations have not been anti-American in nature to date, but U.S. citizens are advised not to enter any neighborhoods restricted by the INP and to avoid any locations with active clashes. Since June 2014, Jerusalem has seen a marked increase in random violent activities. These random acts of violence have not been anti-American in nature, yet underscore the sometimes volatile nature of the current local security environment.    

Travelers are reminded to exercise caution at Muslim religious sites on Fridays and on holy days, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. There has recently been an increased police presence near the Damascus Gate, particularly on Fridays. The INP often imposes restrictions on visitors to the Old City’s Temple Mount/ Haram al-Sharif. Travelers should be aware that the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif is often closed without warning by the INP. Additionally, sporadic demonstrations can lead to violent clashes. U.S. government employees are prohibited from entering the Old City on Fridays during Ramadan due to congestion and security-related access restrictions.

U.S. citizens are advised to avoid open air public parks after dark as they are poorly lit and policed. There have been numerous reports received of after dark criminal activity associated with these parks. 

While U.S. government employees are authorized to use the light rail system in Jerusalem, there has been an increase in individuals throwing stones at light rail trains, particularly near Shufat and along the northern end of the route. 

The West Bank

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling to the West Bank. In June 2014, three Israeli teenagers, including a dual U.S. citizen, were kidnapped and murdered after attempting to hitchhike near Hebron. Demonstrations and violent incidents can occur without warning, and vehicles are regularly targeted by rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire on West Bank roads. U.S citizens have been killed in such attacks. There have also been an increasing number of violent incidents involving Israeli settlers and Palestinian villagers in the corridor stretching from Ramallah to Nablus, including attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinian villages in which U.S. citizens have suffered injury or property damage, and attacks by Palestinians on settlements. U.S. citizens can be caught in the middle of potentially dangerous situations, and some U.S. citizens involved in political demonstrations in the West Bank have sustained serious injuries. The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all demonstrations for their own safety. During periods of unrest, the Israeli Government may restrict access to the West Bank, and some areas may be placed under curfew. All persons in areas under curfew should remain indoors to avoid arrest or injury. Security conditions in the West Bank may hinder the ability of consular staff to offer timely assistance to U.S. citizens. 

Personal travel in the West Bank by U.S. government personnel and their families is permitted to the towns of Bethlehem and Jericho and on Routes 1, 443, and 90. The Rachel’s Tomb checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem has recently seen an increase in public demonstrations, which have the potential to become violent. U.S. government officials may also engage in personal travel to Qumran off Route 90 by the Dead Sea and to the Allenby Bridge crossing to Jordan, as well as stops at roadside facilities along Routes 1 and 90. All other personal travel by U.S. government personnel in the West Bank is prohibited. U.S. government personnel routinely travel to the West Bank for official business, but do so with special security arrangements.

The Gaza Strip

The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Gaza Strip, which is under the control of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization. U.S. citizens in Gaza are advised to depart immediately. The security environment within Gaza, including its border with Egypt and its seacoast, is dangerous and volatile. Exchanges of fire between the Israel Defense Forces and militant groups in Gaza take place regularly, and civilians have been caught in the crossfire in the past. Although the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt normally allows for some passenger travel, prior coordination with local authorities - which could take days or weeks to process - may be required, and crossing points may be closed for days or weeks. Travelers who enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing must also exit through the Rafah crossing, and those entering the Gaza Strip may not be able to depart at a time of their choosing. Many U.S. citizens have been unable to exit Gaza or faced lengthy delays in doing so. Furthermore, the schedule and requirements for exiting through the Rafah crossing are unpredictable and can involve significant expense. Because U.S. citizen employees of the U.S. government are not allowed to enter the Gaza Strip or have contact with Hamas, the ability of consular staff to offer timely assistance to U.S. citizens, including assistance departing Gaza, is extremely limited. The Consulate General and Embassy do not generally assist U.S. citizens to exit Gaza via the Erez crossing to Israel. U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Gaza cannot rely on the U.S. government to assist them in departing Gaza. 

Entry/Exit Difficulties

Some U.S. citizens holding Israeli nationality, possessing a Palestinian identity card, or who are of Arab or Muslim origin have experienced significant difficulties in entering or exiting Israel or the West Bank. U.S. citizens planning to travel to Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza should consult the detailed information concerning entry and exit difficulties in the Country Specific Information.  

Contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy for information and assistance in Israel, the Golan Heights, and ports of entry at Ben Gurion Airport, Haifa Port, the northern (Jordan River/Sheikh Hussein) and southern (Arava) border crossings connecting Israel and Jordan, and the border crossings between Israel and Egypt. An embassy officer can be contacted at (972) (3) 519-7575 from Monday through Friday during working hours. The after-hours emergency number is (972) (3) 519-7551.

Contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem for information and assistance in Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Allenby/King Hussein Bridge crossing between the West Bank and Jordan, at (972) (2) 630-4000 from Monday through Friday during working hours. The after-hours emergency number is (972) (2) 622-7250.

For More Information 

The Department of State urges those U.S. citizens who live in or travel to Israel, the West Bank or Gaza to enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to obtain the most current information on travel and security within Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.  Enrollment in STEP makes it easier for the Embassy or Consulate General to contact U.S. citizens in case of emergency.  

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 at www.travel.state.gov

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Internet website where the Worldwide Caution,  Country Specific Information for Israel, the West Bank and GazaTravel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found, including the current Travel Warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.  You can also follow the Bureau of Consular Affairs on Twitter and on Facebook.  Up-to-date information on security conditions can also be accessed at http://israel.usembassy.govhttp://jerusalem.usconsulate.gov or on the Embassy and Consulate General Facebook pages. 

Up-to-date information on travel and security in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside of 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).   

20. Afghanistan Travel Warning

Posted on 5 September 2014 | 6:55 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Afghanistan.

The security situation in Afghanistan is extremely unstable, and the threat to all U.S. citizens in Afghanistan remains critical.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Afghanistan issued on February 20, 2014.

No province in Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence and crime, and the strong possibility exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other foreign nationals at any time.  Elements of the former Taliban regime and members of other terrorist organizations hostile to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and foreign nationals remain active in every province of the country.  Furthermore, travel to all areas of Afghanistan remains unsafe due to ongoing military combat operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry between political and tribal groups, and the possibility of insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices.  The threat situation in Afghanistan is still considered critical and is expected to remain so through the current political and military transition.

There is an ongoing and serious risk throughout the country of injury and death to U.S. citizens, including those with protective security details or with Afghan and coalition security forces nearby.  In March 2014, four insurgents armed with small arms infiltrated and attacked the Serena Hotel, killing ten civilians including four foreigners, one of whom was a U.S. citizen. Also in March 2014, a suicide bomber and three insurgents attacked the compound of an international non-government organization, killing two Afghan citizens and wounding another ten. On April 24, an Afghan guard at Cure Hospital killed three U.S. doctors and wounded another U.S. doctor and nurse.

Despite numerous security operations and checkpoints by Afghan and coalition forces in and around the city, Kabul remains at high risk for militant attacks, including vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED), direct and indirect fire, and suicide bombings.  Buildings or compounds that lack robust security measures in comparison to neighbouring facilities may be viewed as targets of opportunity by insurgents.  Twice in March 2014, groups of insurgents attacked the office complex of Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission with person-borne improvised devices, rocket propelled grenades, and small arms killing two Afghan policemen and three civilians, and wounding five others. On July 17, 2014, a group of insurgents detonated a VBIED and occupied a building north of Kabul International Airport, targeting the airport with small arms and rocket-propelled grenades.

Proximity to or presence in areas and facilities under coalition force or U.S. government control is no guarantee of safety and should not lull U.S. citizens residing in or visiting Kabul into a false sense of security. On July 22, 2014, a suicide bomber attacked a U.S. base near the Kabul International Airport, killing six guards and wounding ten. On August 6, a lone gunman opened fire on a group of high-level military officers inspecting Marshal Fahim National Defense University, killing a U.S. two-star General and wounding twelve others, which included U.S. citizens. On August 20, an assailant stabbed a U.S. soldier to death near Kabul International Airport.

Riots and incidents of civil disturbance can occur in Afghanistan, often without warning.  U.S. citizens should avoid all rallies and demonstrations.  Protests intended as peaceful can become confrontational and escalate into violence at any point.  The size of these demonstrations has ranged from as small as 50 to as large as 2,500 people.  The issues that typically prompt demonstrations include grievances against the government and coalition forces, as well as spontaneous, public expressions of social, political, and ethnic tensions. 

Ambushes, kidnappings, robberies, and violent crime can add to the insecurity in many areas of the country.  U.S. citizens representing various foreign interests in property or contract disputes -- a common problem for U.S. and foreign companies doing business in Afghanistan -- have reported that local counterparties to the disputes have threatened their lives or held them or their employees captive under extrajudicial conditions while awaiting payouts or intervention by local authorities.  U.S. citizens who find themselves in such situations should not assume that local law enforcement or the U.S. Embassy will assist them in resolving such disputes or intervene on their behalf with Afghan officials.

The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. government personnel in Afghanistan sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions.  All locations outside the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities are considered off limits to Embassy personnel unless there is a compelling government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk.  In addition, the internal security policies of the U.S. Embassy may be changed or adjusted at any time and without advance notice.  Periodically, the Embassy will restrict or prohibit movements by its personnel, often on short notice and for reasons such as terrorist attacks, security threats, or demonstrations.  Potential target areas include key national or international government establishments, international organizations, universities, and locations frequented by the expatriate community, such as restaurants, hotels, and guesthouses. 

The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is limited, particularly for those persons outside of Kabul.  U.S. citizens who choose to visit or remain in Afghanistan despite this Travel Warning are encouraged to monitor the Embassy’s website and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to obtain the most current information on travel and security within Afghanistan.  Enrollment in STEP makes it easier for the Embassy to contact U.S. citizens in case of emergency.  U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy.

U.S. government-facilitated evacuations occur only when no safe, commercial alternatives exist. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveller must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs. The lack of a valid U.S. passport and Afghan visa may hinder a U.S. citizen’s ability to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy's ability to assist.  U.S. citizens in Afghanistan should ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times. Evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns.  The U.S. government typically evacuates U.S. citizens to a safe haven, and travellers are responsible for making their own onward travel plans.  U.S. citizens should not expect to be evacuated to the United States and should always maintain medevac insurance while living or traveling abroad in case they need emergency medical evacuation back to the United States, which can be a significant expense.  For more information, see "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul is located at Great Massoud Road (also known as Bibi Mahru or Airport Road) between Radio Television Afghanistan (RTA) and the Ministry of Public Health.  The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy can be reached at 301-490-1042, ext. 8499, from the United States or +93(0) 700-108-499 from abroad during business hours, Sunday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Kabul time.  For after-hours, truly exigent emergencies involving U.S. citizens, please contact the Embassy Duty Officer at +93-(0)700-108-001.  Any routine consular correspondence relating to services for U.S. citizens may be sent to KabulACS@state.gov.

The U.S. Embassy often receives threat information concerning U.S. citizens and interests in Afghanistan.  For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State’s Consular Affairs’ website where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information for Afghanistan can be found.  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 in other countries, by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review the Traveler's Checklist, which includes valuable security information for those living or traveling abroad.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

21. Ukraine Travel Warning

Posted on 29 August 2014 | 4:29 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to eastern Ukraine due to ongoing violent clashes between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In addition, Russian military forces continue to occupy the Crimean Peninsula and are present on the eastern border of Ukraine.This supersedes the Travel Warning for Ukraine dated August 1 to provide updated information on the security situation in southern and eastern Ukraine.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.  Russia-backed separatists continue to control areas in the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.  These groups have established illegal checkpoints and have threatened, detained, or kidnapped individuals, including U.S. citizens, for hours or days.  The Ukrainian armed forces have launched an operation to reclaim these areas.  Violent clashes between the Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces have escalated over the past month and have resulted in hundreds of injuries and deaths.  Some of these clashes have included the use of armored vehicles, aircraft, and other military weapons including surface to air missiles, the use of which was responsible for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on July 17.  Widespread disorder and looting has been confirmed in areas controlled by Russia-backed separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts.  These Russian-supported groups have taken on a more strident anti-American tone, especially in eastern Ukraine and Crimea.  U.S. citizens who choose to remain in conflict areas should maintain a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings.

The Department of State also warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula, and to exercise caution in the regions of Odesa, Kharkhiv, Zaporizhia and Kherson.  Russian forces have occupied the Crimean Peninsula in support of the Russian Federation's attempted annexation of Crimea and these forces are likely to continue to take further actions in the Crimean Peninsula consistent with Russia's continuing occupation of this part of Ukraine.  The international community, including the United States and Ukraine, does not recognize this purported annexation.  The Russian Federation maintains an extensive military presence in Crimea and along the border of eastern Ukraine.  In addition, there are continuing reports of abuses against the local population by de facto authorities in Crimea, particularly against those who are seen as challenging the current status quo on the peninsula

The situation in Ukraine is unpredictable and could change quickly.  U.S. citizens throughout Ukraine should avoid large crowds and be prepared to remain indoors and shelter in place for extended periods of time should clashes occur in their vicinity.

Peace Corps Volunteers departed Ukraine on February 25, and remain out of the country at this time.  U.S. Embassy Kyiv's Consular Section is open for all public services; however, in light of the ongoing unrest, the Embassy has severely restricted the travel of U.S. Government personnel to areas in eastern Ukraine and the Crimean Peninsula, and occasionally limits travel to other adjacent regions.  As a result, the Embassy's ability to respond to emergencies involving U.S. citizens in eastern Ukraine and Ukraine's Crimean region is extremely limited. 

Ground transportation may be disrupted throughout the country.  Drivers may encounter roadblocks that restrict access on certain roads.  Following the downing of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) to prohibit all U.S. flight operations within Dnipropetrovsk Flight Information Regions.  This expanded the FAA’s previous NOTAM restricting U.S. flight operations within the Simferopol Flight Information Region, which remains in place.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Ukraine are strongly encouraged to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel updates and to obtain updated information on security within Ukraine.  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

For inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Ukraine related to the current unrest, please call 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, or email the Department of State at UkraineEmergencyUSC@state.gov.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  For emergency assistance for U.S. citizens in Ukraine, you may contact the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv at +380-44-521-5566 during regular business hours, or after-hours at +380-44-521-5000.  The U.S. Embassy is located at 4 A.I. Sikorsky St. (formerly Tankova) in Kyiv.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information can be found.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook  as well.  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 Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

22. Sierra Leone Travel Warning

Posted on 14 August 2014 | 7:16 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to Sierra Leone.

After review of health conditions and limited availability of medical evacuation options, the U.S. Department of State ordered the departure of family members residing with Embassy staff in Freetown to begin August 14, 2014.  U.S. government employees in Freetown will remain on active duty at the Embassy.

As of August 11, there have been 759 confirmed cases and 293 confirmed deaths due to an outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Sierra Leone. The outbreak of EVD has overwhelmed Sierra Leone’s health system due to the lack of sufficient staff and/or resources to address the continuing transmission of EVD.  Options for obtaining routine medical care are severely limited.  In addition, most medical evacuation companies have suspended service to Ebola-affected countries and several airlines have suspended service to Freetown.  This severely limits options for medical evacuation in the case of EVD and non-EVD medical cases.  For more information concerning EVD, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  Please direct inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Sierra Leone to EbolaEmergencyUSC@state.gov. Callers in the United States and Canada may dial the toll free number 1-888-407-4747.  Callers outside the United States and Canada may dial 1-202-501-4444.

If you arrive in Sierra Leone and subsequently need routine or emergency medical care, you should expect limited, if any, options.  Travelers are advised that air carriers chartered by medical evacuation insurance companies are unable to reliably provide timely services in Sierra Leone or the region, and local ambulance services for transport to the airport are essentially unavailable.  Policyholders should confirm the availability of medical evacuation services prior to travel.  While commercial flights are still available from Sierra Leone, some airlines have discontinued service and flights may become more difficult to obtain.  If you plan to visit Sierra Leone despite this warning, you should purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation, and confirm under what circumstances coverage applies to Sierra Leone.

The Department of State urges those U.S. citizens who decide to travel to or remain in Sierra Leone despite this Travel Warning to provide their current contact information through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Sierra Leone.  For additional information, refer to the Traveler's Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Check U.S. Embassy Freetown’s website for up-to-date messages to U.S. citizens.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 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).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips. 

U.S. Embassy Freetown is located at Southridge, Hill Station, in Freetown.  Telephone: +232 (0)76-515-000.  Emergency after- hours telephone: +232 (0)76-912-708.

23. Algeria Travel Warning

Posted on 13 August 2014 | 8:25 pm
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Algeria.

This replaces the Travel Warning for Algeria dated February 6, 2014, to update information on the current security situation in Algeria, the continuing threat posed by terrorism, and to reiterate information on security incidents and recommendations on security awareness.  

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens who travel to Algeria to evaluate carefully the risks posed to their personal safety.  There is a high threat of terrorism and kidnappings in Algeria.  This kidnapping threat was noted in the Department of State's latest Worldwide Caution.  Although the major cities are heavily policed, attacks could still potentially take place.  The majority of terrorist attacks, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes occur in areas of the country east and south of Algiers.

Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) are both active in and operate throughout Algeria.  In January 2013, an AQIM-linked organization “Those Who Sign in Blood”, led by Moktar Belmoktar, attacked a gas production facility near In Amenas, Algeria.  The group held dozens of western and Algerian hostages for four days; this attack resulted in the deaths of dozens of hostages, including three U.S. citizens.  Mokhtar Belmokhtar remains a threat and is at large in the region.

Algerian and Tunisian security forces are conducting ongoing security operations along the Algeria/Tunisia border in the Chaambi mountains area, south of Souk Ahras.  There is a threat in this area due to the presence of extremists.

The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid overland travel in Algeria.  U.S. citizens who reside in or travel to Algeria should take personal security measures to include stocking adequate reserves of medicine, food, and water for use during an emergency.  Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have been known to occur, such as the riots in Algiers and many other cities.  U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds and demonstrations because even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can become violent and unpredictable.  U.S. citizens should be alert and aware of their surroundings and maintain security awareness at all times.  U.S. citizens should regularly monitor the local news media for current news and information.

Visitors to Algeria are advised to stay only in hotels where adequate security is provided.  All visitors to Algeria should remain alert, avoid predictable travel patterns, and maintain a low profile.  U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies of all kinds.  Most political gatherings are peaceful but can turn violent without notice.  Dual U.S./Algerian citizens should be aware that while they are in Algeria, they will be treated as Algerian citizens by host country authorities.

The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. Embassy personnel assigned to Algiers sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under significant security restrictions.  These practices limit, and may occasionally prevent, the movement of U.S. Embassy officials and the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country.  The Government of Algeria requires U.S. Embassy personnel to seek permission to travel outside the city limits of Algiers and to have a security escort.  Travel to the military zone established around the Hassi Messaoud oil center requires Government of Algeria authorization.  Daily movement of Embassy personnel in parts of Algiers is limited, and prudent security practices are required at all times.  Travel by Embassy personnel within certain areas of the city requires coordination with the U.S. Embassy's Regional Security Office.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Algeria are encouraged to enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive the latest travel updates and to obtain updated information on security within Algeria.  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 living abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts and Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information can be found.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on facebook as well. 

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 Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy is located at 5 Chemin Cheikh Bachir El-Ibrahimi in the El Biar district of Algiers, and can be reached by telephone at (213) 770 08 20 00.  The fax is {213} 21 98 22 99.  The consular section email is ACSAlgiers@state.gov

24. Iraq Travel Warning

Posted on 10 August 2014 | 2:46 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq.

Travel within Iraq remains dangerous given the security situation. The Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil remain open and operating, but the Department of State has relocated a limited number of staff members from the Embassy in Baghdad and the Consulate General in Erbil to the Consulate General in Basrah and the Iraq Support Unit in Amman. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated August 8, 2014, to note the departure of some staff from the Consulate General in Erbil. The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations in which U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.

U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence.  Methods of attack have included roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including explosively formed penetrators (EFPs); magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles; human and vehicle-borne IEDs; mines placed on or concealed near roads; mortars and rockets; and shootings using various direct fire weapons.  These and other attacks frequently occur in public gathering places, such as cafes, markets and other public venues.

Numerous insurgent groups, including ISIL, previously known as al-Qa’ida in Iraq, remain active and terrorist activity and violence persist in many areas of the country.  ISIL and its allies control Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, and have captured significant territory across central Iraq and continue to engage with Iraqi security forces in that region.  In early August, the threat to the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) increased considerably with the advance of ISIL towards Kurdish areas. 

Due to the potential of political protests and demonstrations to become violent, U.S. citizens in Iraq are strongly urged to avoid protests and large gatherings. 

The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines.  All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Chief of Mission must follow strict safety and security procedures when traveling outside the Embassy.  State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details.  Detailed security information is available at the U.S. Embassy website.

The U.S. Embassy is located in the International Zone (IZ) in Baghdad.  The IZ is a restricted access area.  Iraqi authorities are responsible for control of the IZ.  Travelers to the IZ should be aware that Iraqi authorities may require special identification to enter the IZ or may issue IZ-specific access badges.  Individuals residing and traveling within the IZ should continue to exercise good personal safety precautions.

Increasingly, many U.S. and third-country business people travel throughout much of Iraq; however, they do so under restricted movement conditions and often with security advisors and protective security teams.

The Government of Iraq strictly enforces requirements regarding visas and stamps for entry and exit, vehicle registration, authorizations for weapons, and movements through checkpoints.  The Embassy highly recommends that all U.S. citizens in Iraq carefully review the status of their travel documents and any necessary licenses and government authorizations to ensure that they are current and valid.  U.S. citizens are urged to immediately correct any deficiencies in their travel documents.  U.S. citizens are strongly advised against traveling throughout the country with deficient or invalid documents.  For more information about entry/exit requirements for U.S. citizens, please see our Country Specific Information page for Iraq.

U.S. citizens should avoid areas near the Syrian, Turkish, or Iranian borders, which are especially dangerous and not always clearly defined.  The Governments of Turkey and Iran continue to carry out military operations against insurgent groups in the mountain regions bordering Iraq.  These operations have included troop movements and both aerial and artillery bombardments.  Extensive unmarked minefields also remain along these borders.  Border skirmishes with smugglers have become commonplace.  Unrest in Syria has resulted in large numbers of people seeking refuge in the area. Iranian authorities previously detained, for an extended period, U.S. citizens who were hiking in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) in the vicinity of the Iranian border.  The resources available to the U.S. Embassy to assist U.S. citizens who venture close to or cross the border with Iran are extremely limited. The Department of State discourages travel in close proximity to the Iranian border.

The ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services to U.S. citizens throughout Iraq, including Baghdad, is particularly limited given the security environment.  The U.S. Consulates in Basrah and Kirkuk cannot provide routine services such as passport applications, extra visa pages, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad.  U.S. citizens in need of these services in Erbil must make an appointment with the Consulate on-line, either through the Embassy’s website or the website for the Consulate in Erbil.  The Embassy'swebsite includes consular information and the most recent messages to U.S. citizens in Iraq.  U.S. citizens in Iraq who need emergency assistance should call 0770-443-1286 or0770-030-4888.

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).

U.S. citizens who choose to visit or reside in Iraq despite this Travel Warning are urged to take responsibility for their own personal security and belongings (including their U.S. passports) and to avoid crowds, especially rallies or demonstrations.  U.S. citizens who choose to travel in Iraq should be aware that Iraqi authorities have arrested or detained U.S. citizens whose purpose of travel is not readily apparent.  Persons also have been detained for taking photographs of buildings, monuments, or other sites, especially in the IZ in Baghdad.

All U.S. citizens in Iraq, including those working on contract for the U.S. government, are urged to inform the U.S. Embassy of their presence in Iraq by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to obtain updated travel information.  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to provide updated security information or to contact them in emergencies.  The Embassy also offers SMS text alerts delivered to your mobile phone when new security and emergency messages are released.

U.S. citizens may obtain the latest security information or other information about Iraq by contacting the U.S. Embassy, located in the International Zone, via email, or by accessing U.S. Embassy Baghdad's website.  The after-hours emergency numbers are 011-964-770-443-1286 or 011-964-770-030-4888 (from the United States) or 0770-443-1286 or 0770-030-4888 (within Iraq).  As cell phone service is unreliable in Iraq, emergency calls may also be placed through the Department of State at 1-888-407-4747

Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains 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.

25. Saudi Arabia Travel Warning

Posted on 8 August 2014 | 7:58 pm
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia.

Recent developments include an attack by members of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on a border checkpoint along the Saudi-Yemeni border on July 4, 2014, and increased media reports of threats to Saudi infrastructure and U.S. installations in the Kingdom. This replaces the Travel Warning issued February 11, 2014, to update information on the current security situation in Saudi Arabia and the continuing threat posed by terrorism, and to reiterate recommendations on security awareness. 

The last major terrorist attack against foreign nationals occurred in 2007, but security threats are ongoing and terrorist groups, some affiliated with al-Qaida, may target both Saudi and Western interests. Possible targets include housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas and other facilities where Westerners congregate, as well as Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom.

On July 5, 2014, media reported that members of Al-Qaida attacked a border checkpoint between Yemen and Saudi Arabia on July 4, leading to the deaths of several of the attackers, as well as four members of the Saudi security forces.  The rugged border area dividing Yemen and Saudi Arabia remains porous in some areas and portions are not clearly defined.  U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling within 50 miles of the border, which includes the cities of Jizan and Najran, without permission from Embassy security officials.  Visitors, who choose to travel to these areas despite U.S. government concern, should be aware that terrorist and criminal elements may be operating there, including AQAP.  U.S. citizens are strongly urged to read the Department of State Travel Warning for Yemen before traveling to areas near the Yemeni frontier.

On the night of January 13, 2014, unknown gunmen attacked the vehicle of two German Embassy officials who were traveling through the Awamiyah section of the al-Qatif Governate in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.  The motivation for the attack is unknown.  U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to Awamiyah, and we recommend private U.S. citizens avoid the area as well.

U.S. citizens in Saudi Arabia are strongly encouraged to select hotels or housing compounds with careful attention to security measures and location.  U.S. citizens should be aware of their surroundings at all times and are advised to keep a low profile; vary times and routes of travel; exercise caution while driving, and entering or exiting vehicles; and ensure that travel documents and visas are current and valid.

If the security threat changes or specific threats affecting U.S. citizens are discovered, this information will be made available through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) and U.S. Mission websites. Emergency Messages, Security Messages, and Messages for U.S. Citizens can be found on the U.S. Embassy Riyadh website.

The Department of State encourages U.S. citizens living overseas or planning to travel abroad 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.  U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh or the Consulates General in Dhahran or Jeddah.  

U.S. Embassy Riyadh
Telephone: (966) (11) 488-3800
Fax: (966) (11) 483-0773
Emergency after-hours telephone: (966) (11) 488-3800

U.S. Consulate General Dhahran
Telephone: (966) (13) 330-3200
Fax: (966) (13) 330-0464
Emergency after-hours telephone: (966) (13) 330-3200, x3004

U.S. Consulate General Jeddah
Telephone: (966) (12) 667-0080
Fax: (966) (12) 669-3098
Emergency after-hours telephone: (966) (12) 667-0080

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 from other countries, 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).

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.

26. Pakistan Travel Warning

Posted on 8 August 2014 | 2:44 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all non-essential travel to Pakistan.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated February 5, 2014, to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns in Pakistan.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and the U.S. Consulate General in Karachi continue to provide consular services for all U.S. citizens in Pakistan. The U.S. Consulate General in Peshawar no longer offers consular services and the U.S. Consulate General in Lahore is still temporarily closed for public services. 

The presence of several foreign and indigenous terrorist groups poses a 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 and airports. 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.

RECENT ATTACKS

There have been many terrorist attacks in recent years targeting civilians and security personnel. On June 24, gunmen fired on an international flight during landing at Peshawar’s International Airport, killing one passenger and injuring two flight attendants. On June 8, a terrorist attack over the course of nearly two days on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport killed 19 people. On April 9, a bomb detonated at a fruit and vegetable market in Islamabad, killing 24 people and injuring 116. On March 3, a bomb and firearm attack on a courthouse in Islamabad killed 11 people. In 2013, there were 355 distinct terror incidents throughout Pakistan. On September 22, 2013, a suicide bomb attack outside of a Peshawar church killed 119 people. On July 6, 2013, a bomb exploded in a restaurant in a business district of Lahore, killing at least five people and injuring nearly 50. On June 23, 2013, 11 foreign nationals, including one U.S. citizen, were murdered in an attack on a Nanga Parbat mountain base camp in the northern area of Gilgit-Baltistan. On June 15, 2013, a suicide bomber detonated at a women’s university in Quetta, killing 14 students; attackers later struck the hospital where victims were taken, killing at least 11 more people. On March 3, 2013, a bomb attack in a predominately Shiite area of Karachi destroyed several buildings and killed over 50 people. 

 
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. Places of worship have frequently been targeted for attack by terrorists. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from attending services at places of worship in Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar, and outside of the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad without prior approval. 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 within Pakistan is often 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 is permitted at times 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. Official visitors are not authorized to stay overnight in local hotels. Depending on ongoing security assessments, the U.S. Mission sometimes places areas such as hotels, markets, and restaurants off-limits to official personnel. U.S. officials are not authorized to use public transportation.  

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

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 U.S. Consulate in Karachi frequently receives reports from U.S. citizens who have been the victims of robberies at gunpoint.  Many calls involve robberies during transit between Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport and the city.

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 May, a U.S. citizen was kidnapped for ransom in Bannu.  In December 2013, a U.S. citizen was released after being kidnapped for two months from his neighborhood outside of Peshawar.  In May 2013, a U.S. citizen was rescued by local police after being kidnapped for ransom. 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 whose 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.

ENTRY/EXIT DIFFICULTIES

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.

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 State website. 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.

You may make an American Citizens Services appointment with the Consular Section in Islamabad through the following link: http://islambad.usembassy.gov/service/appointmemts.html.

U.S. citizens requiring emergency services should contact the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad at telephone (92-51) 208-0000. Note that our ability to provide emergency services outside Islamabad could be limited by travel restrictions and security conditions.

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.

You may make an American Citizens Services appointment with the Consular Section in Karachi through the following link: http://karachi.usconsulate.gov/service.html.

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.

27. Nigeria Travel Warning

Posted on 8 August 2014 | 2:35 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nigeria and recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states because of the May 14, 2013 state of emergency proclamation for those three states by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The security situation in the country remains fluid and unpredictable. The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens in Nigeria to keep personal safety and health in the forefront of their planning. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Nigeria dated January 8, 2014.

The ability of the Mission to provide assistance to U.S. citizens remains severely limited. The Department continues to recommend against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks: Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, and Yobe States.  The Department also advises travelers to exercise additional caution while traveling in Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara States.  Based on safety and security risk assessments, the Embassy maintains restrictions for travel by U.S. officials to those states listed above; officials must receive advance clearance by the U.S. Mission for any travel deemed as mission-essential. U.S. citizens should be aware that extremist groups could expand their operations beyond northern Nigeria to other areas of the country.

The U.S. Mission advises all U.S. citizens to be particularly vigilant around government security facilities; churches, mosques, and other places of worship; locations where large crowds may gather, such as hotels, clubs, beer parlors, restaurants, markets, shopping malls; and other areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travelers. Security measures in Nigeria remain heightened due to threats posed by extremist groups, and U.S. citizens may encounter police and military checkpoints, additional security, and possible road blocks throughout the country.

Boko Haram, an extremist group based in northeast Nigeria and designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Department of State, has claimed responsibility for many attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria. This includes two recent vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices detonated in Nyanya, a suburb of the capital of Abuja, that resulted in approximately 100 combined deaths in April and May of 2014.  The first months of 2014 have seen a continued increase in Boko Haram attacks and clashes with Nigerian government security forces in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has also targeted women and children for kidnapping, reportedly kidnapping women in northern states for marriage as “slave brides,” and kidnapping more than 200 school girls from a private school in Borno state.  Boko Haram is known to descend on whole towns, robbing banks and businesses, attacking police and military installations, and setting fire to private homes.  In 2013, extremists also targeted both Nigerians and foreign nationals involved in polio eradication efforts in northern Nigeria, leaving several U.S. government partner agencies working on public health development activities in northern Nigeria to curtail their vaccination efforts.  Furthermore, U.S. citizen missionaries in northern Nigeria have received specific written threats to their safety and well-being.

Various curfews are intermittently in effect in several states in the North. All U.S. citizens should remain aware of current situations including curfews, travel restrictions, and states of emergency in the areas you are in or plan to visit. This information is commonly announced via the news media, but at times it can change with very little notice. Please take the time to find out this information for your area.

Kidnappings remain a security concern throughout the country. Since the beginning of 2013, there have been multiple reports of kidnappings involving U.S. citizens.   Kidnappings of foreign nationals and attacks against Nigerian police forces in Lagos State and the Niger Delta region continue to affect personal security for those traveling in these areas. Criminals or militants have abducted foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, from off-shore and land-based oil facilities and maritime vessels, residential compounds, and public roadways. Ansaru, an offshoot of Boko Haram, has specifically targeted foreigners in the north for kidnap in the past few years with lethal outcomes.

Violent crimes occur throughout the country. U.S. citizen visitors and residents have experienced armed muggings, assaults, burglaries, armed robberies, car-jackings, rapes, kidnappings, and extortion. Home invasions also remain a serious threat, with armed robbers accessing even guarded compounds by scaling perimeter walls, accessing waterfront compounds by boat, following residents or visitors, or subduing guards to gain entry to homes or apartments. Law enforcement authorities usually respond slowly or not at all and provide little or no investigative support to victims. U.S. citizens, other foreign nationals, and Nigerians have experienced harassment and shakedowns at checkpoints and during encounters with Nigerian law enforcement officials. The Department advises against traveling outside of major cities after dark because of crime and road safety concerns.

Cell phone service has, at times, been disrupted in Nigeria, particularly in areas where a State of Emergency has been declared. Extremists have also been known to attack cellular telephone towers, leading to further disruptions. U.S. citizens should attempt to arrange for multiple means of communication in case of need during emergencies.

The Embassy is not able to offer medical treatment to travelers; however, it can provide a list of medical facilities that may be able to treat U.S. citizens with medical emergencies. In July 2014, the U.S. Embassy in Abuja reported confirmed cases of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Nigeria. Since that time, new reports of deaths and confirmed and suspected cases of persons with EVD or Ebola-like symptoms have been reported.  For further information on the Ebola virus, U.S. citizens should consult the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention website and also visit the U.S. Embassy website to review Security Messages addressing the Ebola virus in Nigeria. On August 5, the CDC issued a Travel Notice advising enhanced health and hygiene precautions for travelers to Nigeria due to the Ebola virus. On July 31, the CDC issued Travel Notices warning against nonessential travel to Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone due to the Ebola virus.

The Department strongly advises U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Nigeria to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

The U.S. Embassy in Abuja is located at:
Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive, Central District Area, and can be reached by telephone, including after-hours for emergencies, at 234(9)461-4000. The Embassy is open Monday - Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos is located at: 2 Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, and can be reached by telephone, including after-hours for emergencies, at 234(1)460-3600 or 234 (1) 460-3400. The Consulate is open Monday - Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy in Abuja or the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos for up-to-date information on any restrictions.

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 if calling 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 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.

28. Liberia Travel Warning

Posted on 7 August 2014 | 8:42 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to Liberia.

After review of health conditions, the U.S. Department of State ordered the departure of family members residing with Embassy staff in Monrovia to begin August 8, 2014.  U.S. government employees in Liberia will remain on active duty at the Embassy and additional staff are being deployed to assist the Government of Liberia in addressing the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak.

In May 2014, a case of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) was confirmed in Liberia, marking the first case in a second wave of the EVD outbreak. Since then, EVD has continued to spread and intensify. The latest wave of the outbreak has overwhelmed Liberia's health system and most health facilities lack sufficient staff or resources to address the continuing transmission of EVD.  Options for obtaining routine medical care are severely limited.  For more information concerning EVD, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  Please direct inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Liberia to EbolaEmergencyUSC@state.gov. Callers in the United States and Canada may dial the toll free number 1-888-407-4747.  Callers outside the United States and Canada may dial 1-202-501-4444.

If you arrive in Liberia and subsequently need routine or emergency medical care, you should expect limited, if any, options.  Travelers are advised that air carriers chartered by medical evacuation insurance companies may not be able to provide timely services in Liberia or the region.  Policyholders should confirm the availability of medical evacuation services prior to travel.  While commercial flights are still available from Monrovia, some airlines have discontinued service and flights may become more difficult to obtain.  If you plan to visit Liberia despite this warning, you should purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation, and confirm that the coverage applies to the circumstances in Liberia.

The Department of State urges those U.S. citizens who decide to travel to or remain in Liberia despite this Travel Warning to provide their current contact information through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Liberia.  For additional information, refer to the Traveler's Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Check U.S. Embassy Monrovia’s website for up-to-date messages to U.S. citizens.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 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).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips. 

U.S. Embassy Monrovia is located at 502 Benson St, Mamba Point.  Telephone: +231 (0)77-677-7000.  Emergency after-hours telephone: +231 (0)77-677-7000.

29. Cameroon Travel Warning

Posted on 6 August 2014 | 3:05 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high risk of travel to Cameroon and cautions U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Far North region of the country.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated May 6, 2014 and updates information on the continuing threat of kidnappings and other armed attacks in the Far North region of Cameroon. 

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high risk of travel to Cameroon and cautions U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Far North region of the country.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated May 6, 2014 and updates information on the continuing threat of kidnappings and other armed attacks in the Far North region of Cameroon.

The terrorist group Boko Haram is active in the Far North, and has actively targeted foreign expatriates resident in Cameroon, tourists, and government leaders.  On July 25, 2014, more than 200 suspected Boko Haram operatives conducted a coordinated attack on two compounds in Kolofata.  The wife of the Vice Prime Minister of Cameroon and several others were kidnapped from the Vice PM’s residential compound, while Kolofata’s mayor and religious leader and several others were kidnapped from the mayor’s residence.  Several civilians were killed in this coordinated operation.  Twenty-one expatriates have been kidnapped since 2013. 

The most recent kidnapping of expatriates occurred May 16, 2014 from a site near the town of Waza, 12 miles from the Nigerian border.  Also, on April 4, 2014, attackers kidnapped two Italian priests and a Canadian nun during the night from their residences in Tchere, near the city of Maroua, located approximately 60 kilometers from the Nigerian border.  A French priest was kidnapped from the town of Nguetchewe in November 2013, and a French family of seven (three adults and four children) was kidnapped while travelling near Waza National Park in February 2013.  Boko Haram and an affiliated group, Ansaru, were responsible for the kidnappings of the French victims, and are believed to be responsible for the latest kidnappings in April 2014. 

Boko Haram’s leaders have stated and demonstrated through their actions over the past year that they are actively seeking to kidnap “Westerners” and U.S. citizens travelling to or living in the Far North and North regions of Cameroon. In November 2013, the State Department designated Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations.  Several large weapons caches attributed to Boko Haram were discovered in Cameroon and confiscated by authorities in 2013 and 2014, signaling the active presence of the group and pointing to the likelihood of additional attacks.  All areas in the Far North region of Cameroon are affected by this warning.

The U.S. Embassy also continues to urge extreme caution when travelling in the North and Adamaoua regions of Cameroon, especially within areas 100 kilometers of Cameroon’s border with Adamaoua state, Nigeria, and north of Ngaoundere in the Adamaoua region of Cameroon.

The U.S. Embassy continues to maintain restrictions on travel by U.S. officials to the North and Far North regions of Cameroon, as well as any travel north of Ngaoundere in the Adamaoua region.  U.S. officials are permitted to travel to these areas only if the travel is deemed mission-essential.  All officials proposing such travel must receive advance clearance by the U.S. Embassy.

Travel Warnings are in place for countries bordering Cameroon on the west, north, and east:  Nigeria, Chad, and the Central African Republic.  The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to consult travel warnings for these countries as well when considering travel in areas of Cameroon bordering these countries, as violence and banditry in border areas can quickly spill over into Cameroon.  In March 2013, the Seleka rebel group overthrew the government of the Central African Republic in violent clashes with the CAR military and foreign troops.  Despite an on-going peace process and the creation of a transitional government, the security situation remains highly unstable.  The U.S. Embassy in Bangui, CAR suspended operations on December 28, 2012.  Violence in CAR spilled over into the Adamaoua and East regions of Cameroon in isolated incidents over the past year.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Cameroon 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 nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, (including the Travel Warning for Cameroon, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Cameroon.  For additional information, refer to the Traveler's Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 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).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé is located at Avenue Rosa Parks close to the Mont Febe Golf Club.  The telephone number is +237 2220-1500 ext. 4341/4023.  The number for after-hours emergencies is +237 2220-1500 ext. 4531. The fax number is +237 2220-1572. The Embassy's e-mail address is mailto:yaoundeacs@state.gov

30. Libya Travel Warning

Posted on 26 July 2014 | 4:54 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately.

On July 26, the U.S. Embassy suspended all embassy operations in Libya and relocated staff, due to ongoing violence between Libyan militias in the immediate vicinity of the Embassy.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on May 27, 2014.

Please direct inquiries regarding U.S. citizens in Libya to LibyaEmergencyUSC@state.gov.  Callers in the United States and Canada may dial the toll free number 1-888-407-4747.  Callers outside the United States and Canada may dial 1-202-501-4444.

The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable.  The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution.  Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation.  Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country.  In addition to the threat of crime, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya.  Extremist groups in Libya have made several specific threats this year against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests in Libya.  Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks, or death.  U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately. 

Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country and attacks by armed groups can occur in many different areas; hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire.  Armed clashes have occurred in the areas near Tripoli International Airport, Airport Road, and Swani Road.  Checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli, and at times inside the capital.  Closures or threats of closures of international airports occur regularly, whether for maintenance, labor, or security-related incidents.  Along with airports, seaports and roads can close with little or no warning.  U.S. citizens should closely monitor news and check with airlines to try to travel out of Libya as quickly and safely as possible.

The status of the country’s interim government remains uncertain.  The newly elected Council of Representatives is scheduled to convene by August 4, but political jockeying continues over where and when to seat the parliament.  Heavy clashes between rival factions erupted in May 2014 in Benghazi and other eastern cities.  In Tripoli, armed groups have contested territory near Tripoli International Airport since July 13, rendering the airport non-operational.  State security institutions lack basic capabilities to prevent conflict, and there remains a possibility of further escalation. 

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, despite this Travel Warning, 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 to contact you in an emergency.  If you don't have internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

You should make plans to depart as soon as possible. Travelers should check with their airlines prior to their planned travel to verify the flight schedule.  Flight cancellations occur frequently.  There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-sponsored evacuations.  U.S. citizens seeking to depart Libya are responsible for making their own travel arrangements.  Land port closures occur frequently.

The Embassy’s website includes consular information and the most recent messages for U.S. citizens in 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.  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. 

31. Chad Travel Warning

Posted on 30 June 2014 | 2:23 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Chad and recommends citizens avoid travel to eastern Chad and all border regions.

The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid public gathering spaces and locations frequented by expatriates, including markets, restaurants, bars, and places of worship. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Chad dated April 15, 2014 to update U.S. citizens on the current security situation in Chad.

The U.S. Embassy in Chad reviews all proposed travel by official U.S. government personnel and U.S. government-funded program-related travel to Chad. All U.S. government personnel require authorization to travel to areas outside of the capital, N'Djamena, and may be subject to restrictions within the capital. As security situations warrant, the U.S. Embassy may periodically impose further travel restrictions, including curfews, on U.S. government personnel. While private U.S. citizens are not required to follow these practices, the Embassy will communicate them to U.S. citizens within the country.  Private U.S. citizens are encouraged to carefully consider those restrictions and take similar precautions when making travel plans. All U.S. citizens should review security precautions and consider measures to mitigate exposure to violent crime and other threats. U.S. citizens residing in Chad should exercise caution throughout the country, especially at night.

While there are presently no known specific threats against U.S. citizens in Chad, there are violent extremist organizations in the region, such as Boko Haram and al-Qai’da in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which are intent on harming westerners and western interests and are able to cross borders easily. Despite recent stability, Chad’s historically volatile security environment could deteriorate unexpectedly, particularly in border areas. The U.S. Embassy, therefore, advises all U.S. citizens to exercise caution and be prepared to implement their personal evacuation or safe haven plans on short notice should the situation warrant. U.S. citizens in Chad should closely monitor news media, enroll in the Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and especially monitor Security and Emergency Messages posted on the Embassy website.

Incidents of robbery, carjacking at gunpoint, and murder have been reported throughout the country and recently in N’Djamena. While there are no reports of kidnapping for ransom in Chad since 2010, regional trends suggest this remains a potential threat. Violence is occasionally associated with car accidents and other events that have caused injury to Chadian nationals. Robbery victims have been beaten or killed, and law enforcement and military personnel have been implicated in violent crime. In addition, armed groups may reemerge with little warning. The Government of Chad has limited means to guarantee the safety of visitors in rural Chad.

U.S. citizens affiliated with humanitarian relief efforts in rural Chad are strongly urged to adhere closely to the policies and procedures of their host organizations to mitigate risks from violent crime. The Government of Chad requires all individuals traveling to or residing in areas hosting refugee populations in Chad to obtain movement permits (autorisation de circuler) from the Ministry of Interior and Public Security in N'Djamena. U.S. citizens intending to enter Cameroon, Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Nigeria, or Sudan from Chad should consult the Department's Travel Warnings for those countries and obtain any requisite visas or travel permits prior to traveling.

The U.S. Embassy communicates with U.S. citizens in Chad through its warden system; however, in the case of an emergency, including an evacuation, the support that can be offered to those in remote and rural areas is limited. All U.S. citizens affiliated with humanitarian relief efforts in eastern Chad should have an evacuation plan developed with the United Nations agency coordinating their work.

Medical services in Chad are limited. U.S. citizens entering Chad are strongly encouraged to verify their coverage extends to traveling within Chad – including medical evacuation – prior to arrival.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in (Country) 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 nearest U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Travelers should remember to keep all of their information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important to include a current phone number and e-mail address in order to receive the Embassy's emergency messages.

Regularly monitor the State Department's website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, (including the Travel Warning for Chad), Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for Chad.   For additional information, refer to the Traveler's Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 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).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy is located on Avenue Felix Eboué in N’Djamena; the Embassy's mailing address is BP 413 N’Djamena Chad. Embassy telephone numbers are +(235) 2251-62-11, 2251-70-09, 2251-77-59, 2251-90-52, 2251-92-18, and 2251-92-33. The Embassy fax number is 235 2251-56-54. For after-hours emergencies, U.S. citizens in Chad should call +235 6662-2100 and ask to speak with the duty officer. 

32. Honduras Travel Warning

Posted on 24 June 2014 | 7:03 pm
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high.

This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated December 24, 2013, and includes additional information on crime and security in Honduras, as well as updated contact information.

Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens visit Honduras each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work without incident. However, crime and violence are serious problems throughout the country, and the Government of Honduras lacks the resources to address these issues. Since 2010, Honduras has had the highest murder rate in the world. The Honduran Ministry of Security recorded a homicide rate of 75.6 per 100,000 people in 2013, while the National Violence Observatory, an academic research institution based out of Honduras’ National Public University, reports that the 2013 murder rate was 79 murders per 100,000 people.

U.S. citizens are victims of crime at levels similar to those of the local population, and do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality. Although Roatan/Bay Islands, Copan Mayan ruins, and other tourist destinations and resorts have a lower crime rate than other parts of the country, thefts, break-ins, assaults, and murders do occur and are still high by international standards. In 2012, the Government of Honduras increased police presence and established special police forces in areas frequented by tourists, such as the Copan Mayan ruins and Roatan. The Honduran government is evaluating similar options for other locations, and major hotels and other tourist installations have increased private and police security.

Tourists traveling with group tours also report fewer criminal incidents. However, the San Pedro Sula area has seen armed robberies against tourist vans, minibuses, and cars traveling from the airport to area hotels, and there have also been armed robberies along the road to Copan. Visitors are strongly urged to exercise caution in discussing travel plans in public.

Several U.S. citizens have reported being robbed while walking on isolated beaches. All visitors should be vigilant of their surroundings at all times, avoid unfamiliar or isolated areas, and take care to book only with reputable tour companies during their visit to Honduras. The vast majority of cruise line passengers in Honduras experience no problems, but incidents of armed robbery and carjacking have been reported. Coxen Hole on the island of Roatan should be avoided after dark. The vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved.

Members of the Honduran National Police have been known to engage in criminal activity, including murder and car theft. The government of Honduras lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases, and police often lack vehicles or fuel to respond to calls for assistance. In practice, this means police may take hours to arrive at the scene of a violent crime, or may not respond at all. As a result, criminals operate with a high degree of impunity throughout Honduras. The Honduran government is still in the early stages of substantial reforms to its criminal justice institutions.

Transnational criminal organizations also conduct narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout the country, using violence to control drug trafficking routes and carry out criminal activity.  Other criminals, acting both individually and in gangs in Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, and other large cities, are known to commit crimes such as murder, kidnapping, extortion, carjacking, armed robbery, rape, and other aggravated assaults.

Kidnappings remain a concern and are believed to be underreported. Since January 1, 2012, four cases of kidnapped U.S. citizens were reported to the U.S. Embassy. The kidnapping victims were all subsequently released, sometimes paying large ransoms to their captors.

U.S. citizens should be vigilant of their surroundings at all times and in all locations, especially when entering or exiting their homes, hotels, cars, garages, schools, and workplaces. Whenever possible, U.S. citizens should travel in groups of two or more. It is also advisable to avoid wearing jewelry and carrying large sums of money or displaying cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables. U.S. citizens should avoid walking at night in most areas of Honduras or walking alone on beaches, historic ruins, and trails. Motorists should avoid traveling at night and always drive with their doors locked and windows up to deter potential robberies at traffic lights and on congested downtown streets.

The location and timing of criminal activity is unpredictable in Honduras. The U.S. Embassy recommends that all travelers exercise caution when traveling anywhere in the country; however, certain areas of the country demonstrate higher levels of criminal activity than others. Most of Honduras’ major cities (Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula, La Ceiba, and others), as well as several Honduran “departments” (a geographic designation similar to U.S. states) have homicide rates higher than the national average for 2013, including:

DEPARTMENT                      CAPITAL
Atlántida                             La Ceiba
Colón                                 Trujillo
Cortés                                San Pedro Sula
Ocotepeque                        Ocotepeque
Yoro                                   Yoro

There are no reliable statistics for the department of Gracias a Dios; however, travelers to the area should note that it is a remote location where narcotics trafficking is frequent, infrastructure is weak, government services are limited, and police or military presence is scarce.

For more detailed information regarding personal security, please see the State Department's Country Specific Information for Honduras.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ Web site, where the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.

The Embassy strongly encourages U.S. citizens living or traveling in Honduras to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to obtain updated information on travel and security within Honduras. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. Stay up to date by bookmarking the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site, which contains Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.

If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime in Honduras, you should contact the local police and the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. If you are in the two major cities of Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Sula, you can reach the local police by dialing 911; other smaller cities or rural areas have their own local police assistance numbers.

The U.S. Embassy is located on Avenida La Paz in Tegucigalpa, and can be reached at:

Telephone:     (504) 2236-9320/2238-5114
Fax:               (504) 2236-9037
After Hours:    (504) 2236-8497
Website:         honduras.usembassy.gov

The Embassy's American Citizens Services Unit is open to walk-in services Monday through Friday from 8:00 to 11:30 am, and can be reached directly at:

Telephone:     (504) 2238-5114 ext. 4400
After Hours:    (504) 2238-5114 / 2236-9320 ext.4100
Fax:               (504) 2238-4357
Email:             usahonduras@state.gov
Facebook:       http://www.facebook.com/acstegucigalpa

The U.S. Consular Agency in San Pedro Sula is located on the eleventh floor of the Banco Atlantida building (across from Central Park). The agency is open to walk-in services on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 12:00 to 4:00 pm, and can be reached at Telephone: (504) 2558-1580.

33. Kenya Travel Warning

Posted on 19 June 2014 | 2:24 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya.

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya.  U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas.  Due to the terrorist attack on June 15 in Mpeketoni, in Lamu County, the U.S. Embassy instituted restrictions on U.S. government personnel travel to all coastal counties – Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, and the coastal portion only of Tana River County. 



Based on the recent changes in Kenya’s security situation, the Embassy is also relocating some staff to other countries.  However, the Embassy will remain open for normal operations.  This replaces the Travel Warning of May 17, 2014, to update information about embassy staffing and current travel recommendations.

The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including the Nairobi area and the coastal cities of Mombasa and Diani. Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings – to include car bombings - kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports.  Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region.  Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.

In the past year and a half, there have been numerous attacks involving shootings, grenades, or other explosive devices in Kenya in addition to the attacks described above.  In total, over 100 people have been killed in these attacks and hundreds have been injured. Approximately 53 of these attacks occurred in northeastern Kenya, mainly in Dadaab, Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera counties.  Several attacks also occurred along the Kenyan coast. From June 15 through June 17, there were at least two terrorist attacks that occurred in Lamu County with death tolls estimated at over 50.  One of the terrorist attacks occurred in the town of Mpeketoni on June 15. On May 3, two separate IEDs detonated in the Mombasa area.  One occurred at the central stop of a local bus company in which four people were killed.  The other occurred at a local resort frequented by Westerners; one was injured at that location. On March 23, three unknown gunmen opened fire on a church service in Mombasa’s Likoni district, killing six people and wounding 18 others. On January 2, 10 people were wounded in a grenade attack on a night club in Diani, a popular resort area on Kenya’s south coast near Mombasa.

Twenty grenade and improvised explosive device (IED) attacks have occurred in Nairobi, illustrating an increase in the number and an advance in the sophistication of these attacks.  On May 16, two IEDs exploded at the Gikomba market in Nairobi killing 10 people and injuring 70. On May 4, two IEDs exploded on two separate buses traveling along Thika Highway in northern Nairobi, killing four people. On April 24, two terrorists detonated an IED inside their vehicle as police escorted it to the Pangani police station in Nairobi’s Eastleigh neighborhood; the two police officers as well as the attackers were killed.  On March 31, six people were killed in Eastleigh in a grenade attack. An attack also occurred on January 16 at a restaurant at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport; no injuries were reported. Other targets in the past have included police stations and police vehicles, nightclubs and bars, churches, a mosque, a religious gathering, a downtown building of small shops, and a bus station.  On December 14, 2013, an IED exploded on a passenger bus near the Eastleigh neighborhood, killing six people and injuring 30.

Kenyan law enforcement has disrupted several terrorist plots throughout the country. On March 17, 2014, police discovered a large and sophisticated car bomb in the Mombasa area, as reported in the local media. The intended target remains unclear.

Kenya initiated military action against al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab by crossing into Somalia on October 16, 2011, and on June 2, 2012, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) whereby it formally joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).  Kenyan troops within AMISOM are now actively pursuing al-Shabaab in southeastern Somalia. In response to the Kenyan intervention, al-Shabaab and its sympathizers have conducted retaliatory attacks against civilian and government targets in Kenya.

On September 21, 2013, suspected members of the al-Shabaab terrorist organization, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, killing scores of innocent people, both Kenyan and non-Kenyan nationals, and wounding many others.  The siege at the mall continued for several days and five U.S. citizens were confirmed injured in the attack. 

Ethnic clashes sometimes occur in areas of northern Kenya. In Marsabit in northern Kenya, more than 50 people have been killed and 50,000 displaced by ongoing ethnic clashes that began in July 2013. In October 2013, a local Muslim cleric with alleged ties to al-Shabaab was killed in a drive-by shooting in Mombasa, prompting a day of rioting in Mombasa, which resulted in the deaths of four persons and an arson attack that damaged a church. While this violence is not directed at foreigners, protests and ethnic clashes are unpredictable.  U.S. citizens are advised to check conditions and monitor local media reports before traveling to these areas.

Multiple kidnappings of Westerners have occurred in Kenya.  On June 29, 2012, four international aid workers (from Canada, Pakistan, Norway, and the Philippines) were kidnapped in the Dadaab refugee camp in northeastern Kenya.  All were rescued on July 1, 2012.  In October 2011, two Spanish nationals working for a non-governmental organization (NGO) were also kidnapped in Dadaab.  They were released on July 18, 2013.  On April 23, 2014, gunmen ambushed a convoy vehicle and attempted to kidnap an international humanitarian staff member at the Dadaab refugee complex. While the kidnapping attempt was unsuccessful, one national staff member was injured in the attack.

The Government of Kenya directive of December 2012 ordering all urban refugees to relocate to refugee camps was overturned by court order in July 2013. Nevertheless, as part of a wide-ranging security operation that began in April, refugees, primarily Somalis, in Nairobi and other cities have been ordered to report to established refugee camps.  U.S. citizens of Somali descent should be aware that they may encounter interruptions in their travel due to increased police scrutiny based on the encampment policy.  It is very important to carry at all times proof of identity and legal status in Kenya (i.e., valid visa). If you are detained by police or immigration officials, you should request to speak to someone from the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

As a result of these recent events and threats, the U.S. Embassy has restrictions on travel for U.S. government personnel to the Nairobi neighborhood of Eastleigh and to all coastal counties – Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu, and the coastal portion only of Tana River County.  Travel for all U.S. Embassy personnel must be pre-approved by appropriate Embassy offices. U.S. Embassy personnel are also prohibited from traveling to northeastern Kenya, including the cities of El Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, and Liboi.  U.S. Embassy personnel are also restricted from traveling to the coastal area north of Pate Island, including Kiwavu and north to Kiunga on the Kenya-Somalia border. The Embassy has also instituted a policy of restricting U.S. government-sponsored regional conferences and trainings in Nairobi and reviewing the numbers of TDY personnel coming to the country for official purposes. 

Although these restrictions do not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. government, U.S. citizens in Kenya should take these restrictions into account when planning travel. The Embassy regularly reviews the security of these areas for possible modification. Travelers should keep informed of local developments by following local press, radio, and television reports prior to their visits. Visitors should also consult their hosts, including U.S. and Kenyan business contacts, hotels, tour guides, and travel organizers.

Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings, grenade attacks, home invasions and burglaries, and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi. U.S. citizens, including U.S. Embassy employees, have been victims of such crimes within the past year.

U.S. citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant with regard to their personal security, particularly in crowded public places such as clubs, hotels, resorts, shopping centers, restaurants, bus stations, and places of worship.  U.S. citizens should also remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events. U.S. citizens should use commonsense precautions at all times, to include the following practices: avoid crowded transportation venues; visit only legitimate businesses and tourist areas only during daylight hours; use well-marked taxis and be sure to lock vehicle doors and keep windows up; lock all lodging doors and windows; carry minimal amounts of cash and credit cards; do not wear jewelry which attracts undue attention; know emergency phone numbers; do not resist or antagonize armed criminals; and always be aware of your surroundings. These measures can help ensure your travel to Kenya is safe and enjoyable.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Kenya are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information.  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.  U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (+254) (20) 363-6000; fax (+254) (20) 363-6410.  In the event of an after-hours emergency, the Embassy duty officer may be contacted at (+254) (20) 363-6000.  Travelers may also consult the U.S. Embassy Nairobi website for more information.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Kenya, as well as Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, which are all available on the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website.  The most recent security and emergency messages can be found on U.S. Embassys Nairobi’s website.  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 on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.  

34. Republic of South Sudan Travel Warning

Posted on 12 June 2014 | 2:02 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Republic of South Sudan.

After review of our security conditions, the U.S. Department of State lifted the ordered departure status for the U.S. Embassy in Juba on June 12, 2014.  However, as a result of continued instability and a poor security situation resulting from the civil conflict which erupted in the country in December 2013, the U.S. Embassy will continue operating at reduced staffing levels for the foreseeable future.  The U.S. Embassy is therefore only able to offer very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Republic of South Sudan.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on April 23, 2014.

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi [Tel.: +(254) (20) 363-6451 or +(254) (20) 363-6170, e-mail: Kenya_acs@state.gov] is available to assist U.S. citizens in South Sudan who need assistance; in an emergency, contact the U.S. Embassy in Juba (Daytime: +(211) 912-105-188; After Hours: +(211) 912-105-107).

 The South Sudanese government is currently engaged in an armed conflict with a rebel group led by the former vice president Riek Machar.  The conflict began with an outbreak of violence in Juba in December 2013, and several states continue to experience active fighting.  Instability persists across the country.  Please note that the U.S. Embassy can provide only limited consular assistance to detainees in Juba, and consular assistance to detainees outside the capital may well be limited to over-the-phone contact.  The U.S. Embassy is rarely informed in a timely manner of the arrest of U.S. citizens.

Health care in South Sudan is extremely limited and poor.  U.S. citizens with medical conditions should not travel to South Sudan, and all travelers should ensure their travel to the country is covered by overseas medical insurance, including medical evacuation.  Medical evacuation from South Sudan is very expensive, often costing tens of thousands of dollars or more.

The Government of South Sudan has limited capacity to deter crime or provide security to travelers anywhere in the country. 

In addition to instability related to the current civil conflict, the risk of violent crime is high in Juba.  The U.S. Embassy in Juba has imposed a curfew from 9:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. in an effort to 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 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.

If you seek information about U.S. citizens services in South Sudan from the Directorate of Overseas Citizens Services in Washington, please email: SouthSudanEmergencyUSC@state.gov.

The Department of State urges those U.S. citizens who decide to travel to or remain in South Sudan despite this Travel Warning to provide their current contact information and next-of-kin information through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

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 Crises page. 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 should consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for South Sudan.  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Worldwide CautionTravel Warnings and Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

35. Iran Travel Warning

Posted on 22 May 2014 | 8:42 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travel to Iran.

Dual national Iranian-American citizens may encounter difficulty in departing Iran.  U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and carefully consider nonessential travel.  This Travel Warning updates without change the Travel Warning for Iran issued November 21, 2013.

Some elements in Iran remain hostile to the United States.  As a result, U.S. citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while traveling or residing in Iran.  Since 2009, Iranian authorities have prevented the departure, in some cases for several months, of a number of Iranian-American citizens, including journalists and academics, who traveled to Iran for personal or professional reasons.  Iranian authorities also have unjustly detained or imprisoned U.S. citizens on various charges, including espionage and posing a threat to national security.  U.S. citizens of Iranian origin should consider the risk of being targeted by authorities before planning travel to Iran.  Iranian authorities deny the U.S. Interests Section in Tehran access to imprisoned dual national Iranian-American citizens because Iranian authorities consider them to be solely Iranian citizens; access to U.S. citizens without dual nationality is often denied as well.

The Iranian government continues to repress some minority religious and ethnic groups, including Christians, Baha'i, Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, and others.  Consequently, some areas within the country where these minorities reside, including the Baluchistan border area near Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Kurdish northwest of the country, and areas near the Iraqi border, remain unsafe. Iranian authorities have detained and harassed U.S. citizens of Iranian origin.  Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, religious activists, and persons who encourage Muslims to convert are subject to arrest and prosecution.

The U.S. government does not have diplomatic or consular relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran and therefore cannot provide protection or routine consular services to U.S. citizens in Iran.  The Swiss government, acting through its Embassy in Tehran, serves as protecting power for U.S. interests in Iran.  The range of consular services provided by the U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy is limited and may require significantly more processing time than at U.S. embassies or consulates. The Iranian government does not recognize dual citizenship and will not allow the Swiss to provide protective services for U.S. citizens who are also Iranian nationals. 

Our ability to assist U.S. citizens in Iran in the event of an emergency is extremely limited.  U.S. citizens in Iran should ensure that they have updated travel documentation at all times and make their own plans in the event of an emergency.  For more information, see "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis" at the Department's website.  U.S. citizens who travel or reside in Iran are strongly encouraged to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  U.S. citizens may also enroll in person at the U.S. Interests Section at the Swiss Embassy, located at No. 39, Shahid Mousavi (Golestan 5th), Pasdaran, Tehran.  The telephone numbers for the U.S. Interests Section are +(98)(21) 2279-3912, +(98)(21) 2279-3697,+(98)(21) 2254-2178, and +(98)(21) 2256-5273; fax +(98)(21) 2258-0432; email: tie.vertretung@eda.admin.ch, and website

U.S. citizens should also review the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Iran and stay up to date by bookmarking the Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.  You may follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well; however, both Twitter and Facebook are filtered in Iran and will not be accessible without a virtual private network (VPN).  If you don't have internet access, 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, 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).

36. North Korea Travel Warning

Posted on 20 May 2014 | 4:40 pm
The Department of State strongly recommends against all travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, or DPRK).

This replaces the Travel Warning for North Korea of November 19, 2013, to update information on the risk of arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens in North Korea. 

Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizen tourists have been subject to arbitrary arrest and long-term detention.  North Korean authorities have arrested U.S. citizens who entered the DPRK legally on valid DPRK visas as well as U.S. citizens who accidentally crossed into DPRK territory. The Department of State has also received reports of DPRK authorities arbitrarily detaining U.S. citizens without charges and not allowing them to depart the country.  In the past 18 months, North Korea detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours.  Do not assume that joining a group tour or use of a tour guide will prevent your arrest or detention by North Korean authorities.  Efforts by private tour operators to prevent or resolve past detentions of U.S. citizens in the DPRK have not succeeded in gaining their release.

The Government of North Korea has detained, arrested, and imposed heavy fines on persons who violated DPRK laws, such as entering the country illegally or attempting to contact private DPRK citizens without government authorization.  Travelers to North Korea must enter the DPRK with a valid passport and valid DPRK visa.  Foreign visitors to North Korea may be arrested, detained, or expelled for activities that would not be considered criminal outside North Korea, including involvement in unsanctioned religious and/or political activities (whether those activities took place inside or outside North Korea), unauthorized travel, or unauthorized interaction with the local population.

North Korean security personnel may regard as espionage unauthorized or unescorted travel inside North Korea and unauthorized attempts to speak directly to North Korean citizens.  North Korean authorities may fine or arrest travelers for exchanging currency with an unauthorized vendor, for taking unauthorized photographs, or for shopping at stores not designated for foreigners.  It is a criminal act in North Korea to show disrespect to the country's former leaders, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung, or to the current leader, Kim Jong Un.

If DPRK authorities permit you to keep your cell phone upon entry into the country, please keep in mind that you have no right to privacy in North Korea and should assume your communications are monitored.  It is a criminal act to bring printed or electronic media criticizing the DPRK government into the country.  If you bring electronic media, including USB drives, CD-ROMs, DVDs, or laptops, into the country, you must assume that North Korean authorities will review the information on those devices.  Please be sure that the information contained on those devices does not violate the laws or regulations of the DPRK, as penalties for knowingly or unknowingly violating North Korea's laws are much harsher than U.S. penalties for similar offenses.  Sentences for crimes can include years of detention in hard labor camps or death.

Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with the DPRK, the U.S. government has no means to provide normal consular services to U.S. citizens in North Korea.  The Embassy of Sweden, the U.S. Protecting Power in the DPRK capital of Pyongyang, provides limited consular services to U.S. citizens traveling in North Korea who are ill, injured, arrested, or who have died while there.  The U.S.-DPRK Interim Consular Agreement provides that North Korea will notify the Embassy of Sweden within four days of an arrest or detention of a U.S. citizen and will allow consular visits by the Swedish Embassy within two days after a request is made.  However, the DPRK government routinely delays or denies consular access.

U.S. citizens who plan to travel to North Korea are strongly encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China, about their trip by enrolling in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.  If you enroll in this program, the State Department can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements via email messages (though you may not have access to email while in the DPRK).  Enrollment also makes it easier for friends and family to get in touch with you in an emergency via the U.S. Embassy.   U.S. citizens residing in China can contact the U.S. Embassy in Beijing directly.  The Embassy is located next to the Ladies' Street (Nuren Jie) and Laitai Flower Market, near the Kempinski Hotel and Lufthansa shopping Center on Tianze Road near the Liangmaqiao subway stop:

U.S. Embassy Beijing
American Citizens Services Unit
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Chaoyang District
Beijing, China 100600
Telephone: (86-10) 8531-4000
Facsimile: (86-10) 8531-3300
Email: amcitbeijing@state.gov
Emergency after-hours telephone: (86-10) 8531-4000

U.S. citizens traveling to North Korea are also strongly encouraged to contact the Embassy of Sweden by telephone or email prior to travel. Please provide the Embassy of Sweden with your name, date of birth, dates of your trip, and emergency contact information:

The Embassy of Sweden Pyongyang (U.S. Protecting Power in North Korea)
Munsu-Dong District
Pyongyang, DPRK
Telephone: (850-2) 3817 485 (reception)
Telephone: (850-2) 3817 904, (850-2) 3817 907 (Deputy)
Telephone: (850-2) 3817 908, (850-2) 3817 905 (Ambassador)
Facsimile: (850-2) 3817 663
Email: ambassaden.pyongyang@gov.se

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for North Korea and the current Worldwide Caution, which are located on the Department's travel website at travel.state.gov. U.S. citizens can obtain current information on safety and security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, from outside the United States and Canada, 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).

Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. 

37. Niger Travel Warning

Posted on 27 March 2014 | 1:56 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Niger.

U.S. citizens in Niger, and those considering travel to Niger, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing threats to safety and security. On June 13, 2013, the Department of State approved authorized departure for family members of Embassy personnel because of extensive problems with the electrical power grid in Niger and associated difficulties guaranteeing a potable water supply for Embassy personnel and their family dependents. Since that time, circumstances have improved and, as of July 12, the U.S. Embassy in Niger is no longer on authorized departure status. This replaces the Travel Warning for Niger dated July 15, 2013, to update information about the current security situation.

The Government of Niger continues to maintain security checkpoints in Niamey to address security concerns. The Embassy recommends that citizens traveling in Niger remain especially careful around security checkpoints, as security forces continue to be on a heightened state of alert. Do not drive away from, or through, a checkpoint until you are given clear permission to do so. If you are unsure of what to do, please request verbal confirmation before proceeding.

On June 1, 2013 prisoners in Niamey's main prison staged a prison break. Of the 32 prisoners who successfully escaped, several are suspected to have ties to terrorist organizations. The majority of the escapees remain at large.

On May 23, 2013, terrorists using suicide car bombs, explosive vests and small arms attacked a Nigerien military compound in Agadez and a uranium mining facility operated by a French company in Arlit.

Terrorist groups in the past have called for and executed attacks against countries that supported the intervention against terrorist groups in northern Mali, including Niger. Because of terrorist and kidnapping threats, the Embassy Travel Policy requires armed Nigerien security escorts for travel north of the latitude of Niamey and east of Zinder for official U.S. government employees.  The areas bordering Mali and Libya, and northern Niger continue to be of serious concern. Additionally, Nigerian operations to counter Boko Haram in northern Nigeria have resulted in security degradation along the Niger-Nigeria border, primarily east of Zinder. The border is porous, and there are frequent reports of suspected terrorists and smugglers crossing into Niger. The Government of Niger increased its security forces at border crossings, but the situation remains tenuous, and travel to most border areas is not advised. The U.S. Embassy in Niamey will continue to monitor this situation closely and update U.S. citizens via "Security Messages for U.S. Citizens." These security messages are posted on U.S. Embassy Niamey's website.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a group designated as a terrorist organization by the Department of State since 2002, continues its threats to kidnap Westerners in Niger, including U.S. citizens, and has kidnapped Europeans in the region. On January 7, 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped in the capital city of Niamey. They were found dead less than 24 hours later following a rescue attempt by French and Nigerien military forces. In September 2010, seven people, including five French citizens, a Togolese, and a Malagasy were kidnapped by AQIM from the northern mining town of Arlit. The last four were released in November 2013. Although there have been no kidnappings of Westerners in Niger since January 2011, the Department of State Worldwide Caution dated September 25, 2013 reminds U.S. citizens to maintain a high-level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness when traveling in the region.

Crime in Niger is also a concern. Residential crime in Niamey for unguarded houses is commonplace in certain areas. This is easily mitigated by having 24/7 residential guards. Most crime in Niamey is non-violent in the form of pick-pocketing or purse-snatching; however, car-jackings and armed robbery can occur. Outside Niamey, the potential for violent crimes increases significantly. Armed bandits target travelers on roads in the northern parts of the country. Armed escorts are required for all Embassy travel north of Niamey and east of Zinder. For U.S. government personnel, all travel outside Niamey must be during daylight hours. We recommend U.S. citizens follow a similar procedure, i.e., travel no earlier than after sunrise and no later than one hour prior to sunset.

As a result of safety and security concerns, some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs, and private aid organizations, temporarily suspended operations in Niger or withdrew some family members and/or staff.

Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. government policy not to make concessions to kidnappers.

The U.S. Embassy in Niamey strongly encourages U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Niger despite this Travel Warning to enroll in the Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP), so as to 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 should consult the Country Specific Information for Niger and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. If you don't have internet access, 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, 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).

The U.S. Embassy in Niamey is located on Rue des Ambassades. The Embassy's telephone number is (227) 20-72-26-61. You can contact the Embassy after-hours for emergencies at telephone: (227) 20-72-31-41. Click here to visit the Embassy website.

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