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Somalia Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Dec 27, 2010

The State Department warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Somalia and recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to Somalia.  This replaces the Travel Warning dated December 31, 2009, to update information on security concerns.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Somalia, including northern Somalia.  In August and September of 2010, terrorists launched a military offensive attack against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union (AU) peacekeeping forces involving multiple attacks against local and international targets.  In another attack on August 24, two terrorists launched a machine gun and suicide vest attack against the Hotel Muna, reportedly killing 24 people.  On August 31, a roadside bomb exploded and damaged three civilian minibuses killing at least nine people and wounding 25 others, and on September 9, two suicide bombers killed themselves in an attack on Mogadishu airport.

There is no U.S. Embassy or other U.S. diplomatic presence in Somalia.  Consequently, the U.S. Government is not in a position to assist or effectively provide services to U.S. citizens in Somalia. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated their intent and capability to attack air operations at Mogadishu International Airport.  Kidnapping, murder, illegal roadblocks, banditry, and other violent incidents and threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners can occur in any region.  Inter-clan and inter-factional fighting flares up with little or no warning. 

Unpredictable armed conflicts among rival militias are prevalent in southern Somalia, particularly in and around Mogadishu.  This has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Somali nationals and the displacement of nearly one million people.

The Sanaag and Sool Regions in eastern Somaliland, bordering on Puntland (northeastern Somalia), are particularly unsafe due to ongoing border disputes and inter-clan fighting.  Lines of control in Mogadishu are unclear and frequently shift, making movement within Mogadishu extremely hazardous.  There also have been several fatal attacks and violent kidnappings against international relief workers throughout Somalia, Somaliland, and Puntland.  On October 14, 2010, a British relief worker was kidnapped in Adado, near the Ethiopian border and held for several days before being released.

U.S. citizens are urged to use extreme caution when sailing near the coast of Somalia.  Merchant vessels, fishing boats, and recreational craft all risk seizure by pirates and having their crews held for ransom in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia.  If transit around the Horn of Africa is necessary, it is strongly recommended that vessels travel in convoys, maintain good communications contact at all times, and follow the guidance provided by the Maritime Security Center – Horn of Africa (MSC-HOA).  U.S. citizens should consult the Maritime Administration’s Horn of Africa Piracy page (http://www.marad.dot.gov/news_room_landing_page/horn_of_africa_piracy/horn_of_africa_piracy.htm) for information on maritime advisories, self-protection measures, and naval forces in the region.

U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Somalia 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.  Travelers to the self-declared "Republic of Somaliland" should register with the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, and travelers to Puntland or southern Somalia should register with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.  U.S. citizens traveling by sea to the area of high threat are urged to inform MSC-HOA by emailing postmaster@mschoa.org, with the subject line 'Yacht Vessel Movement.' U.S. Embassy Djibouti is located at Plateau du Serpent, Boulevard Marechal Joffre, Djibouti City; telephone (253) 35-39-95; after-hours telephone number (253) 35-13-43.  The mailing address is Ambassade Americaine, B.P. 185, Djibouti, Republique de Djibouti, and their workweek is Sunday through Thursday.  U.S. Embassy Nairobi is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (254)(20) 363-6000; after-hours emergencies (254)(20) 363-6170.  The mailing address is P.O. Box 606 Village Market 00621, Nairobi, Kenya.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Somalia and the Worldwide Caution, which are located on the Department of State's website.  Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  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.

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