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Djibouti Travel Warning

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.  

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

El Salvador Travel Warning

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.

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Philippines Travel Warning

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the Philippines, in particular to the Sulu Archipelago, the island of Mindanao, and the southern Sulu Sea area.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

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

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Colombia Travel Warning

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.

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Syria Travel Warning

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Syria and strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remaining in Syria depart immediately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For information on "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis," please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Emergencies and Crisis link at www.travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

For additional information, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Syria. Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. 

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Central African Republic Travel Warning

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR).

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

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

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

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

If you seek information about U.S. citizen services in CAR from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services in Washington, please e-mail: CARemergencyUSC@state.gov.

If you are going to live in or travel to the Central African Republic despite this Travel Warning, please take the time to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  By enrolling in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.  Enrolling in STEP will also make it easier for us to contact you in the event of an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address in order to receive emergency messages.

For information on general crime and security issues, you should also consult the Department of State Country Specific Information for the Central African Republic; as well as the Worldwide Caution; located on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.  Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or from other countries on a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Burkina Faso Travel Alert

The State Department alerts U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to or residing in Burkina Faso and recommends U.S. citizens defer all non-essential travel.

This Travel Alert will expire on January 29, 2015.  

On October 31, Burkina Faso’s President Compaore resigned.  The status of a transitional government remains unclear.  There are incidents of looting throughout the capital city of Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, and other parts of the country. 

The situation is dynamic and closures or openings of border and airports are likely to change and remain unpredictable for some time.  Currently, land and air borders have been closed.  U.S. citizens should stay informed and abreast of local media reports for land border and airport updates.

U.S. citizens in Burkina Faso may find that at times sheltering in place may be the only and best security option. 

U.S. citizens residing in Burkina Faso should remain vigilant and utilize appropriate personal security practices.  Avoid large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations; maintain situational awareness and exercise good judgment; be alert and remain aware of your surroundings; and stay abreast of the situation through media outlets.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens who have travelled to, or are residents of, Burkina Faso 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 Burkina Faso.  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 Ouagadougou is located in Ouaga 2000, Sector 15, on Avenue Sembene Ousmane, southeast of the Monument aux Héros Nationaux.  If you are a U.S. citizen in an emergency situation after normal Embassy operating hours, please contact the Embassy’s main number at (+226) 50-49-53-00, dial “1,” and ask to be connected to the duty officer.

 

Posted in Travel Alerts (U.S. Dept of State)

Burundi Travel Warning

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Burundi and recommends U.S. citizens avoid non-essential travel.

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

The terrorist organization al-Shabaab, based in Somalia, has threatened to conduct terror attacks in Burundi.  It may also target U.S. interests in Burundi.  Low-level political violence persists throughout Burundi– a carryover of the Burundian civil war.

Armed groups operate in Burundi.  Weapons are easy to obtain and some ex-combatants have turned to crime or political violence.  Crime, often committed by groups of armed bandits or street children, poses the highest risk for foreign visitors to both Bujumbura and Burundi in general.  Exchanges of gunfire and grenade attacks are not uncommon but are usually not directed at foreigners.  If you encounter such a situation, stay indoors, in a ground floor interior room and away from doors and windows.  Common crimes include muggings, burglaries, and robberies.  Keep vehicle doors locked and windows up, and be careful when stopped in heavy traffic, due to the threat of robbery and theft.  U.S. government personnel are prohibited from walking on the streets after dark and from using local public transportation at any time.  Local authorities in any part of Burundi are often unable to provide timely assistance during an emergency.

Demonstrations, gatherings and even sporting events on occasion that are intended to be peaceful can turn violent.  U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Burundi are reminded to maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind.  U.S. citizens should routinely monitor local media sources and the Internet for reports of demonstrations and unrest.

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

Corruption is endemic in Burundi and contributes to an environment where the rule of law is not respected.  Government officials may ask for bribes for providing routine services.  Travelers are frequently stopped, questioned, and asked for bribes by security forces at numerous official and unofficial roadblocks throughout the country.  Likewise, criminals who have paid off local officials may operate without fear of prosecution.

U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Burundi despite this Travel Warning are urged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura for information on the latest Embassy security guidance, and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information.  Please be sure to keep all of your information in STEP current.  It is important when enrolling or updating information to include multiple phone numbers and email addresses to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency.

U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura at Avenue des Etats-Unis.  The hours for non-emergency American Citizens Services are 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.  The Embassy Consular section can be reached by telephone, including for after-hours emergencies, at +257-22-20-7000, or by fax at +257-22-22-2926.  Security information for U.S. citizens in Burundi is posted on Embassy Bujumbura's website.

For further information, consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Burundi and the current Worldwide Caution, located on the Department of State's website.  Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, a regular toll line at-1-202-501-4444 for callers from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts.  Follow us on Twitter and the bureau of consular affairs page on Facebook as well.

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Somalia Travel Warning

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.  

Posted in Travel Warnings (U.S. Dept of State)

Potential Implications for Travel Because of Ebola in Parts of West Africa

The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to screening procedures, travel restrictions, and reduced aviation transportation options in response to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.

This Travel Alert will expire on April 22, 2015.

As of October 22, the Department of Homeland Security requires that all persons traveling to the United States from the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea enter the U.S. through either New York's Kennedy, Newark’s Liberty, Washington's Dulles, Chicago's O'Hare, or Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airports and undergo EVD screening.

Passengers traveling from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea who are not scheduled to pass through one of these airports must rebook their flights to make entry through one of these designated airports.

Due to an outbreak of EVD in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Level 3 Travel Warnings for those three countries advising against non-essential travel and provided guidance to reduce the potential for spread of EVD. The CDC Level 2 Travel Alert for Nigeria was removed because Nigeria has been declared Ebola free. The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website prominently features an Ebola Fact Sheet and links to the CDC Health Travel Warnings, Travel Alert, and general guidance about Ebola.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have also published and provided interim guidance to public health authorities, airlines, and other partners in West Africa for evaluating risk of exposure of persons coming from countries affected by EVD. Measures can include screening, medical evaluation, movement restrictions up to 21 days, and infection control precautions. Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period. Please note neither the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities require it. For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.

The cost for a medical evacuation is very expensive. We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance that includes medical evacuation for EVD. Policy holders should confirm the availability of medical care and evacuation services at their travel destinations prior to travel. 

Some local, regional, and international air carriers have curtailed or temporarily suspended service to or from Ebola-affected countries. U.S. citizens planning travel to or from these countries, in accordance with the CDC Health Travel Warnings and Health Travel Alert, should contact their airline to verify seat availability, confirm departure schedules, inquire about screening procedures, and be aware of other airline options. 

The Department is aware that some countries have put in place procedures relating to the travel of individuals from the affected countries, including complete travel bans. Changes to existing procedures may occur with little or no notice. Please consult your airline or the embassy of your destination country for additional information. 

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling or residing abroad enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or 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 website where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for your destination countries. For additional information, refer to the "Traveler's Checklist" on the State Department's website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 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 on Facebook.

Posted in Travel Alerts (U.S. Dept of State)