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Venezuela Travel Warning

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.

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

Venezuela Travel Warning

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.

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

Haiti Travel Warning

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.

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 Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Mali.

This Travel Alert will expire on June 2, 2015.

Due to an outbreak of EVD in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Mali, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Level 3 Travel Warnings for Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone advising against non-essential travel and a Level 2 Travel Alert for Mali, to practice enhanced precautions for avoidance of contact with ill individuals. 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.  Travelers should consult the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website for the most up-to-date information regarding enhanced screening procedures at five U.S. airports (Newark, New York JFK, O’Hare, Atlanta, and Dulles) for all people entering the United States from or who have traveled through the Ebola-affected countries.  Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period.  Moreover, CDC’s guidelines outline the minimum recommended procedures, and state and local governments have the power to implement more stringent procedures. 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 overseas, or in the United States, require it.  For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.

Medical evacuation from Ebola-affected countries is very difficult, even for non-Ebola illnesses.  The cost for a medical evacuation flight can exceed $200,000.  We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance and ensure this insurance 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 or who have traveled through 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)

Lebanon Travel Warning

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

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

Lebanon Travel Warning

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

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

Democratic Republic of the Congo Travel Warning

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.

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

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)