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US Issues Travel Warning For Eritrea and Burundi

Tigrai Online
April 19, 2012

The United States has issued Travel Warnings advising its citizens of the risks of traveling to African countries of Burundi and Eritrea.

In a Travel Warning update on Wednesday, US State Department said it reiterates existing security concerns in Burundi, and that security restrictions on travel for US Embassy personnel in that country remain in place.

Because Burundi participates in peacekeeping operations in Somalia, 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, the State Department said.

Crime, often committed by groups of armed bandits or street children, poses the highest risk for foreign visitors to Burundi, especially in the capital, Bujumbura. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of armed criminals ambushing vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura. The U.S. Embassy prohibits U.S. government personnel from walking on the streets after dark and from using local public transportation at any time. Due to a lack of resources, local authorities in any part of Burundi are often unable to provide timely assistance during an emergency.

The U.S. Embassy continues to caution U.S. citizens that travel outside Bujumbura presents significant risks, especially after nightfall. The U.S. Embassy restricts travel of its personnel in Burundi. Within 30 km of the city, Embassy employees may travel in single vehicles, but must check in and out with the Embassy. The Embassy's Regional Security Officer (RSO) must pre-approve all Embassy personnel travel outside this approximately 30-km radius of Bujumbura, and employees must travel via an approved itinerary in two-vehicle convoys equipped with satellite phones and emergency equipment. All employee movement outside the city after dark is forbidden; the Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens not travel on national highways from dusk to dawn. U.S. citizens are also encouraged to avoid traveling within the city of Bujumbura after midnight.

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) so they can receive the most up-to-date security information.

In a separate Travel Warning update, the U.S. State Department strongly recommended U.S. citizens to defer all travel to Eritrea.

The Eritrean government continues to restrict the travel of all foreign nationals. These restrictions require all visitors and residents, including U.S. diplomats, to apply 10 days in advance for permission to travel outside Asmara's city limits. Permission is rarely granted. As a result, the U.S. Embassy is extremely limited in its ability to provide emergency consular assistance outside of the capital city of Asmara.

 Although there have been no specific incidents of violence targeting U.S. citizens, they are urged to exercise caution, stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.

U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid travel near the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and the Southern Red Sea region. U.S. citizens should be aware of the presence of large numbers of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops along the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and of political and military tensions between the two countries.

U.S. citizens on ships and sailing vessels are strongly advised not to sail off the Eritrean coast nor to attempt to dock in Eritrean ports or travel through Eritrean waters. They are also urged to avoid remote Eritrean islands, some of which may be used for Eritrean military training and could therefore be unsafe.

U.S. citizens choosing to travel to Eritrea despite this Travel Warning have been urged to obtain an Eritrean visa before their arrival. Persons arriving in Eritrea without a visa are generally refused admission and returned on the next flight back to their point of origin. The Embassy urges Eritrean-U.S. dual citizens to obtain an Eritrean visa in their U.S. passport before traveling to Eritrea and to enter the country as U.S. citizens. Eritrean-U.S. dual citizens who enter Eritrea with an Eritrean ID card may find it difficult to obtain the required visa to legally exit the country. The Embassy cautions travelers not to stay beyond the period of time granted at the time of admission by Eritrean Immigration.

The U.S. Embassy in Asmara strongly encouraged U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Eritrea despite this Travel Warning to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that they can receive the most up-to-date security information.

Source: RTT News

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