Posted on September 29, 2009
Filed Under Travel Warnings -- From www.travel.state.gov | Comments Off
Medjet Travel Assistance Tip - The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to current safety and security concerns. Americans 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 May 13, 2009 and updates information on security threats and special circumstances in Lebanon.
While Lebanon enjoys periods of relative calm, the potential for a spontaneous upsurge in violence is real. Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt suddenly. Access to borders and ports can be interrupted with little or no warning. Public demonstrations occur frequently. Under such circumstances, the ability of U.S. government personnel to reach travelers or provide emergency services may at times be severely limited.
Americans have been the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the past, and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity continues to exist in Lebanon. On January 15, 2008, a U.S. Embassy vehicle was targeted in a bomb attack that killed three Lebanese bystanders. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon despite this Travel Warning should keep a low profile, varying times and routes for all required travel. Americans should also pay close attention to their personal security at locations where Westerners are generally known to congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large gatherings.
On May 7, 2008, Hizballah militants blocked the road to Rafiq Hariri International Airport in Beirut. The action rendered the airport inaccessible and travelers were unable to enter or leave the country via commercial air carriers. Armed Hizballah and other opposition members proceeded to enter areas of Lebanon not traditionally under their control, resulting in heavy fighting and a number of casualties. Full access to the airport was restored on May 21, 2008, when hostilities subsided. Access to the airport is considered vulnerable and could be cut off with little warning in the event of new hostilities.
Rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel continue to occur, most recently on September 11, 2009. These attacks frequently provoke a military response from Israel. The rocket attacks and responses occur with no warning.
Landmines and unexploded ordnance continually pose significant dangers throughout southern Lebanon, particularly south of the Litani River, as well as in areas of the country where civil war fighting was intense. More than 40 civilians have been killed and more than 300 injured by unexploded ordnance remaining from the armed conflict in July-August 2006. Travelers should watch for posted landmine warnings and strictly avoid all areas where landmines and unexploded ordnance may be present.
U.S. citizens traveling or resident in Lebanon despite this Travel Warning should be aware that the U.S. Embassy’s ability to reach all areas of Lebanon is limited. The Embassy cannot guarantee that Embassy employees will be able to render assistance to U.S. citizens in many areas of the country.
In the event that the security climate in the country worsens, Americans should be aware that they will bear the responsibility of arranging their own travel out of Lebanon. Americans 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 current U.S. passport will slow the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide assistance. U.S. citizens remaining 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 at http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emergencies/emergencies_1212.html.
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. These practices limit, and may occasionally prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas of the country. Because of security concerns, unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family members is discouraged and strictly limited and requires prior approval by the Department of State.
Americans living or traveling in Lebanon are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs. Americans are strongly encouraged to update their registration information if it is no longer current.
Travelers arriving at a Lebanese port of entry with an Israeli stamp in their passport may be detained, arrested or refused entry. Penalties are particularly harsh for dual nationals and those of Arab descent. Immigration officers also will refuse entry to anyone who previously entered Lebanon illegally. Travelers with questions about their legal status in Lebanon should contact a Lebanese embassy or consulate in the United States prior to their travel to Lebanon.
American citizens who come to work in Lebanon should ensure that their Lebanese employer arranges for proper documentation to remain in the country; this includes professional athletes, who should ensure that their sponsoring club/team arranges for them to receive the correct visas valid for the duration of their stay.
Americans planning to travel between Lebanon and Syria should consult the Department of State’s Consular Information Sheet for Syria. Americans planning to travel to Syria from Lebanon are strongly advised to obtain a Syrian visa before leaving the United States.
The Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias, Beirut, Lebanon. Public access hours for American citizens are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; however, American citizens who require emergency services outside of these hours may contact the Embassy by telephone at any time. The telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600, 543-600, and fax 544-209.
Information on consular services and registration can also be found at http://lebanon.usembassy.gov or by phone at the above telephone numbers between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m., Monday and Friday local time. Inquiries may also be sent via email to BeirutACS@state.gov.
Updated information on travel and security in Lebanon may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada or, from overseas, 1-202-501-4444. Additional details can be found in the Department of State’s Consular Information Sheet for Lebanon and the Worldwide Caution, which are available on the Department’s Internet website at http://travel.state.gov.
Posted on September 25, 2009
Filed Under Travel Alerts -- From www.travel.state.gov | Comments Off
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the quarantine measures imposed by the Government of China in response to the 2009-H1N1 pandemic that may affect travel to China. This Travel Alert updates the July 9, 2009, Travel Alert in order to advise U.S. citizens of the current quarantine situation. This Travel Alert expires on December 30, 2009.
In May 2009, China implemented a policy that allows it to quarantine arriving passengers who exhibit fever or flu-like symptoms. Although the overall percentage of U.S. citizens being quarantined remains low, the nature of the selection process makes it almost impossible to predict when a traveler may be placed into quarantine. From May to August 2009, the Department of State received thousands of reports of quarantined U.S. citizens. Since September, however, reports of U.S. citizens in quarantine have been infrequent.
In preparation for the October Chinese national holidays and for the fall/winter 2009 influenza season, local and provincial governments were tasked by the Chinese State Council on September 11 to strengthen disease control and mitigation measures, which could affect residents and travelers. Local and provincial policies towards 2009-H1N1 Influenza may remain unpredictable.
Although in July 2009 home quarantine was permitted as an option for some confirmed 2009-H1N1 Influenza cases, travelers are advised that quarantine in a designated hospital or facility remains a possibility. Quarantine practices, including the separation of children from their parents or guardians, can vary by location. In some quarantine situations, there exists the possibility of Chinese medical personnel administering medications to minors without parental permission; the unavailability of suitable drinking water and food; unsanitary conditions; lack of telephone access; absence of English-speaking staff; and limited availability of English-language interpreters. Travelers may also experience delays at airports, railway stations and other locations due to health screenings.
Travelers are advised that 2009-H1N1 vaccines approved by foreign regulatory bodies might be commercially available in China in the upcoming months. However, the U.S. Government has evaluated only thosevaccines that are licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
All foreign travelers, including U.S. citizens, are obliged to follow local procedures regarding quarantines and any other public health-related measures. The U.S. officials are unable to influence the duration of stay in quarantine for affected travelers. The Chinese government will not compensate people for lost travel expenses. Travelers to China are urged to consider purchasing travel insurance to protect against losses in the event they are quarantined.
For more information on U.S. Government policy during a pandemic, and for travel safety information, please see the State Department’s “Pandemic Influenza Fact Sheet,” and “Options During a Pandemic” flyers. Further information about 2009-H1N1 Influenza, including steps you can take to stay healthy, can be found at theU.S. Centers for Disease Control websitetheU.S. Government’s federal influenza website, and theWorld Health Organization website.
U.S. citizens are strongly encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through theDepartment of State’s travel registration website. By registering, American citizens can receive the Embassy’s most recent security and safety updates during their trip. Registration also ensures that U.S. citizens can be reached should an emergency arise either abroad or at home. While consular officers will do their utmost to assist Americans in a crisis, travelers should always be aware that local authorities bear primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.
Beijing:The U.S. Embassyis located at No. 55 An Jia Lou Road, Chaoyang District, Beijing. The American Citizen Services section can be contacted during regular business hours and for after-hours emergencies at (86)(10) 8531-4000 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Embassy consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong, Shanxi, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Gansu, and Xinjiang.
Chengdu:The U.S. Consulate General in Chengduis located at Number 4, Lingshiguan Road, Section 4, Renmin Nanlu, Chengdu 610041; tel. (86)(28) 8558-3992, 8555-3119, Email: email@example.com. For after-hours emergencies please call (86)(28) 1370 800 1422. This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Chongqing, Guizhou, Sichuan, Tibet, and Yunnan.
Guangzhou: The main office of theU.S. Consulate General in Guangzhouis located at Number 1 South Shamian Street, Shamian Island 200S1, Guangzhou 510133. The Consular Section, including the American Citizens Services Unit, is now located at 5th Floor, Tianyu Garden (II phase), 136-146 Lin He Zhong Lu, Tianhe District; tel. (86)(20) 8518-7605; after-hours emergencies (86)(20) 8121-8000, Email: GuangzhouACS@state.gov This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Guangdong, Fujian, Guangxi, and Hainan.
Shanghai: The Consular Section ofthe U.S. Consulate General in Shanghaiis located in the Westgate Mall, 8th Floor, 1038 Nanjing Xi Lu, Shanghai 200041; tel. (86)(21) 3217-4650; after-hours emergencies (86)(21) 6433-3936. Email: Shanghaiacs@state.gov. This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
Shenyang:The U.S. Consulate General in Shenyangis located at No. 52, 14th Wei Road, Heping District, Shenyang 110003; tel. (86)(24) 2322-1198; Email: ShenyangACS@state.gov. For after-hours emergencies (86)(24) 137-0988-9307. This consular district includes the following provinces/regions of China: Liaoning, Heilongjiang, and Jilin.
13. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States or outside the United States and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.
By Donna L. Hull
Digital cameras make recording those special vacation moments a snap. With the many features they offer today, taking great photos is easy. And, with a little preparation, your photographic experience will be hassle-free.
Before you go:
• Pull out the camera to re-familiarize yourself with the settings. Take a few practice shots and then download to your computer. Remembering how your camera functions now will save time and aggravation during the trip.
• Pack an extra battery. Are both the battery and the backup battery charged? Don’t forget the camera’s battery charger, too.
• Include extra memory cards.
Bring a card reader for downloading photos, if your laptop is traveling along with you.
Consider backing up photos to a DVD or a mini-hard drive, downloading to your computer is not enough.
• Be sure all photographic equipment is packed in your carry-on.
On the trip:
• Check the battery each night before going to bed, in case it needs recharging.
If you bring a laptop, download daily. This will help you remember where and when the photos were shot.
• Don’t clear the card until after you’ve backed up to a DVD or mini-hard drive.
• While clicking the camera shutter:
- Think small to capture the details, zooming in for close shots.
- Go big to record a grand scene, zooming out as wide as you can.
- Snap people shots, including action makes photos more interesting.
- Shoot away from the sun.
- Take advantage of the light, aiming for early morning or late afternoon photo sessions, if possible.
- Don’t become so engrossed with taking photos that you miss the experience.
- It may be the end of the trip, but don’t pack memory cards or your camera in checked luggage. You don’t want to loose those precious photos.
After you’re home:
• Use the features of your computer photo program to adjust color, light and sharpness.
• Upload photos to a photo-sharing site so that family and friends can see.
• Create a photo book from one of the many sites on the Internet. A few captions included with an assortment of photos will make a lasting memory of your trip.
• Start a blog to record your adventures.
Posted on September 22, 2009
Filed Under Travel Warnings -- From www.travel.state.gov | Comments Off
Medjet Travel Assistance Tip – The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the continued risks of traveling to Cote d’Ivoire and urges them to exercise caution while traveling there. This replaces the Travel Warning for Cote d’Ivoire dated December 15, 2008, to update information on the security and political situation.
Cote d’Ivoire has been a divided country since a 2002 failed coup attempt evolved into an armed rebellion that split the country in two. Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro signed the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) in March 2007, and a new government was formed with Soro as Prime Minister (PM). Implementation of the accord is ongoing, with elections scheduled for late 2009, but the government has not regained full control of the northern part of the country which remains under the de-facto control of the New Forces. The United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) currently operates a peacekeeping mission, and France maintains the Force Licorn in Cote d’Ivoire in support of UNOCI.
Given the unpredictable and sometimes tense situation in regions throughout the country, and the ongoing presence of two distinct military/peacekeeping forces, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution should they travel to Cote d’Ivoire, and to take special care when traveling outside Abidjan. Security conditions in the north and in the west can deteriorate without warning. Embassy personnel traveling to western Cote d’Ivoire are often required to use security escorts provided by the United Nations. U.S. citizens planning travel to Cote d’Ivoire should consult the Embassy or their host organization(s) for the most recent security assessment of the areas where they plan to travel. Crimes such as mugging, robbery, burglary, and carjacking pose the highest risk for foreign visitors in Abidjan. Visitors should be careful when stopped in heavy traffic or at roadblocks due to the threat of violent robbery, and should avoid travel outside of the city after dark. Land routes to neighboring countries are open, although overland travel to Liberia and Guinea is strongly discouraged, and caution is urged when crossing into Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.
Presidential elections are scheduled for November 29, 2009, but preparations are behind schedule. Although the unstable and unpredictable security environment that led to previous evacuations no longer prevails, Americans traveling to Cote d’Ivoire should follow political developments carefully, as there is potential for violence in the run-up to, and aftermath of, elections.
The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan, previously a partially unaccompanied post, allowed minor dependents to return to post as of June 2009. However, Embassy personnel and dependents are required to adhere to strict security policies and procedures. Embassy employees are instructed to be cautious when traveling within Abidjan and not to travel outside of the city at night. Private U.S. citizens are urged to follow the same guidelines. Embassy personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling more than 35 kilometers outside Abidjan. Some requests may be denied, or multi-vehicle convoys may be required for security reasons. U.S. residents in Cote d’Ivoire should maintain several days’ supply of cooking fuel, food, and water at home, and ensure that their vehicles are fully fueled at all times.
The U.S. Embassy is located in the Riviera Golf neighborhood of the Cocody section of Abidjan. The Embassy may close to the public temporarily from time to time in response to security developments. U.S. citizens who remain in, or travel to, Cote d’Ivoire despite this Travel Warning should consult the Department of State’s latest Consular Information Sheet for Cote d’Ivoire and the Worldwide Caution at http://travel.state.gov. U.S. citizens should register with the Embassy by completing a registration form on-line at https://travelregistration.state.gov/, or by calling (225) 22-49-40-00, or faxing (225) 22-49-42-02. U.S. citizens in Cote d’Ivoire who need emergency assistance should contact the Embassy at (225) 22-49-40-00.
Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside of the United States and Canada, 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).
Posted on September 17, 2009
Filed Under Travel Warnings -- From www.travel.state.gov | Comments Off
The State Department warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to the southern Philippine islands of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago and urges extreme caution if traveling there.This replaces the Travel Warning dated January 29, 2009, to reflect continuing threats due to terrorist and insurgent activities.
Travelers should exercise extreme caution if traveling in the central and western portions of the island of Mindanao, as well as in the islands of the Sulu Archipelago.Regional terrorist groups have carried out bombings resulting in injuries and death.Since August 2008, there have been sporadic clashes between lawless groups and the Philippine Armed Forces in the Mindanao provinces of North Cotabato, Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte, as well as the Sulu Archipelago.Kidnap-for-ransom gangs are active and have targeted foreigners.U.S. Government employees must seek special permission for travel to Mindanao or the Sulu Archipelago.Travelers to these areas should remain vigilant and avoid congregating in public areas.Some foreigners who reside in or visit Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago hire their own security.
The Department of State remains concerned about the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against U.S. citizens and interests throughout the world.TheWorldwide Caution reminds U.S. citizens that terrorism can occur anywhere.
The Department strongly encourages U.S. citizens in the Philippines to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila through theState Department’s travel registration website.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 theACS web page can be accessed online.
For information on general crime and security issues, U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for the Philippines and the Worldwide Caution, located at the Department of State’sBureau of Consular Affairs website .U.S. citizens may also obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 from the United States and Canada, or 202-501-4444 from overseas.keep looking »