Somalia Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Aug 19, 2011
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 27, 2010, to update information on security concerns.
Assassinations, suicide bombings, and indiscriminate armed attacks in civilian populated areas are frequent in Somalia. In August and September 2010, terrorists launched an offensive against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and African Union (AU) peacekeeping forces involving multiple attacks against local and international targets. On February 21, terrorists exploded a suicide truck bomb at the gate of Sarangi police camp in Mogadishu’s Hamar Jajab district, killing 17 people and wounding more than 40 others. On May 30, AU peacekeepers engaged in a shootout with al-Shabaab insurgents just outside of the AMISOM base in Mogadishu, thwarting an attempted suicide bombing. On June 10, a suicide bomber killed the TFG’s Minister of Interior at his residence.
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. In light of the serious security threats, the U.S. Government recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to 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. On August 10, clashes between Puntland troops and security guards escorting Somaliland officials in Sanaag region killed one person and wounded several others. Several targeted killings and assassinations have been reported in the region. There also have been several fatal attacks and violent kidnappings against international relief workers throughout southern 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. Lines of control in Mogadishu are unclear and frequently shift, making movement within Mogadishu extremely hazardous. Despite al-Shabaab’s August 6 unexpected withdrawal from its front lines in Mogadishu, the security situation in the city still remains highly unpredictable and extremely dangerous.
U.S. citizens are urged to avoid sailing closer than 300 miles from 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. Somali pirates captured and killed four U.S. citizens aboard their boat on February 22. 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 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 enroll their travel with the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, and travelers to Puntland or southern Somalia should enroll 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 firstname.lastname@example.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 United States and Canada or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. 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.