US State Department Travel Warnings – International Alerts and Warnings

Updated on Friday, May 29th, 2015

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

1. Afghanistan Travel Warning

Posted on 22 May 2015 | 6:55 pm
The Department of State continues to warn 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 September 5, 2014.

The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Afghanistan), U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and foreign interests. Attacks may target official government convoys and compounds, including Afghan and U.S. government facilities, foreign embassies and military installations, as well as restaurants, hotels, airports, non-governmental organization (NGO) offices, international organizations, religious institutions, educational centers, foreign guest houses, and other commercial entities.

Extremists associated with various Taliban networks and members of other armed opposition groups are active in every province of the country.  Despite numerous security operations and checkpoints by Afghan and coalition forces in and around the capital, Kabul is at high risk for militant attacks, including vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIED), direct and indirect fire, and suicide bombings. The same risks also exist in other major cities in Afghanistan, including Herat, Mazar-e-Sharif, and Kandahar. A strong possibility for hostile acts exists throughout the country at all times, either targeted or random, against both U.S. and other foreign nationals. An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Afghanistan.  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 (IED). 

Militant attacks throughout the country continue, with many of these attacks specifically targeting U.S. and other foreign citizens and entities. On May 17, 2015, a suicide bomber used a VBIED in Kabul to attack a European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan (EUPOL) convoy, killing three including one British citizen. On May 13, 2015, an attack on the Park Palace Hotel killed 14 people including ten foreigners, one of whom was a U.S. citizen. In that incident, several other foreigners, including U.S. citizens, were held hostage at the hotel until the situation was resolved. On April 10, 2015, a suicide bomber used a VBIED to target a NATO military convoy in Jalalabad, killing four Afghan civilians nearby. On April 8, 2015, an Afghan soldier opened fire at the provincial governor’s compound in Jalalabad, killing one U.S. soldier and wounding eight others.  On February 26, 2015, an attack in Kabul on a Turkish diplomatic vehicle killed one Turkish national. Militants later claimed that their intended target was actually an American military convoy. On January 29, 2015, an Afghan soldier attacked four U.S.-citizen contractors at a military base connected to Kabul’s International Airport, killing three and seriously wounding one.

On December 11, 2014, a suicide-bombing at a French-funded school and cultural center in Kabul targeted foreigners and students attending a performance, killing one German national and wounding several others.  A lengthy assault on the Kabul headquarters of a U.S.-based NGO and guesthouse on November 29, 2014, resulted in the deaths of the South African head of the organization and his two children, as well as a local Afghan employee.  On November 27, 2014, a suicide attack against a British government convoy in Kabul killed five people, including a British national, and wounded more than 30.  Later that day, militants conducted a separate attack in Kabul’s Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood, a normally secure area comprising other foreign embassies, foreign guesthouses, and international agencies that is adjacent to the more secure zone housing the U.S. Embassy.  A November 24, 2014, bombing targeted a NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) convoy in Kabul, killing two U.S. soldiers.  A foreign security guard was killed in an October 26, 2014, attack against an international organization and guesthouse in Kabul’s diplomatic zone.  On October 13, 2014, a suicide bomber struck an ISAF convoy in Kabul, wounding three foreigners and killing one civilian.  Two U.S.-citizen military personnel, one additional foreign military official, and 13 civilians were killed in a September 16, 2014, attack carried out against an ISAF convoy.

On August 20, 2014, an assailant fatally stabbed a U.S. soldier near Kabul International Airport.  A lone gunman opened fire on a group of high-level military officers inspecting Marshal Fahim National Defense University on August 5, 2014, killing a U.S. two-star General and wounding twelve others, which included U.S. citizens. On July 22, 2014, a suicide bomber attacked a U.S. base near the Kabul International Airport, killing six guards and wounding ten.  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.  On April 24, 2014, an Afghan guard at Kabul’s Cure Hospital killed three U.S. doctors and wounded another U.S. doctor and nurse.  On March 28, 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, on March 20, 2014, a suicide bomber and three insurgents attacked the compound of an international NGO, killing two Afghan citizens and wounding ten.

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 20 to as large as 3,000 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. 

U.S. citizens representing various foreign interests in property or contract disputes – a common problem for foreign companies doing business in Afghanistan – have reported that local parties 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 critical 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.  The Embassy will regularly restrict or prohibit movements by its personnel, often on short notice and for reasons such as terrorist attacks, security threats, or demonstrations.  Because of security concerns, unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. Government employees and their family members is also restricted, and requires prior approval from the Department of State.

The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely 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 limit nonessential travel within Afghanistan, formulate personal contingency plans, monitor the Embassy’s website, and 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 traveler 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 travelers 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.

2. Philippines Travel Warning

Posted on 20 May 2015 | 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, certain regions and cities of the island of Mindanao, and the southern Sulu Sea area.

This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated November 20, 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 also continue to exercise extreme caution if traveling to certain regions and cities of the island of Mindanao.  Separatist and terrorist groups continue to conduct bombings, kidnappings and attacks against civilians, political leaders, and 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.  There have been no recent reported terrorist threats or incidents within the Davao City or Surigao city limits.  There have been no reports of U.S. citizens in Mindanao targeted specifically for their nationality; however, general threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners throughout Mindanao remain a concern.

Although U.S. government officials in the Philippines travel to Mindanao for official business without incident, the Embassy has imposed a strict restriction on all but the most essential travel to the area, and Embassy employees must receive special authorization from Embassy security officials to travel to any location in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.

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.

3. Burundi Travel Warning

Posted on 13 May 2015 | 9:02 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Burundi and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Burundi depart as soon as it is feasible to do so.

As a result of the deteriorating security situation, the Department of State ordered the departure of dependents of U.S. government personnel and non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Burundi on May 14.  The U.S. Embassy is able to offer only very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in Burundi.  This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on May 11, 2015.

The security situation remains fluid and volatile because of military and security forces activity in Bujumbura.  There have been increased political tensions and civil disturbances related to these actions.  Airport and land borders are reportedly closed.  U.S. citizens should shelter in place until it is safe to move about, ensure that your travel documents are up-to-date, and confirm that air and land borders are open before attempting to depart the country. 

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.  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.  Exchanges of gunfire and grenade attacks have increased but are usually not directed at foreigners.  If you encounter such a situation, stay indoors in a ground floor interior room away from doors and windows.  Common crimes include muggings, burglaries, and robberies.  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 that are intended to be peaceful can turn violent without advance warning.  For this reason, U.S. citizens should routinely monitor local media sources and the Internet for reports of demonstrations and unrest, and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind.

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 by embassy employees outside the city from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. is prohibited.  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.  Keep vehicle doors locked and windows up when stopped in heavy traffic.

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 with impunity.

For further information:

  • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Burundi.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, located on the corner of Avenue des Etats-Unis and Avenue du Cinquantenaire, at +257-22-20-7000, 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +257-22-20-7318, or +257-79-93-88-41.
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook

 

 

 

4. Kenya Travel Warning

Posted on 13 May 2015 | 2:24 pm
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 be aware of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. This replaces the Travel Warning of June 19, 2014, to update information about the current security situation.

Although thousands of U.S. citizens visit Kenya each year without incident, caution and keen awareness of one’s personal security situation is vitally important. The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya, including within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and within the northeastern region of the country. 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. Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.

Al-Qaeda and its affiliate, Al-Shabaab, have attacked targets in Kenya for years. Since late 2013, there have been numerous attacks involving shootings, grenades, or other explosive devices in Kenya, killing hundreds and causing injury to hundreds more within the Nairobi area, along the coast, and in the northeastern region of the country. Most of these attacks occurred in northeastern Kenya, mainly in Wajir, Garissa, and Mandera counties. The most deadly of these took place on April 2 at the Garissa University College, where al-Shabaab terrorists killed 148 people, primarily students, and wounded many others. Al-Shabaab targets have included government sites, such as police stations and police vehicles, and soft targets including public transportation, nightclubs and bars, religious institutions, universities, and shopping areas.

Grenade and improvised explosive device attacks have occurred in Nairobi, inculding the January 2014 attack at a restaurant in the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. In 2014 and 2015, the Mombasa area had at least eight such attacks. Two occurred in May 2014, one of which targeted a local resort frequented by Westerners.

In September 2013, al-Shabaab attacked the Westgate Shopping Mall in Nairobi, killing at least 67 people, both Kenyan and non-Kenyan nationals, and wounding hundreds of others, including five U.S. citizens who were confirmed injured.

Kenyan security services have disrupted several other terrorist plots throughout the country, which may have prevented additional deaths and injury from terrorist attacks. Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, some of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region.

Ethnic clashes sometimes occur in various parts of Kenya, primarily in the rural areas of the country. These clashes are often fueled by disagreements over land or ownership of cattle. While this violence is not directed at foreigners, ethnic clashes and protests are unpredictable and may affect non-Kenyans. U.S. citizens are advised to check conditions and monitor local media reports before traveling to these areas.

Kidnappings of Westerners have occurred in Kenya in the past. In April 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.

As part of a wide-ranging security operation that began in 2014, refugees, primarily Somalis, in Nairobi and other cities were 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 events and threats, the U.S. Embassy has restricted travel for U.S. government personnel to the Nairobi neighborhood of Eastleigh, to all coastal counties – Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu - and the coastal portion only of Tana River County, the coastal area north of Pate Island, including Kiwavu and north to Kiunga on the Kenya-Somalia border, and northeastern Kenya, including the cities of El Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Mandera, and Liboi. Travel to these restricted areas by any U.S. Embassy personnel must be pre-approved by appropriate Embassy offices. The Embassy continues to consider carefully all U.S. government-sponsored regional conferences and trainings in Nairobi and the number of temporary duty personnel coming to the country for official purposes. In addition, the Embassy relocated some staff to other countries in June and July of 2014 due to the security situation. As of July 2014, the Peace Corps suspended its volunteer activities in Kenya and all Peace Corps Volunteers in Kenya departed the country due to the security situation. The Peace Corps will continue to assess the security situation in Kenya and return when conditions permit.

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 prevent a “wrong place, wrong time” scenario in the event of an attack as well as ensuring that 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, contact the Embassy duty officer at (+254) (20) 363-6000.

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. 

5. Mali Travel Warning

Posted on 7 May 2015 | 11:52 am
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Mali.

We especially 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. The potential for attacks throughout the country, including in Bamako, remains. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated January 13, 2015. 

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 al-Murabitun are present in northern Mali. While these extremist elements have been mostly dislodged from the major population centers of Gao and Timbuktu, they continue to conduct attacks targeting security forces in and around these locations.

During the past year, 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. 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 increased their rhetoric calling for additional attacks or kidnapping attempts on westerners and others, particularly those linked to support for international military intervention.

While the security situation in Bamako and southern Mali has been relatively stable, on March 7, there was an armed attack on La Terrasse, a nightclub in the Hippodrome area of Bamako, in which a French citizen, a Belgian citizen, and three Malian citizens were killed. The Government of Mali has increased security in the capital, but the potential for additional attacks targeting Westerners in the capital city and throughout the country remains. Police harassment and violent crime in Bamako persist, including several armed carjacking incidents, one of which resulted in the death of a French citizen.

Following the 2012 unrest, most international organizations resumed operations and allowed family members and staff to return, but with renewed focus on exercising caution and putting into place varying levels of security restrictions. While the U.S. Embassy is operating normally, it 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 available 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 avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gatherings when visiting locations frequented by westerners, in and around Bamako. Periodic public demonstrations occur throughout Mali. While most demonstrations are peaceful, a few have become confrontational. 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 particular warnings or events. Such actions will be shared with the private U.S. citizen community through the Embassy's website.

U.S. citizens planning to travel to Mali despite this Travel Warning, 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.

Citizens should also note that the U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Mali due to hazards associated with ongoing fighting involving military forces, militant groups, and the unstable security situation in the country. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has advised U.S. civil aviation to avoid flying below a certain altitude in the airspace over Mali. For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.

In late 2014, Mali saw its first Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) case. However, there was limited transmission of EVD in Mali, and, on January 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed the Travel Notice for Mali regarding EVD. On January 18, the World Health Organization declared Mali EVD-free. Persons whose travel originated in Mali will no longer be subject to enhanced screening and monitoring when entering the United States, nor will they be required to enter the country through designated airports. The CDC has also removed the Alert Level 2 Travel Notice for Mali, which advised travelers to practice enhanced precautions when visiting Mali. For further health information for Travelers to Mali, visit the CDC website.

Travelers departing Mali via Senou International Airport in Bamako should, however, be aware that the Government of Mali continues to conduct outbound airport screening procedures because of the recent presence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Mali. Travelers should consider arriving at the airport at least three hours in advance of their flight and consult relevant authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security, for the most up-to-date information. Travelers are encouraged to check with their airline for any changes and cancellations prior to travelling to the airport.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside 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.

6. Eritrea Travel Warning

Posted on 5 May 2015 | 9:12 pm
The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea.

The Government of Eritrea continues to restrict the travel of all foreign nationals, including U.S. diplomats posted in Asmara.  Consequently, the U.S. Embassy cannot guarantee its ability to provide emergency consular assistance outside of Asmara.  In addition, contrary to its obligations under the Vienna Convention, the Government of Eritrea does not notify the U.S. Embassy when a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested.  U.S. citizens of Eritrean ethnicity are often subject to the same laws and obligations as Eritrean nationals, particularly those who enter the country using their Eritrean identity card in lieu of a U.S. passport with an Eritrean visa.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Eritrea dated September 12, 2014.

The Eritrean government continues to restrict the travel of all foreign nationals.  These restrictions require all visitors and residents, including U.S. diplomats, to apply 10 days in advance for permission to travel beyond 25 kilometers (15 miles) of Asmara’s city limits.  While permission is often granted for popular tourist destinations such as Massawa and Keren, requests to travel near the border areas, particularly with Ethiopia and Djibouti, are regularly denied.  Requests by U.S. diplomats to travel to areas outside of Asmara are also routinely turned down, thus impairing the ability of consular officers to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in areas outside Asmara. 

Travelers should be aware that travel permits are valid for the approved final destination only, and do not allow for stops along the way to or in the proximity of the approved destination.  In addition, travel to religious institutions, such as monasteries, requires separate travel permissions 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.

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 contested border area, and because of the military tensions between the two countries.  U.S. citizens should also avoid travel to the contested Eritrea-Djibouti border region, where troops from Qatar patrol this area and tensions remain high.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance remain a serious problem in parts of the country.  Some areas still have not been certified free of mines and unexploded ordnance following the 30-year war of 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.

Eritrea has complicated citizenship laws and does not recognize renunciation of Eritrean citizenship.  U.S. citizens born in Eritrea to Eritrean parents or who in other ways may have Eritrean origins are required by the Government of Eritrea to register with the Immigration and Nationality Office in Asmara within seven business days of their entry into the country.  The Eritrean government sometimes subjects U.S. citizens of Eritrean ethnicity to the same entry/exit requirements as Eritrean citizens, including obtaining an exit permit.  Dual nationals, who enter the country on Eritrean travel documents, including a national ID, are treated as Eritrean citizens, regardless of their dual citizenship status and may be subject to additional obligations.  Dual nationals may not be able to obtain Eritrean civil documents, such as birth and death certificates, marriage and divorce documents, educational transcripts, or property ownership records, without proof of payment of the two percent government diaspora tax.

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 to their point of origin on the next flight unless prior arrangements were made for an airport visa. 

In connection with the May 24 Independence Day holiday, travelers will notice an increase in the presence of military and police personnel throughout Asmara during the months of April and May.  It is during these two months that military and police personnel most frequently check documentation. 

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. 

Piracy on the Red Sea continues to occur and recreational vessels are strongly encouraged to avoid the region.  Commercial vessels without explicit agreements with Eritrean authorities are urged to avoid Eritrean territorial waters.  The Eritrean government has, as recently as December 2013, seized ships which do not hold such agreement.  These seizures have resulted in lengthy detentions of international crew members, including U.S. nationals.  U.S. citizens are cautioned that commercial/tourist ships are not allowed to dock at some Eritrean ports, even to refuel.  The Eritrean government has not granted the U.S. Coast Guard access to Eritrean ports to assess safety and security conditions despite repeated requests to do so.  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.

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 sometimes lack power, and internet service is often very slow, unreliable, and does not support Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services such as Skype.

The U.S. Embassy in Asmara urges citizens who travel 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. 

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Eritrea 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 consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Asmara is open for all U.S. citizen services on Thursday afternoon by appointment only.  In the case of an emergency, please contact the Embassy for an emergency appointment.  The U.S. Embassy in Asmara is located at 179 Alaa Street, P.O. Box 211, Asmara, Eritrea; telephone (291) (1) 120-004, available 24 hours a day in case of emergency; fax (291) (1) 124-255 and (291) (1) 127-584.

7. Mexico Travel Warning

Posted on 5 May 2015 | 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 victims 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 April 13, 2015, 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. Crime and violence are serious problems and can occur anywhere, and 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 81 in 2013 and 100 in 2014.

Gun battles between rival criminal organizations or with Mexican authorities have taken place in towns and cities in many parts of Mexico, and 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 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. More than 130 kidnappings of U.S. citizens were reported to the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Mexico between January and November of 2014.

U.S. citizens are encouraged to lower their personal profiles and to avoid displaying indicators of wealth such as 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, sports books, 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, Tamaulipas, Jalisco, Colima and Nayarit.

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.

Demonstrations are common and occur in all parts of the country. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. Protesters in Mexico may block traffic on roads, including major thoroughfares, or take control of toll booths on highways. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise caution if in the vicinity of any protests. Travelers who encounter protestors demanding unofficial tolls are generally allowed to pass upon payment. Travelers are urged not to exit from major highways. U.S. Citizens should avoid participating in demonstrations and other activities that might be deemed political by the authorities as the Mexican Constitution prohibits political activities by foreigners; such actions may result in detention and/or deportation.

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. Personal travel by motor vehicle is permitted during daylight hours on Highway 15 toll road between Hermosillo and Nogales, on Highway 45 between Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua City, and on the main roads between Palomas, Chihuahua and Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua.

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. Travel at night is prohibited for U.S. government personnel in some states as indicated below.

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: Exercise caution when traveling to the areas of the state that border the state of Zacatecas, as criminal organization activity in that region continues.

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 is a continuing security concern. According to the Baja State Secretariat for Public Security, from January to October 2014 Tijuana and Rosarito experienced increasing homicide rates compared to the same period in the previous year. 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 – Exercise caution in the state capital of La Paz. According to the Department of Interior of Mexico, in 2013 Baja California Sur registered its highest homicide rate since 1997. Many of these homicides occurred in La Paz, where there has been an increase in organized crime-related violence.

Campeche: No advisory is in effect.

Chiapas: Palenque and San Cristobal de las Casas are major cities/travel destinations 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, the central downtown section and major industrial parks in the city of Chihuahua, the town of Palomas, the urban area of the city of Ojinaga, and the towns of Nuevo Casas Grandes and Casas Grandes and their immediate environs. Travel to the Nuevo Casas Grandes area should be through the Palomas port of entry (POE) on U.S. Highway 11, continuing south until reaching Mexico Highway 2 west to Nuevo Casas Grandes. Travel to Ojinaga should be on the U.S. side via U.S. Highway 67 through the Presidio POE. Defer non-essential travel to other areas in the state of Chihuahua and travel between cities only on major highways and only during daylight hours. 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.

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 crime, including murder, kidnapping, and armed carjacking.

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, and personal travel by U.S. government personnel is not permitted in this area.

Durango: Exercise caution in the state of Durango. 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 travel outside the city of Durango only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must return to the city of Durango to abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

Estado de Mexico: Toluca and Teotihuacan are major travel destinations in Estado de Mexico - Exercise caution in the State of Mexico. Many areas of the state have seen high levels of crime and insecurity as organized criminal groups have expanded their activities from the states of Guerrero and Michoacán, and have also experienced high levels of street crime. The September 2014 INEGI crime victimization survey indicated that the State of Mexico had the highest incidence of crime in Mexico, with 47,778 victims per 100,000. Due to high rates of crime and insecurity, 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. Defer non-essential travel to the municipality of Tlatlaya in the southwest portion of the state and 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, due to high rates of crime and insecurity.

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, Ixtapa, and Zihuatanejo. Travel to Acapulco and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo only by air or cruise ship, exercise caution, and remain in tourist areas. Travel in and out of Acapulco by air and cruise ship is permitted for U.S. government personnel. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling within Guerrero state by land, including via the 95D toll road (“cuota”) to/from Mexico City and Acapulco, as well as highway 200 between Acapulco and Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo. In Acapulco, defer non-essential travel to areas further than two 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 Krystal Beach Acapulco hotel in the north and going south through Puerto Marquez, including the Playa Diamante area and ending at The Resort at Mundo Imperial hotel. In general, the popular tourist area of Diamante, just south of the city, has been less affected by violence. 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. 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 – Exercise caution throughout the state, particularly in rural areas and when using secondary highways. Violent clashes between criminal organizations and government authorities, and related disturbances including barricades of burning vehicles blocking major roads and highways, are ongoing concerns that typically occur without notice. 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. U.S. government personnel are authorized to use Federal toll road 15D for travel to Mexico City; however, they may not stop in the town of La Barca for any reason. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from personal travel to areas of Jalisco that border Zacatecas, and are prohibited from intercity travel at night.

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. Armed members of some 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 self-defense 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. Numerous incidents of organized crime-related violence have also occurred in the city of Cuernavaca.

Nayarit: The Riviera Nayarit coast, including the cities of Tepic, Xalisco, and San Blas, is a major travel destination in 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.

Nuevo Leon: Monterrey is a major city/travel destination in Nuevo Leon – Exercise caution in the state of Nuevo Leon. Although the level of organized crime-related violence and general insecurity in Monterrey has decreased dramatically within the last two years, sporadic incidents of violence have occurred. 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. U.S. government personnel and their dependents may travel outside the city of Monterrey only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must return to the city of San Pedro Garza Garcia municipal boundaries to abide by a curfew of 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: Exercise caution in the state of San Luis Potosi. U.S. government personnel may travel outside the City of San Luis Potosi only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must return to the city of San Luis Potosi to abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

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 in Tamaulipas. Defer all non-essential travel to the state of Tamaulipas. Throughout the state violent crime, including homicide, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, pose significant safety risks. State and municipal law enforcement capacity is limited to nonexistent in many parts of Tamaulipas. 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. Violent criminal activity occurs more frequently along the northern border. While no highway routes through Tamaulipas are considered safe, the highways between Matamoros-Ciudad Victoria, Reynosa-Ciudad Victoria, Ciudad Victoria-Tampico, Monterrey-Nuevo Laredo, Matamoros-Reynosa, and Monterrey-Reynosa, are more prone to criminal activity. Organized criminal groups sometimes target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas. These groups sometimes take all passengers hostage and demand ransom payments. In Tamaulipas, U.S. government employees are subject to movement restrictions and a curfew 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. The number of reported kidnappings in 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 2014 has also increased.

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.

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

Zacatecas: Exercise caution in the state of Zacatecas. Robberies, carjackings, and organized criminal activity remain a concern. U.S. government personnel may travel outside the city of Zacatecas only during daylight hours on toll roads, and must return to the city of Zacatecas to abide by a curfew of 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.

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.

8. Central African Republic Travel Warning

Posted on 1 May 2015 | 3:05 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR).

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. citizens who have decided to stay in CAR despite this warning should review their personal security situation and seriously consider departing.  This replaces the Travel Warning of November 5, 2014, to reflect the risk of remaining in CAR and continued lack of security. 

In March 2013, the Seleka rebel group overthrew the government of the Central African Republic.  Despite the eventual creation of a transitional government in January 2014, an on-going peace and political transition process, and the presence of international peacekeepers, the security situation remains highly unstable.  The sudden outbreak of violence in October 2014 serves as a reminder that the security situation is subject to rapid deterioration.  Instability may be heightened as the political transition process unfolds around the upcoming Bangui Forum, constitutional referendum, and elections.  Secretary Kerry announced the resumption of limited operations at the U.S. Embassy in Bangui on September 15, 2014.  However, Embassy Bangui cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR at this time.  U.S. citizens in need of routine assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon by email to YaoundeACS@state.gov. 

U.S. citizens in CAR in need of emergency assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon; Telephone: 237 2220-1500 ext. 4341/4023 (Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. local time) Emergencies: 237 2220-1500, ext. 4531 or 237 2222-25-89; 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.

9. Nepal Travel Warning

Posted on 1 May 2015 | 2:58 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Nepal and recommends that they defer non-essential travel there following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake on April 25.

On May 2, 2015, the Department of State approved authorized departure for non-emergency U.S. government personnel and dependents.  The U.S. Department of State also recommends that U.S. citizens in Nepal exercise caution when traveling in or planning departure from the country.  The possibility for aftershocks of significant magnitude persists.  Infrastructure is fragile and access to basic resources, including healthcare, could be limited.  Cell phone and internet service are intermittent. In Kathmandu and elsewhere, some buildings are collapsed and some roads are impassable, making transportation difficult.  Some areas of the city are crowded with displaced persons.  Kathmandu and Lukla airports have been re-opened since the earthquake.  However, the airports may close temporarily without notice due to aftershocks or inclement weather.  We encourage travelers to contact their airlines to confirm flight availability before departing for the airport.  This replaces the Travel Alert dated April 27, 2015.

The U.S. Department of State encourages U.S. citizens in Nepal, and their friends and family who might be located elsewhere, to closely monitor the media as well as the Nepal Crisis Page to determine next steps. 

The CDC has posted a warning to avoid nonessential travel to Nepal.  Health information for Nepal is available from the CDC website.

If you are in Nepal and are safe, please contact your family and friends to let them know your situation.

The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu is located in the Maharajgunj neighborhood of Kathmandu.  U.S. citizens in Nepal who need assistance can contact the U.S. Embassy by e-mail at ConsKTM@state.gov or by phone at +977 1 423 4500.  U.S. citizens in Nepal and their family and friends elsewhere should stay up to date on consular information by periodically checking Travel Information and Messages for U.S. citizens in Nepal.  

U.S. citizens in Nepal should limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, enroll their presence in Nepal through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information. You may inform the Department of State of U.S. citizens located in Nepal by visiting https://tfa.state.gov/ccd, selecting “2015 Nepal Earthquake,” and providing as much information as possible.  You can also contact us at NepalEmergencyUSC@state.gov if you have additional questions or concerns.  You can also contact us at 1-888-407-4747 (from the U.S. & Canada), +1-202-501-4444 (from overseas). 

For additional information, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Nepal. 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.

10. Iraq Travel Warning

Posted on 29 April 2015 | 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 Consulates General in Basrah and Erbil are open and operating. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated August 10, 2014. 

U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence. Terrorists’ 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. When such attacks occur, they frequently take place in public gathering places such as cafes, markets, and other public venues.

Numerous insurgent groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), remain active and terrorist activity and violence persists in many areas of the country. ISIL controls Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, as well as significant territory in northern, western, and central Iraq, particularly along the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, and the group continues to attack Iraqi security forces in those areas. Terrorist attacks within the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR) occur less frequently than in other parts of Iraq, although the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and western interests remain likely targets. In addition, several anti-U.S. sectarian militia groups, such as the Shia Kataib Hezbollah (KH) and Asaib Ahl al-Haq (AAH) are operating throughout Iraq and may present a threat to U.S. citizens.

Due to the potential for 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 and Consulates. State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details. Detailed security information is available on 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, their movement is restricted and they travel 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 entering or traveling within Iraq with invalid documents. For more information about entry/exit requirements for U.S. citizens, please see our Country Specific Information page for Iraq.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has determined that U.S. civil aviation flying in Iraqi airspace is at risk from ongoing combat operations involving military forces (military aerial combat operations and other militarily-related activity) and militant groups. As a result, the FAA currently prohibits U.S. civil aviation from operating in or overflying Iraqi airspace with very limited exceptions. Foreign airlines operating in Iraq may cancel their operations without warning due to the security environment or other factors. Travelers should remain vigilant and reconfirm all flight schedules with their airline prior to commencing any travel. For further background information regarding FAA prohibitions on U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices website.

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 mountainous 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 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 Iraq’s 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 extremely limited given the security environment. The U.S. Consulate General in Basrah cannot provide routine services such as passport applications, notary services, or 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 General in Erbil. The Embassy's website 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 or 0770-030-4888.

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 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 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 and 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 International Zone in Baghdad, where photography is forbidden.

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 possible 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 at www.travel.state.gov, 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.

11. North Korea Travel Warning

Posted on 23 April 2015 | 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 May 14, 2014, to reiterate and highlight the risk of arrest and possibly lengthy detention due to the DPRK’s inconsistent application of its criminal laws.

Travel by U.S. citizens to North Korea is not routine, and U.S. citizens have been subject to arrest and long-term detention for actions that would not be cause for arrest in the United States or other countries. 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 or intentionally crossed into DPRK territory without valid visas. The Department of State has received reports of DPRK authorities detaining U.S. citizens without charges and not allowing them to depart the country. North Korea has even detained several U.S. citizens who were part of organized tours. Do not assume that joining a group tour or using a tour guide will prevent North Korean authorities from detaining you or arresting you. 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 extremely heavy fines on persons who violated DPRK laws, such as entering the country illegally. 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 unsanctioned religious or political activities, 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. GPS-trackers and satellite phones are not allowed. 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. 

12. Yemen Travel Warning

Posted on 3 April 2015 | 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.

On February 11, 2015 due to the deteriorating security situation in Sanaa, the Department of State suspended embassy operations and U.S. Embassy Sanaa American staff have been relocated out of the country. All consular services, routine and/or emergency, have been suspended until further notice. The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart when you are able to safely do so. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on February 11, 2015.

The level of instability and ongoing threats in Yemen remain severe.  There are no plans for a U.S. government-coordinated evacuation of U.S. citizens at this time. We encourage all U.S. citizens to shelter in a secure location until they are able to depart safely. U.S. citizens wishing to depart should do so via commercial transportation options when they become available. Keep vital records and travel documents close at hand; U.S. citizens should be prepared to depart at a moment’s notice.  The airports are currently closed, but may open unexpectedly; other unforeseen opportunities to depart may also suddenly arise.

Additionally, some foreign governments may arrange transportation for their nationals and may be willing to offer assistance to others.  There is no guarantee that foreign governments will assist U.S. citizens in leaving Yemen.  U.S. citizens who choose to seek foreign government assistance in leaving Yemen should only do so if they can safely make their way to the point of embarkation and have received confirmation that there is space available.  Even if assured there is space aboard transportation, U.S. citizens should be aware that there is no guarantee that they will be permitted to board the transport, or may have to wait an indefinite period until they can do so.  There is also no guarantee of where travelers will go. For U.S. citizen inquiries, you may send an email to YEMENEMERGENCYUSC@state.gov.

Terrorist organizations, including Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen. The U.S. government remains extremely 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. 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.

The U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating in Yemen’s Sanaa Flight Information Region (FIR) due to ongoing military operations, political instability, and violence from competing armed groups involved in combat operations and other military-related activity associated with the unrest. The fighting and instability spans a large area of Yemen, which creates a significant risk to the safe operation of U.S. civil aviation.  FAA prohibits U.S. civil flight operations in the Sanaa FIR, which includes the entire country of Yemen and extends into adjacent international airspace, at all altitudes.

For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

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. You may inform the Department of State of U.S. citizens located in Yemen by visiting https://tfa.state.gov/ccd, selecting “2015 Yemen Unrest,” and providing as much information as possible.  You can also contact us at 1-888-407-4747 (from the U.S. & Canada), +1-202-501-4444 (from overseas), and YemenEmergencyUSC@state.gov if you have additional questions or concerns.

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). 

13. Syria Travel Warning

Posted on 3 March 2015 | 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 November 12, 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 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. Department of State is concerned about the risks to civil aviation operating in the Damascus Flight Information Region (FIR) because of the ongoing armed conflict and volatile security environment. This FIR includes all the airspace over Syria and extends into adjacent international airspace.  A number of armed extremist groups are known to be equipped with a variety of antiaircraft weapons that have the capability to threaten civil aircraft.  The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has prohibited U.S. civil aviation from flying in the Damascus FIR. In addition, U.S. government personnel in Lebanon have been prohibited from taking flights that pass through the Damascus FIR. For additional background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

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.

14. Honduras Travel Warning

Posted on 2 March 2015 | 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, although it has declined in the past two years.

This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated June 2014 and includes additional information on crime and security in Honduras, as well as updated contact information.

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens that the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high, although it has declined in the past two years. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated June 2014 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. 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. The police may take hours to arrive at the scene of a violent crime or may not respond at all. Members of the Honduran National Police have been arrested, tried, and convicted for criminal activities. Many more are under investigation. 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.

Honduras has had one of the highest murder rates in the world for the last five years. The U.S. Embassy has recorded more than 100 murders of U.S. citizens since 2002. Many cases over the last 14 years are still awaiting trial. The vast majority of serious crimes in Honduras, including those against U.S. citizens, are never solved. In 2014, there were ten murders of U.S. citizens reported to the U.S. Embassy with seven of the ten resulting in arrests or prosecutions.

U.S. citizens are victims of crime at levels similar to those of the local population, and they do not appear to be targeted based on their nationality. The Government of Honduras has special police forces in areas frequented by tourists, such as the Copan Mayan ruins and Roatan. The Honduran Government is implementing similar programs for other locations, including La Ceiba and Trujillo, and major hotels and other tourist installations have increased private and police security. Most resort areas and tourist destinations have lower levels of crime and violence than other areas of the country; however, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur, and rates are still high by international standards.

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. Armed men have forced vehicles transporting tourists off the road and robbed the victims, occasionally assaulting the driver or passengers. In past years, several U.S. citizens have been murdered in San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba shortly after arriving in the country. Assaults in these areas may be based on tips from sources at airport arrival areas, so visitors are strongly urged to exercise caution in discussing travel plans in public. Exercise particular caution walking on isolated beaches, especially at night. Several U.S. citizens have reported being robbed while walking on isolated beaches.

Kidnappings and disappearances are an ongoing concern throughout the country as well. Kidnapping affects both the local and expatriate communities, with victims sometimes paying large ransoms for the prospect of release. Kidnapping is 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.

Transnational criminal organizations also conduct narcotics trafficking and other unlawful activities throughout the country and use 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.

 Roatan & Bay Islands

Roatan and the Bay Islands are geographically separated from Honduras and experience lower crime rates than the Honduras mainland. The national government of Honduras, Roatan authorities, and businesses took measures in 2014 to improve tourism security. However, as on the mainland, thefts, break-ins, assaults, rapes, and murders do occur, and you should exercise caution, especially at night. If staying at a hotel resort, book tours and sightseeing through the resort or reputable tour companies. Coxen Hole on the island of Roatan should be avoided after dark.

If you are traveling on a Cruise ship, you should also take safety precautions, avoid unfamiliar areas, and take care to book only with reputable tour companies during your stopover in Honduras. Cruise lines and port agencies work with approved tour companies to offer packages. Additionally, the port agencies at Mahogany Bay and Towne Center have worked to improve taxi service to and from the ports. The vast majority of cruise line passengers in Honduras experience no problems, but incidents of armed robbery and carjacking have been reported.

Precautions While in Honduras

Be vigilant of your surroundings at all times and in all locations, especially when entering or exiting your home, hotel, car, garage, school, and workplace. Whenever possible, travel in groups of two or more. You should also avoid wearing jewelry and carrying large sums of money or displaying cash, ATM/credit cards, or other valuables. Avoid walking at night in most areas of Honduras or walking alone on beaches, historic ruins, and trails. Incidents of crime along roads, including carjacking and kidnapping, are also common in Honduras. Motorists should avoid traveling at night and always drive with the 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. All travelers should 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 2014, including:

DEPARTMENT                   CAPITAL

Atlántida                          La Ceiba

Colón                              Trujillo

Cortés                              San Pedro Sula

Francisco Morazan             Tegucigalpa

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.

Getting Informed before Traveling

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 for the latest Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts.

The Embassy strongly encourages U.S. citizens living or traveling in Honduras to sign up for 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.

Contact Information

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:     http://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:     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.

15. Chad Travel Warning

Posted on 26 February 2015 | 2:23 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Chad and recommends citizens avoid travel to all border regions, particularly those areas adjacent to Chad’s eastern border and the Lake Chad region.

The entire Lake Chad region, not only along Chad’s border with Nigeria, is especially vulnerable because of rising activities by the extremist terrorist group Boko Haram. Chad’s historically volatile security environment can deteriorate unexpectedly, especially along the border areas. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Chad, dated January 6, 2015, to update U.S. citizens on the current security situation in Chad.

The ability of the U.S. embassy to provide consular services in remote and rural areas is limited. U.S. citizens should take steps to mitigate the risk of becoming a victim of violent crime, and maintain caution at public gathering spaces and locations frequented by foreigners, including markets, restaurants, bars, and places of worship. 

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. 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. In addition, U.S. citizens are strongly urged to adhere closely to the policies and procedures of their host organizations to mitigate risks of becoming the victim of violent crime. All U.S. citizens should prepare personal evacuation or safe-haven plans and be prepared to implement those plans on short notice. 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 Government of Chad has limited means to guarantee the safety of visitors in rural Chad. Incidents of robbery, carjacking at gunpoint, and murder have been reported in N’Djamena and throughout the country. Violence is also associated with car accidents where crowds may form. If involved in an accident, it is essential to call the police. 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. Kidnapping for ransom is a potential threat in the region.

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, U.S. citizens should consider taking similar precautions when making travel plans. 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. 

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

U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Chad despite this Travel Warning are urged to contact the U.S. Embassy in N'Djamena 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 N’Djamena located on Avenue Felix Eboue 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. For after-hours emergencies, U.S. citizens in Chad should call +235 6662-2100 and ask to speak with the duty officer. 

For further information, consult the Department of State website which contains the Country Specific Information for Chad and the current Worldwide Caution. 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.

16. Algeria Travel Warning

Posted on 24 February 2015 | 8:25 pm
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to the Kabylie region and remote areas of southern and eastern Algeria.

This replaces the Travel Warning for Algeria dated August 13, 2014, to update information on the current security situation in Algeria. 

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, as noted in the Department of State's latest Worldwide Caution. Although the major cities are heavily policed, attacks are still possible. The majority of terrorist attacks, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes occur in the mountainous areas to the east of Algiers (Kabylie region and eastern wilayas) and in the expansive Saharan desert regions of the south and southeast. In September, the ISIL-affiliated Jund al-Khalifa (Soldiers of the Caliphate) abducted and beheaded a French citizen, in the Kabylie region.

Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) are also both active in Algeria and the region. 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, near the Libyan border, holding foreign and Algerian workers hostage for four days with dozens killed, including three U.S. citizens. Mokhtar Belmokhtar and AQIM’s emir, Abdelmalik Droukdel, remain a threat and are at-large in the region. In addition, there have been kidnappings for ransom by terrorist groups operating in the trans-Sahara region. There are also extremists along the Algeria/Tunisia border in the Chaambi mountains area, south of Souk Ahras, and Algerian and Tunisian security forces are conducting ongoing security operations there.

The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid overland travel to the areas east of Algiers or in the Sahara. It is prudent to be cautious when traveling outside of Algiers and to ensure reliable and experienced transportation and logistical support. All employees of foreign companies or organizations based in Algeria who are not Algerian citizens must contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before engaging in any travel within the interior of the country; the Ministry will notify local police of the planned travel and the police may choose to assign escorts for that travel. Travelers should avoid mountainous regions located in less populated and less traveled areas where Algerian security services do not have a significant presence.

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 security restrictions. The U.S. Department of State permits U.S. diplomats in Algeria to be accompanied only by adult family members, and children under age 12. Embassy travel restrictions limit and occasionally prevent the movement of U.S. Embassy officials and the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country. Likewise, the Government of Algeria requires U.S. Embassy personnel to seek permission to travel outside the wilaya of Algiers and provides police escorts. Travel to the military zone established around the Hassi Messaoud oil center requires Government of Algeria authorization.

For additional information on travel to Algeria, see the U.S. Department of State’s Country-Specific Information for Algeria.

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, 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 consular section email is ACSAlgiers@state.gov

17. Saudi Arabia Travel Warning

Posted on 24 February 2015 | 7:58 pm
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of traveling to Saudi Arabia.

There have been recent attacks on U.S. citizens and other Western expatriates, an attack on Shi’ite Muslims outside a community center in the Eastern Province on November 3, 2014, and continuing reports of threats against U.S. citizens and other Westerners in the Kingdom. This replaces the Travel Warning issued August 8, 2014.

Security threats are increasing and terrorist groups, some affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), have targeted both Saudi and Western interests. Possible targets include housing compounds, hotels, shopping areas, international schools, and other facilities where Westerners congregate, as well as Saudi government facilities and economic/commercial targets within the Kingdom.

On January 30, 2015, two U.S. citizens were fired upon and injured in Hofuf in Al Hasa Governorate (Eastern Province). The U.S. Embassy has instructed U.S. government personnel and their families to avoid all travel to Al Hasa Governorate, and advises all U.S. citizens to do the same. On October 14, 2014, two U.S. citizens were shot at a gas station in Riyadh. One was killed and the other wounded.

Attacks on other nationalities have increased. On November 29, 2014, a Canadian national was assaulted by a lone attacker with a cleaver at a shopping mall in Dhahran. On November 22, 2014, a Danish national was shot and injured in Riyadh by alleged ISIL supporters. On November 3, 2014, armed assailants attacked a community center in Dalwah in the Al Hasa Governorate, killing at least seven people and injuring several others. ISIL claimed responsibility for the attack. 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 Governorate in the Eastern Province. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to Awamiyah, and we recommend private U.S. citizens avoid the area as well.

Armed assailants have attacked border checkpoints in the north and south. Two Saudi security forces were killed and one wounded during an attack on January 5, 2015 in Arar, along the border with Iraq. Further, 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.

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

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.

18. Pakistan Travel Warning

Posted on 24 February 2015 | 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 August 8, 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 remains 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, and these measures may vary from day to day. 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 December 16, 2014, armed militants wearing paramilitary uniforms and suicide vests attacked an Army-run school in Peshawar, killing at least 140, mostly children. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility. On November 2, a suicide bomber killed at least 60 people at the Wagah border crossing with India. Pakistani Taliban splinter group Jamaat-ul-Ahraar claimed responsibility. On September 6, Pakistani naval security thwarted a terrorist attack on Karachi Naval Dockyard. One sailor and two attackers died in a firefight, while security forces captured four attackers. The terrorists reportedly planned to hijack a naval frigate.

On June 24, 2014, 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 June 4, a suicide bomber attacked an Army vehicle at a railway crossing in Feteh Jang, some 15 miles from Islamabad, killing five persons, including two lieutenant colonels. On May 25, armed men attacked a check-post along the Quetta-Karachi Highway in Wadh tehsil of Khuzdar District, Balochistan, killing at least eight Balochistan Levies officials and injuring three others.

On May 25, 2014, a bomb attack on a security convoy in the Pandiyali tehsil of Mohmand Agency killed six security personnel and injured three others. 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. On February 13, a suicide bomber targeted a bus of police officers, killing at least 13 and injuring 58 others near Razzakabad Police Training Center in Shah Latif Town, Karachi. On January 21, a bomb attack on a bus of Hazara pilgrims killed at least 24 and injured 40 others in Mastung District, Balochistan.

In 2013, there were 355 distinct terror incidents throughout Pakistan.

Targeted killings continue unabated in Karachi as a result of ethno-political and criminal 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. Some of the calls allege involvement by law enforcement.

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 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. U.S. citizens have also been abducted by terrorists, or abducted by criminal elements and then sold to terrorists, and held hostage for multiple years. 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. Consulate General in Karachi might also encounter harassment from host government officials. Citing security concerns, host-government intelligence officials frequently stop U.S. citizens outside the Consulate 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 before travelling to Pakistan and at all times while in Pakistan. All U.S. citizens regardless of age must have a valid passport and visa for Pakistan, unless they have a Pakistani passport. U.S. citizens throughout Pakistan have been arrested, deported, harassed, and detained for overstaying their Pakistani visas or for traveling to Pakistan without the appropriate visa classification. U.S. citizens who attempt to renew or extend their visas while in Pakistan have been left without legal status for an extended period of time and subjected to harassment or interrogation by local authorities. The U.S. Embassy and Consulates General can provide very limited assistance to U.S. citizens who have overstayed their Pakistani visas. Since 2011, the number of U.S. citizens arrested, detained, and prosecuted for visa overstays has increased across the country.

U.S. citizens occasionally notify the Embassy that they are unable to depart the country because their names have been added to the Exit Control List (ECL). The U.S. Embassy is unable to assist in such cases, which must be resolved through Pakistani legal channels.

Security threats might, on short notice, temporarily restrict the ability of the U.S. Missions 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 Consulate General in Karachi. 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://islamabad.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.

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.

19. Israel, The West Bank and Gaza Travel Warning

Posted on 18 February 2015 | 2:27 pm
The security environment remains complex in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, and U.S. citizens need to be aware of the continuing risks of travel to these areas, particularly to areas described in this Travel Warning where there are heightened tensions and security risks.

The security situation can change day to day, depending on the political situation, recent events, and geographic area. A rise in political tensions and violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank has resulted in injuries to and deaths of U.S. citizens. In view of the ongoing security situation, the Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority make considerable efforts to police major tourist attractions and ensure security in areas where foreigners frequently travel. Although threat mitigation efforts by authorities are not 100 percent effective, hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Israel and the West Bank each year for study, tourism, and business. 

The Department of State strongly warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Gaza Strip; U.S. government employees are not allowed to conduct official or personal travel there. U.S. government personnel require special security arrangements if traveling inside Israel within seven kilometers of the Gaza demarcation line. With the exception of Jericho and Bethlehem, U.S. government employees are prohibited from personal travel to the West Bank. Due to security concerns, U.S. government employees are prohibited from using public buses throughout Israel and the West Bank, and must obtain advance approval if they wish to travel within 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) of the Lebanon border, or travel on or east of Route 98 in the Golan Heights. U.S. citizens should take into consideration the following information, including the rules governing travel in this region by U.S. government employees. This replaces the Travel Warning issued September 10, 2014.

Major Metropolitan Areas

Personal safety conditions in major metropolitan areas, including Tel Aviv and Haifa and surrounding regions, are comparable to other major global cities. Nonetheless, the July-August 2014 Gaza conflict (see below) and subsequent political and religious tension associated with access to the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem led to increased levels of violence, particularly in Jerusalem and West Bank environs, not seen in those areas in a decade. Attacks on individuals and groups have occurred in East and West Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Bethlehem, as well as various places in the West Bank. We have no indication that U.S. citizens have been specifically targeted based on their nationality, however U.S. citizens have been directly affected. Six U.S. citizen residents of Israel and the West Bank were killed and others injured in multiple attacks in 2014. U.S. citizens involved in or observing political demonstrations have sustained serious injuries and the Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all demonstrations for their own safety. Due to security concerns, U.S. government employees are prohibited from using public buses in Israel and the West Bank. See below for specific safety and security information regarding Gaza, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and near Israel’s northern borders.

Travelers should be aware of the risks presented by the potential for military conflict between Hamas and Israel. During the conflict in Gaza in July and August 2014, 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. The Government of Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system successfully intercepted many rockets. However, missile impacts also caused deaths, injuries, and property damage. There have been additional small arms fire and mortar and rocket launches from Gaza into southern Israel on several occasions between September and December 2014 that resulted in limited property damage.

Visitors to and 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 locations 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 take note of guidance on proper procedures in the event of rocket attacks or other crisis events by visiting the website of the government of Israel's 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 attacks that took place in August 2013, January 20 and October 22, 2014. Rockets and mortars were launched from Sinai in the direction of Eilat and Israel’s Negev region in January, July, and August 2014.

Visitors should observe appropriate personal security practices to reduce their vulnerability to crime, particularly late at night or in isolated 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.

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 protests, civil unrest, acts of terrorism, and retaliatory attacks against groups and individuals. There have been frequent clashes between protesters and Israeli authorities, particularly in East Jerusalem neighborhoods. Travelers should be aware that protest activities and violence have occurred across Jerusalem, including in West Jerusalem, within the Old City, and in East Jerusalem neighborhoods such as Sheikh Jarrah, Shufat, Beit Hanina, Mt. of Olives, As Suwaneh, Abu Deis, Silwan, Shuafat Refugee Camp, Issawiyeh, and Tsur Baher. The intensity and number of these violent events, which have caused the deaths of bystanders, remained at high levels during October and November. Such events often increase following Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif access restrictions, in retaliation for random attacks, or during Israel National Police (INP) operations in predominantly Palestinian neighborhoods. The INP often deploys a heavy presence in many of the neighborhoods that have seen clashes and may restrict vehicular traffic to some of these neighborhoods without notice. U.S. citizens are advised not to enter any neighborhoods while restricted by the INP and to avoid any locations with active clashes.

To date, the clashes and violence have not been anti-American in nature. However, politically motivated violence in Jerusalem claimed the lives of U.S. citizens in October and November 2014, including a terror attack inside a synagogue. Other U.S. citizens have also been injured in such attacks. Travelers are reminded to exercise caution at Muslim religious sites on Fridays and on holy days, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan. 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. 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 public parks in Jerusalem after dark, due to numerous reports of criminal activity associated with these parks. 

Northern Israel and Golan Heights

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. Because of concerns about security on Israel’s northern borders, U.S. government personnel must obtain advance approval if they wish to travel within 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) of the Lebanon border, or travel on or east of Route 98 in the Golan Heights.

The West Bank

The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution when traveling to the West Bank. In October 2014, a U.S. citizen teenager was killed in an encounter with Israeli security forces in Silwad, and in June 2014, three Israeli teenagers, including a dual U.S. citizen, were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas-affiliated individuals while hitchhiking near Hebron. Demonstrations and violent incidents can occur without warning, and vehicles are sometimes damaged by rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire on West Bank roads. U.S citizens have been killed in such attacks in the past. 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, as well as 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 U.S. government officials 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 after completing certain security procedures. The Rachel’s Tomb checkpoint between Jerusalem and Bethlehem has 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. U.S. government U.S. citizen employees are not allowed to travel to Gaza, in either personal or professional capacities. U.S. government travel within seven kilometers of the Gaza demarcation requires special security arrangements. 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. Since late October 2014, Egyptian authorities have closed the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt for extended periods with no indication regarding when it will reopen for normal traffic. When operating, the Rafah crossing normally allows for some passenger travel, however, 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 while attempting to exit Gaza. Furthermore, the schedule and requirements for exiting through the Rafah crossing are unpredictable and can involve significant expense. The ability of U.S. government personnel to offer timely assistance to U.S. citizens, including assistance departing Gaza, is extremely limited. The Consulate General and Embassy are often unable to assist U.S. citizens to exit Gaza via the Erez crossing to Israel. U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Gaza cannot normally 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. 

U.S. citizens seeking to depart Israel, the West Bank, or Gaza are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. 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.

Travelers should check the status of border crossings before embarking on trips.

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 CautionCountry 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. Sierra Leone Travel Warning

Posted on 5 February 2015 | 7:16 pm
After review of health conditions and limited availability of medical evacuation options, the U.S. Department of State, on August 14, 2014, ordered the departure of eligible family members residing with Embassy staff in Freetown, and issued a Travel Warning advising U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to Sierra Leone.

The Embassy recommended this action out of an abundance of caution following the determination that there was a lack of options for urgent health care services at major medical facilities due to the Ebola outbreak. On February 4, 2015, the U.S. Department of State modified the status for accompanying family members to allow only adult eligible family members to accompany the principal employee to Embassy Freetown. 

Greater response efficiency and additional isolation facilities, among other improvements, have broken the exponential growth of the Ebola epidemic. While the national trend is decreasing, there continues to be moderate to high transmission in some districts as well as local outbreaks of concern. These include Western Area Urban and Rural (Freetown and its environs), Moyamba, Port Loko, Kambia, and Kono. The positive progress is promising, but the epidemic is not yet fully under control. 

If you arrive in Sierra Leone and subsequently need routine or emergency medical care, you should expect limited, if any, options. Though improved, hospitals still have suspect infection control despite focused training, health care worker infections continue in non-Ebola treatment centers, and private clinics and laboratories remain closed. 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 do not 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.

21. Cameroon Travel Warning

Posted on 4 February 2015 | 3:05 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high risk of traveling to Cameroon and cautions U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Far North region of Cameroon.

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

The Boko Haram terrorist group is active in the Far North, and has actively targeted foreign expatriates resident in Cameroon, tourists and government leaders. In early January 2015, a video was released via YouTube, in which the alleged leader of Boko Haram threatens Cameroonian President Paul Biya and announces intensified action by Boko Haram against targets within Cameroon. On January 12, 2015, Boko Haram fighters attacked a Cameroonian military camp in Kolofata, near the Nigerian border, resulting in the unconfirmed deaths of 143 militants and one Cameroonian soldier. On January 1, 2015, 11 civilian passengers traveling between Mora and Waza by bus were executed by suspected Boko Haram militants. On December 27, 2014, Boko Haram attacked a military base at Achigachia, killing seven Cameroonian soldiers. Boko Haram is also suspected of planting an improvised explosive device that killed three soldiers near Limani on December 14, 2014. On July 25, 2014 over 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 compound, while Kolofata’s mayor and religious leader and several others were kidnapped from the mayor’s compound. Several civilians were killed in the joint 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 traveling 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 May 2014.

Boko Haram’s leaders have stated and demonstrated through their actions over the past year that they are actively seeking to kidnap “Westerners,” including U.S. citizens traveling 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 urges U.S. citizens to exercise extreme caution when traveling in the North and Adamaoua regions of Cameroon, especially in areas that are within 100 kilometers of Cameroon’s border with Adamawa 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. official personnel to the North and Far North regions of Cameroon, as well as any travel north of Ngaoundere in the Adamaoua region. Official personnel are only permitted to travel to these areas if the travel is deemed mission-essential, and 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 (CAR). 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 resumed limited operations on September 15, 2014, but remains unable to 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. 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) to stay up to date with the latest security updates, and so that the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate is able to contact U.S. citizens in an emergency. U.S. citizens without internet access can enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

We urge U.S. citizens traveling abroad to regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs website to find current Travel Warnings, (including the Travel Warning for Cameroon), Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. U.S. citizens traveling to Cameroon are urged to 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 22220-1500 ext. 4341/4023. The number for after-hours emergencies is +237 22220-1500 ext. 4531. The fax number is +237 22220-1572. The Embassy's e-mail address is 

22. Nigeria Travel Warning

Posted on 2 February 2015 | 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 the security situation in northeast Nigeria remains fluid and unpredictable.

The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens in Nigeria to consider their own personal security and to keep personal safety in the forefront of their travel planning.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Nigeria dated August 11, 2014.

The ability of the Mission to provide assistance to U.S. citizens in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states 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, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara. The Department also warns against travel in the Gulf of Guinea because of the threat of piracy. 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 extremists 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, bars, 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 designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the Department of State, has claimed responsibility for many attacks, mainly in northern Nigeria. Its members have killed or wounded thousands of people during the past four years. Boko Haram has targeted churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, and entertainment venues in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Plateau, Taraba, the Federal Capital Territory, and Yobe states. Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have been displaced as a result of violence in the north.

2014 saw an increase in attacks by Boko Haram and clashes with Nigerian government security forces in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram targeted men, women, and children for kidnapping. In April 2014, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of over 200 school-aged girls 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 2014, extremists also targeted several public markets and transportation hubs in northern Nigeria, including the Federal Capital Territory of Abuja. In Abuja, two explosions occurred in separate attacks at a parking lot in April and May and a shopping center was bombed in June. Several other markets, schools, churches, mosques and bars were targeted throughout the north including an attack with heavy casualties at the central mosque in Kano in November. Boko Haram also claimed responsibility for a suicide attack in Lagos that used a Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device that killed four at the Apapa port facility on June 25.

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 they 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.

Cell phone service has, at times, been disrupted in Nigeria, particularly in areas where a State of Emergency has been declared, and when extremists have attacked cellular telephone towers. U.S. citizens should attempt to arrange for multiple means of communication in case of need during emergencies.

Kidnappings remain a security concern throughout the country. Kidnappings are orchestrated by Islamic extremists, predominately in the North, and for ransom by criminal elements in the South. Several high-profile kidnappings occurred in 2014 involving U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals. In September 2014, two U.S citizens were kidnapped in Port Harcourt in two separate incidents. Kidnappings of foreign nationals and attacks against Nigerian police forces in Lagos state and the Niger Delta region continued 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, residential compounds, airports, and public roadways. Local authorities and international corporations operating in Nigeria assert that the number of kidnapping incidents throughout Nigeria remains under-reported. Attacks by pirates off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea have increased substantially in recent years. Armed gangs have boarded both commercial and private vessels to rob travelers. The Nigerian Navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea.

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.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Nigeria enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you do not have internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

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

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You may also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within 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 the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips. 

The U.S. Embassy in Abuja, located at Plot 1075 Diplomatic Drive, Central District Area, 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, located at 2 Walter Carrington Crescent, Victoria Island, is open Monday-Thursday from 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The U.S. Embassy in Abuja can be reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies, at +234(9) 461-4000, or by email at AbujaACS@state.gov. The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos can be reached by telephone, including after-hours emergencies, at +234(1) 460-3600 or +234 (1) 460-3400, or by email at LagosACS@state.gov. For more information, please visit the U.S. Mission in Nigeria website.

23. Liberia Travel Warning

Posted on 21 January 2015 | 8:42 pm
On August 7, 2014 the U.S. Department of State issued a Travel Warning advising 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. The Embassy recommended this action out of an abundance of caution following the determination that there was a lack of options for routine health care services at major medical facilities due to the Ebola outbreak. 

There have been major accomplishments in the fight against Ebola, and for the first time in several months we are seeing lower rates of new infections, reduced demand at Ebola treatment units, and other positive signs. Embassy Monrovia now has access to pre-Ebola level health care and most of the clinics and hospitals that were available and adequate for at least outpatient referral prior to the Ebola epidemic have re-opened, offering basic services, with improved infection control practices. The national response plan for infection control has continued to improve and move toward wider implementation, and is believed to be at pre-Ebola levels or better. Due to these changes, as of January 21, 2015 the U.S. Department of State has lifted the ordered departurePlease be advised that while most hospitals and clinics have reopened, only basic services are provided. If you arrive in Liberia and subsequently need routine or emergency medical care, you should expect limited 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. Policy holders 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 be more difficult to obtain. Please review the Travel Alert issued December 2, 2014.

The Department of State urges those U.S. citizens who decide to travel to or remain in Liberia 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.

24. Libya Travel Warning

Posted on 20 January 2015 | 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 July 26, 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 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. Non-governmental organizations (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.

The internationally recognized House of Representatives has relocated to Tobruk, and its government is based in Bayda. Government authorities lack control over much of the country. Tripoli and its environs are controlled by a coalition of militias known as Operation Dawn, and affiliated authorities calling themselves the “National Salvation Government.”

Clashes are ongoing throughout the country and attacks by armed groups can occur in many different areas. Hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. Checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli, as well as inside the capital at times. Most international airports are closed, and flights out of operational airports are sporadic and may be cancelled without warning. The United States is very concerned about the targeting of commercial transportation in Libya. The U.S. government prohibits U.S. commercial aviation operations within Libyan airspace.

Along with airports, seaports and roads can close with little or no warning. The Libyan National Army announced on January 7, 2015 that all vessels in Libyan waters require army approval for transit, following the January 4, 2015 bombing of a Greek-operated oil tanker near Derna, Libya, that killed two crewmen. The escalation of violence in Libya against civilian commercial interests raises serious concerns about the safety of maritime vessels and their crew. U.S. mariners are advised to exercise extreme caution while transiting in or near Libyan territorial waters. Vessels are advised to proceed with extreme caution when approaching all Libyan oil terminals and ports and are encouraged to adhere to the recommendations in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Port Security Advisory 1-14 issued April 1, 2014. Mariners planning travel to Libya should check the U.S. Coast Guard Homeport Website for any Port Security Advisory Updates (HTTPS://HOMEPORT.USCG.MIL),and the NGA Broadcast Warnings Website select “Broadcast Warnings”) for any special warnings or Maritime Administration Advisories before arrival.

U.S. citizens still in Libya should make plans to depart as soon as possible. U.S. citizens seeking to depart Libya are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Travelers should reconfirm flight schedules with their airline prior to going to the airport. Flight cancellations occur frequently. There are no plans for charter flights or other U.S. government-sponsored evacuations. Land port closures occur frequently.

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.

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. 

25. Iran Travel Warning

Posted on 16 January 2015 | 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 the Travel Warning for Iran issued May 22, 2014.

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, particularly those 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 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, 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).

26. Republic of South Sudan Travel Warning

Posted on 7 January 2015 | 2:02 pm
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Republic of South Sudan.

The U.S. Embassy in Juba continues to operate at reduced staffing levels due to continued armed conflict outside Juba. The U.S. Embassy is consequently able to offer only very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens due to the poor security situation and resulting instability. U.S. citizens traveling to South Sudan despite this warning should develop contingency plans prior to arrival to ensure their safety and security. The U.S. Embassy is rarely informed of the arrest of U.S. citizens in a timely manner, and consular assistance to detainees both in Juba and outside the capital is extremely limited. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on June 12, 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 routine American Citizens Services 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 opposition forces led by the former vice president Riek Machar. This conflict began in Juba in December 2013. Although the conflict is primarily concentrated in Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile states, other areas of the country have experienced periodic fighting.  Instability also persists across the country due to retaliatory attacks, intercommunal violence, and cattle raiding.

Health care in South Sudan is extremely limited and poor. There are likely to be disruptions or long delays in services provided by the government of South Sudan, including in health care and sanitation.  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, particularly outside of Juba. In addition to instability related to the current armed conflict, the risk of violent crime is high in Juba.  The U.S. Embassy in Juba has imposed a curfew from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. and 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 and coordinating with the host government for 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. U.S. citizens should consider those restrictions and take measures to mitigate exposure to violent crime and other threats. U.S. citizens currently working on humanitarian relief or development efforts in Juba, or elsewhere in South Sudan, should closely follow the security policies and procedures of the sponsoring organization.

Carjackings and banditry are common in South Sudan. If travel outside of Juba is necessary, it should be undertaken preferably with a minimum of two vehicles with appropriate recovery and medical equipment in case of mechanical failure or other emergency. Additionally, there are widespread fuel shortages across South Sudan, and access to gasoline and or diesel cannot be guaranteed.

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.

27. Ukraine Travel Warning

Posted on 5 January 2015 | 4:29 pm
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to eastern Ukraine.

Despite the signing of a ceasefire agreement in September 2014, violent clashes between Russia-backed separatists and Ukrainian forces continue in parts of the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, resulting in thousands of injuries and deaths. 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 29 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. The ceasefire agreement signed by Ukrainian, Russian and separatist leaders established a de facto dividing line between Ukrainian government-controlled and separatist-held areas of Ukraine, with numerous checkpoints controlled by government and separatist forces. Individuals, including U.S. citizens, have been threatened, detained or kidnapped for hours or days after being stopped at separatist checkpoints. The Government of Ukraine has stated that foreigners, including U.S. citizens who enter Ukraine through separatist-controlled checkpoints, will not be allowed to pass through government checkpoints.

The Government of Ukraine has been unable to provide some government services. Shortages of water, power and food supplies have also been reported in separatist-controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts, and widespread disorder and looting has been confirmed in these areas.

Russia-backed separatist groups have taken on an increasingly strident anti-American tone. U.S. citizens who choose to enter or remain in conflict areas should maintain a low profile and avoid large crowds and gatherings.

U.S. citizens should exercise caution in the regions of Odesa, Kharkiv, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. In addition, due to a recent increase in low level terrorism incidents, travelers in the cities of Odesa and Kharkiv should exercise extreme vigilance in public places after dark.

The Department of State also warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to the Crimean Peninsula, which is unlawfully occupied by Russia. The Russian Federation is likely to take further actions in Crimea in 2015 consistent with their attempted unlawful annexation and 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 their authority on the peninsula. The Government of Ukraine prevents foreigners, including U.S. citizens, who enter Crimea directly from any country other than Ukraine, from entering mainland Ukraine.

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 should protests or demonstrations escalate. Problems with energy supplies have led to blackouts throughout Ukraine, which will likely continue through the winter.

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 provide consular services, including responding to emergencies, to U.S. citizens in eastern Ukraine and Ukraine's Crimean region is extremely limited.

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 CautionTravel 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).

28. 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.

29. 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.

30. 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

31. 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.

32. 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.  

33. 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.

34. 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.

35. 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.

36. 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.  

37. 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.

38. 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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