Thursday, October 09, 2003

Travel Warning Public Service Announcement

Current travel warnings and date issued by the U.S. State Department:

1. Angola - 10/2/2003

The November 21, 2002, signing of a peace agreement marked the definitive end of 27 years of civil conflict. However, fighting in most of the country damaged or destroyed much of the physical infrastructure including roads, bridges, hospitals and schools. Travel by road is difficult and can be dangerous due to the extensive presence of land mines in many areas. Services outside of major urban areas are virtually non-existent, and secondary roads may be impassable during the rainy season. Domestic air service is limited. Unreliable communications and the difficulty of travel within the country restrict the Embassy’s ability to provide consular assistance outside of the capital, Luanda.

2. Iraq - 10/2/2003

There have been a number of explosions in Baghdad, including at hotels, the UN headquarters, and the Jordanian Embassy. In addition, there have been planned and random killings, as well as extortions and kidnappings. The Department of State continues to strongly warn U.S. citizens against travel to Iraq. Although the restrictions on the use of U.S. passport travel to, in or through Iraq has been lifted, travel to Iraq remains extremely dangerous. Remnants of the former Baath regime, transnational terrorists, and criminal elements remain active. Coalition led military operations continue, and there are daily attacks against Coalition forces throughout the country. Hotels, restaurants and locations with expatriate staff are being targeted. The security environment in all of Iraq remains volatile and unpredictable.

3. Liberia - 9/30/2003

Despite the 18 August 2003 Comprehensive Peace Accord, the deployment of ECOMIL forces, and the authorization of a UN peacekeeping operation (via UNSCR 1509), low-intensity fighting between rebel and government forces, particularly involving irregulars (militias) of the parties to the conflict, continues to flare up in various parts of the countryside. Due to the fighting, principal roads to Sierra Leone and Guinea, and from Monrovia to the western part of the country, are often closed. Travel over these and many other roads has become prohibitively dangerous. There is also a high threat of violent crime in Monrovia and elsewhere.

4. Kenya - 9/25/2003

The U.S. Government continues to receive indications of terrorist threats in the region aimed at American and western interests, including civil aviation. The government of Kenya might not be able to prevent such attacks.

The threat to aircraft by terrorists using shoulder-fired missiles continues in Kenya, including Nairobi. Terrorism poses a continuing threat in East Africa. Terrorist actions may include suicide operations, bombings, or kidnappings. U.S. citizens should be aware of the risk of indiscriminate attacks on civilian targets in public places including tourist sites and locations where westerners are known to congregate, as well as commercial operations associated with U.S. or western interests.

5. Algeria - 9/5/2003

In February 2003, 32 Western Europeans were taken hostage by terrorists in the Sahara desert areas of southeastern Algeria, between the cities of Ouargla and Tamanrasset. Fourteen of the hostages were transported by the terrorists into northern Mali. As of August 20, 2003, one had died in captivity, and all others have been released.

6. Indonesia - 8/28/2003

The Marriott Hotel in Jakarta on August 5, 2003 and a tourist area of Bali on October 12, 2002, were the scenes of major terrorist attacks. U.S. citizens were injured or killed in both of these incidents. The Jemaah Islamiyah organization, designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization, is an extremist group known to have cells operating in Southeast Asia, including Indonesia, and is known to have connections with Al-Qaeda. The terrorist attacks in Jakarta and Bali, which took place in areas with large numbers of foreign tourists, clearly indicate that a security threat extends to private American citizens.

On May 19, 2003, the Indonesian government declared martial law in Aceh and launched significant military operations in response to the ongoing separatist conflict between the Indonesian military and the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

There is a risk of kidnappings by the Abu Sayyaf terrorist group in the border areas of Indonesia near Malaysia and the Philippines. The Abu Sayyaf has previously carried out kidnappings in Malaysia and the Philippines, and the group has the operational capability to do so in Indonesia, also.

Sectarian, ethnic, communal (inter-intra group) and separatist strife, and violence are ongoing threats to personal safety and security in various areas, including Maluku, North Maluku, Sulawesi, Papua and West Timor. Papua’s separatist conflict can become violent. In August 2002, two U.S. citizens were killed near Timika in circumstances that have raised suspicions of official involvement.

7. Yemen - 8/20/2003

The security threat to all U.S. citizens in Yemen remains high due to continuing efforts by Al-Qa’ida to re-constitute an effective operating base.

8. Cote d’Ivoire - 8/13/2003

Rebel forces control most of northern Cote D'Ivoire, including the cities of Bouake and Korhogo, while the capital, Yamoussoukro, and the commercial capital, Abidjan, remain under the control of loyalist forces. Although loyalist and rebel forces continue to uphold their cease-fire agreement and proclaimed "the end of the war" in a joint statement on July 4, 2003, the situation remains volatile.

9. Saudi Arabia - 8/13/2003

The U.S. Government has received indications of terrorist threats aimed at American and Western interests, including the targeting of transportation and civil aviation. There is credible information that terrorists have targeted Western aviation interests in Saudi Arabia. American citizens in Saudi Arabia should remain vigilant, particularly in public places such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, hotels, schools, airports, outdoor recreation events, resorts and beaches, etc.

10. Burundi - 8/12/2003

Burundi has been plagued by civil war since 1993. As the result of a peace process undertaken by many of Burundi's political parties, a three-year transition government was installed on November 1, 2001. Two rebel factions continue combat operations, one concentrated around Bujumbura and the other in several areas of the country. Fighting between rebel forces and government troops can be intense, and often involves non-government, non-combatant targets.

Rebels have launched rocket and mortar attacks on Bujumbura and other major cities. Gunfire in and around the capital has resulted in numerous injuries and deaths. Vehicles on the nation's major roads have been attacked regularly.

11. Afghanistan - 7/28/2003

The ability of Afghan authorities to maintain order and ensure security is limited. Remnants of the former Taliban regime and the terrorist Al-Qaida network, and other groups hostile to the government, as well as criminal elements, remain active. U.S.-led military operations continue. Travel in all areas of Afghanistan, including the capital, Kabul, is unsafe due to military operations, landmines, banditry, armed rivalry among political and tribal groups, and the possibility of terrorist attacks, including attacks using vehicular or other bombs. The security environment remains volatile and unpredictable. There have been a number of attacks on foreign interests and nationals. Over the past year there have been several unsuccessful rocket attacks in Kabul and elsewhere in Afghanistan. On June 7, 2003, a suicide car bomber attacked International Security Assistance Forces (ISAF), killing four German soldiers. On March 30, a rocket landed at the ISAF compound, which is located across the street from the U.S. Embassy. On March 29, two U.S. soldiers were ambushed and killed in the southern Helmand Province. On March 27, an international aid worker was pulled from his vehicle and killed in northern Kandahar (near the border with Oruzgan Province), resulting in the curtailment of some assistance activities in the region. On December 19, 2002, a grenade thrown at an ISAF military installation killed one Afghan and injured two international aid workers. On December 17, 2002, a grenade attack injured two U.S. soldiers in central Kabul. On September 5, 2002, a car bomb was detonated in downtown Kabul, killing more than 30 Afghans.

12. Nigeria - 6/26/2003

Violent crime, committed by ordinary criminals, as well as by persons in police and military uniforms, can occur throughout the country. Kidnapping for ransom of persons associated with the petroleum sector, including U.S. citizens, remains common in the Niger Delta area.

Religious tension between some Muslim and Christian communities results in occasional acts of isolated communal violence that erupt quickly and without warning. Rival ethnic groups have clashed violently, most recently in the Niger Delta region.

13. Colombia - 6/16/2003

Terrorist and criminal violence by narcotraffickers, guerrillas, illegal self- defense (paramilitary) groups and other criminal elements continues to affect all parts of the country, urban and rural. Citizens of the United States and other countries continue to be the victims of threats, kidnappings, domestic airline hijackings and murders. Threats targeting official and long-term resident Americans are expected to continue and possibly increase in response to U.S. support for Colombian drug eradication programs. Colombian groups have been known to operate in the border areas of neighboring countries, creating similar dangers for travelers in those areas. Bombings have occurred throughout Colombia, including a steady recent rise in attacks on civilian targets in urban areas. This trend shows no sign of abating in the near future, and some foreign interests have been among the targets. There have been significantly fewer security incidents in the tourist area in the colonial, walled part of Cartagena and none, to our knowledge, on San Andres Island (off the coast of Nicaragua).

About 3,000 kidnapping incidents were reported throughout Colombia in 2002. There is a greater risk of being kidnapped in Colombia than in any other country in the world. In the past three years, 26 Americans were reported kidnapped in various parts of the country. American kidnap or murder victims have included journalists, missionaries, scientists, human rights workers, U.S. government employees and businesspeople, as well as persons on tourism or family visits, and even small children.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN) are active throughout the country.

14. Iran - 5/12/2003

Some elements of the Iranian government and population remain hostile to the U.S. Some areas of the country, including the Baluchistan border area near Pakistan and Afghanistan generally, are not safe for tourism. There were several bombings in January 2003 in the vicinity of Zahedan, the capital of the Sistan va Baluchistan province. The Kurdish northwest of the country and areas near the Iraqi border are not considered safe either.

Large-scale demonstrations have taken place in various regions throughout Iran over the past several years as a result of a sometimes-volatile political climate. U.S. citizens who go to Iran should exercise caution.

15. Lebanon - 5/6/2003

Tensions in the Middle East have prompted continuing public expressions of anti-U.S. rhetoric and public sentiment. Recent events in Lebanon, such as bombings directed at U.S. franchises and the November 2002 murder of a U.S. citizen in Sidon, underscore the need for caution and sound personal security precautions. There have also been demonstrations and spontaneous protests, sometimes violent, in Lebanon's Palestinian refugee camps, most major cities, and near the U.S. Embassy and United Nations headquarters. Lebanon’s southern border has been quieter in recent months, although tensions remain high. Hizballah and Palestinian militant activity there could increase without warning.

In the past, Americans were the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon. The perpetrators of many of these attacks are still present in Lebanon and retain the ability to act.

16. Israel, the West Bank and Gaza - 4/17/2003

Ongoing violence has caused numerous civilian deaths and injuries, including to some American tourists, students and residents. The potential for further terrorist acts remains high. Although the Department of State has authorized the return of family members and non-emergency personnel to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem following an overall assessment of the security situation in the region, the situation in Israel, Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank remains extremely volatile with continuing terrorist attacks, confrontations and clashes.

17. Pakistan - 4/17/2003

There is evidence of a potential threat to U.S. citizens and other westerners in Pakistan from terrorists posing as street vendors or beggars on busy streets. Americans are urged to avoid congested areas where these individuals could approach their vehicles. Although the high level of tension that existed last spring between India and Pakistan has subsided, the risk of renewed tension cannot be ruled out.

18. Central African Republic - 4/7/2003

On March 15, rebel forces that had been operating in the countryside outside Bangui took over the capital and seized power from the government of the CAR

19. Democratic Republic of the Congo - 4/7/2003

The Congolese government controls the western, central and southern regions of the country. Rebels control the north and east. Though the government and various rebel factions signed a power-sharing agreement, it has yet to be implemented and the country remains divided. A United Nations observer force has been deployed to a number of locations throughout the country, and in many of these areas, security has improved. Nevertheless, unofficial armed groups and active duty troops operating in some parts of the country are responsible for pillaging, vehicle thefts, carjackings, extra-judicial killings, kidnappings, ethnic tensions, and continued military/paramilitary operations.

20. Sudan - 3/26/2003

In addition to the ongoing civil war that affects both southern and eastern Sudan, there is also fighting in Darfur province around the Jebel Mara area.

Sporadic fighting has continued between Sudanese government forces, the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA), and various militias in the southern part of the country. Threats have been made against foreigners working in the oil industry in Upper Nile province. The areas around Kassala and southern Blue Nile province remain affected by the civil war. The ceasefire in the Nuba Mountains has generally been respected. At least one American relief worker has been beaten and falsely accused of espionage. Other Americans have been held hostage.

21. Somalia - 3/4/2003

Inter-clan and inter-factional fighting can flare up with little warning, and kidnapping, murder, and other threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners can occur unpredictably in many regions. While the self-declared "Republic of Somaliland" in northern Somalia has been relatively peaceful, the Sanaag and Sool Regions in eastern Somaliland, bordering on Puntland (northeastern Somalia), are subject to insecurity due to potential inter-clan fighting. In addition, the Mogadishu area, the Puntland region in northern Somalia, and the districts of Gedo and Bay (especially the vicinity of Baidoa) in the south have experienced serious fighting. Territorial control in the Mogadishu area is divided among numerous groups; lines of control are unclear and frequently shift, making movement within this area extremely hazardous.

22. Zimbabwe - 1/27/2003

Zimbabwe is in the midst of political, economic, and humanitarian crises with serious implications for the security situation in the country. All U.S. citizens in Zimbabwe are urged to take those measures they deem appropriate to ensure their well being, including consideration of departure from the country.

The Zimbabwean economy is in precipitous decline, with extremely high rates on unemployment and inflation. The economic crisis has led to an increase in crime. Zimbabwe is experiencing nationwide fuel shortages that have hindered in-country travel.

Approximately half the population of Zimbabwe faces an urgent food crisis and possible famine. The humanitarian crisis is expected to worsen in coming months and may lead to unrest and possible large-scale migration of Zimbabweans to urban or border areas, with further disruption and an increase in crime and instability.

Commercial farms should be avoided at all times, especially those occupied by settlers or so-called "war veterans," who are typically young government supporters acting with impunity outside the law. In November 2002, U.S. Embassy staff members were detained and one was beaten by war veterans on a farm near Harare.

23. Tajikistan - 12/20/2002

The security situation has improved since the conclusion of the civil war in 1997. However, incidents of hostage-taking and assassination occurred in recent years and threats against Americans, including the threat of kidnapping, continue. The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), a foreign terrorist organization, fought alongside Al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan against U.S. military forces. Following U.S. military actions, the IMU's operational capabilities were diminished, but the threat of terrorist actions by the IMU and its sympathizers still exists. Americans should particularly avoid the vicinity of Kofarhihon and areas along the borders with Afghanistan and the Kyrgyz Republic, the Karategin Valley, and Tavildara District.

24. Libya - 10/7/2002

There has been evidence of hostility to the United States in some segments of the population and some elements of the Libyan Government. United Nations sanctions against Libya have been suspended following the surrender of the two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing; U.S. sanctions remain in place.

25. Bosnia - 6/4/2002

The situation has largely stabilized since the Dayton Peace Accords halted the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995; nevertheless, there are still risks from occasional localized political violence, land mines, and unexploded ordnance. There were outbreaks of mob violence in reaction to a financial crisis in Bosnia in 2001. Violence was directed against the international community, including American citizens. The communities where the violence took place include Mostar, Medjugorje, Grude, Posusje, Livno, Tomislavgrad, Banja Luka and Siroki Brijeg.

  • Warning List

  • The world is not a very safe place at the moment.

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