East Timor Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Nov 01, 2006

This Travel Warning is being updated to inform Americans of ongoing security concerns in East Timor and to urge American citizens to defer non-essential travel to East Timor at this time. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on July 18, 2006.

Although the Department of State authorized lifting the ordered departure status of the U.S. Embassy in Dili on July 18, the Department remains concerned by the threat to the personal safety of Americans in East Timor due to continued indiscriminate communal and politically motivated violence, particularly in the capital, Dili. American citizens are urged to defer non-essential travel to East Timor. Demonstrations in response to the dismissal of 595 members of the armed forces escalated into rioting and violence in April and May. The presence of international troops and police beginning in late May has improved the security situation. However, an upsurge in violence in late October resulted in the deaths of several people, and a number of serious security concerns remain, including:

  • The international airport was closed on October 25 due to violent disturbances in its vicinity. The airport has returned to normal operations and security has been augmented. However, travelers who do not defer travel to East Timor should check the status of flights and security in the area prior to commencing travel.
  • There are continued incidents of gang related violence in Dili and an associated risk to Americans being intentionally or inadvertently injured by such violence. Stone-throwing attacks on cars are frequent, and have affected American citizens on several occasions. The beach road running from the harbor to beyond the U.S. Embassy has become particularly prone to stone throwing at vehicles. Americans who travel to East Timor despite this warning should exercise extreme caution and maintain a high level of security awareness while moving about in Dili.
  • Several areas of Dili have become sites of chronic security incidents. These include in particular the areas around the camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Americans are advised to avoid these areas and check with the U.S. Embassy regarding other areas of concern.
  • The Government of Australia has revised its travel advice for East Timor to include a warning that Australians and Australian interests may be targeted. There is a risk that such targeting could encompass foreigners indiscriminately, including Americans. The Australian travel advice can be viewed at http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/Advice/East_Timor
  • Sexual assaults against foreign nationals have occurred and may increase in the current environment. Female travelers are advised to exercise particular caution and to avoid travel alone on foot or in taxis, especially at night and in unfamiliar or isolated areas.
  • There have been illegal checkpoints operated in some areas of the city. Most frequently taxis and minibuses are stopped with the intent of extortion; in some cases East Timorese were identified for more violent targeting. American citizens are advised against using taxis or minibuses for transportation.

  • The Department of State advises U.S. citizens traveling or residing in East Timor to be alert to the potential for violence, to avoid those areas where disturbances have occurred, and to avoid demonstrations and large gatherings. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.

Americans in East Timor should immediately register at the Embassy and obtain all recent messages sent to the American community in East Timor. The U.S. Embassy in Dili can be reached at 670 332-4684 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time or the duty officer outside business hours at 670-723-0949. The U.S. Embassy is located on Avenida de Portugal in the Pantai Kelapa area. U.S. citizens living in or traveling to East Timor can also register through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov

For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov/, where the current Worldwide Cautions, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Travelers should also consult the Department of State's latest Consular information Sheet for East Timor. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada. Callers outside of the U.S. and Canada may call 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 on U.S. federal holidays).

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