Nepal Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Apr 13, 2006
This Travel Warning is being updated to alert American citizens that due to ongoing security concerns in Nepal the U.S. Embassy has been granted authorized departure status. Family members and non-emergency American employees have permission to depart Nepal. American citizens are urged to evaluate their personal security posture and consider whether it is appropriate to remain in Nepal. American citizens also are advised that His Majesty's Government of Nepal continues to use curfews to control the growing number of large and widespread demonstrations. The Department of State urges American citizens to defer non-essential travel to Nepal and urges those Americans currently in Nepal consider departing in light of the information noted below. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on December 15, 2005.
The Department of State is concerned by the threat to the personal safety of Americans in Nepal posed by recent demonstrations. Political parties have indicated that they plan to continue to hold protests and/or mass demonstrations against the government, and the level of violence associated with demonstrations has increased. Protestors use violence, including burning vehicles, throwing rocks during street demonstrations and burning tires to block traffic. Demonstrators attacked an Embassy security vehicle on April 9, 2006, breaking some of the windows and windshield. Given the nature, intensity and unpredictability of these disturbances, American citizens are urged to exercise special caution during times when demonstrations are announced, avoid areas where demonstrations are occurring or crowds are forming, avoid road travel and maintain a low profile. His Majesty's Government of Nepal is likely to continue to use curfews to thwart demonstrations and American citizens who violate curfews run the risk of serious injury. Security forces have in the past received "shoot to kill" orders for curfew violators and confrontations between groups of violators and security personnel have become increasingly violent, including security forces using tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators. Four individuals have thus far been killed during demonstrations that began April 6. Curfews can be announced with little or no advance notice and American citizens are urged to consult media sources and the Embassy's website (http://kathmandu.usembassy.gov) for current security information. American citizens are cautioned against moving about by any means during curfews.
Some communications (mobile phones) have been cut-off in Nepal, and His Majestys Government of Nepal may cut off all communications (phone, internet) in the country.
Maoist supreme commander Prachanda issued a press statement on July 1, 2004, threatening to use "more violent means" if peace talks with the Government of Nepal are not forthcoming or are unsuccessful. The U.S. Department of State continues to regard this as an ongoing statement of intent. The Embassy has periodically received information that the Maoists might attempt to attack or take actions specifically against U.S. citizens, particularly in regions of the country where Maoists are active. Meanwhile, the Maoists have stated that they intend to provide support to the ongoing political demonstrations.
On a number of occasions, Maoists have burned or bombed tourist resorts after the foreigners staying there were given short notice to evacuate. The Maoists also periodically detonate bombs within Kathmandu itself. On September 10, 2004, two bombs exploded at the American Center compound. There were no injuries, but the blasts damaged the facility. The suspension of Peace Corps activities, which was announced on September 14, 2004, will continue until further notice. During the fall of 2004, several bombs exploded in Thamel, a tourist hub in Kathmandu.
Travel via road in some areas outside of the Kathmandu Valley continues to be dangerous and should be avoided. On April 9, Maoist leader Prachanda announced that Maoist forces would "take control of the highways." During recent road closures, Maoist cadres have attacked commercial trucks, buses and private vehicles defying their blockades, sometimes killing or severely injuring drivers. In March 2006, Maoists forcibly blocked all traffic coming into and out of the Kathmandu Valley. On June 6, 2005 Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) members detonated a landmine underneath a crowded bus in the Chitwan district, killing or injuring over a hundred people. In April 2005, two Russian tourists were injured when a bomb exploded on the highway near their taxi while driving east toward Jiri, Dolakha district. During announced road closures in the past, the Embassy received widespread reports of Maoists forcibly blocking major roads throughout the country, including roads to Tibet, India, Chitwan, Pokhara, and Jiri. During some closures, some districts were blockaded without warning. U.S. citizens are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for the latest security information, and to travel by air whenever possible.
In addition, there have been attacks in the countryside involving foreigners. Maoist extortion of tourists along some popular hiking trails continues. Trekkers and other individuals who resist Maoist extortion demands are threatened, sometimes assaulted and risk being detained. In March 2006, Maoists detained several Polish trekkers after the trekkers refused to pay Maoist extortion.
Because of heightened security risks, U.S. official personnel do not generally travel by road outside the Kathmandu Valley. All official travel outside the Kathmandu Valley, including by air, requires specific clearance by the Regional Security Officer. As a result, emergency assistance to U.S. citizens may be limited. Active duty military and Department of Defense contractors must obtain a country clearance for official and unofficial travel to Nepal.
The Department of State has designated the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" organization under the "Terrorist Exclusion List" of the Immigration and Nationality Act and under Executive Order 13224. These two designations make Maoists excludable from entry into the United States and bars U.S. citizens from transactions such as contribution of funds, goods, or services to, or for the benefit of the Maoists.
Although the rate of violent crime is low in Kathmandu, street crime does occur in Kathmandu as well as in other areas frequented by foreigners. Solo trekkers have also been robbed by small groups of young men, even on some popular trails. Although attacks against foreigners are rare, in late 2005 two European women were murdered in Nargarjun Forest, a popular tourist destination. The two murders occurred within weeks of each other and both involved women hiking alone. The body and valuables of one woman were recovered, and theft did not appear to be the motivation behind the crime. Both crimes remain unsolved, and no culprit has been identified.
The Department of State urges American citizens to defer non-essential travel to Nepal and that Americans currently in Nepal consider departing in light of the current security situation. U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Nepal despite this Travel Warning should factor the potential for violence into their plans, avoid public demonstrations and maintain low profiles while in Nepal. U.S. citizens are urged to register with the Consular Section of the Embassy by accessing the Department of States travel registration site at https://travelregistration.state.gov or by personal appearance at the Consular Section. The Consular Section is located at the Yak and Yeti Hotel complex on Durbarmarg Street. The section can be reached directly at (977) (1) 444-5577 or through the Embassy switchboard. The U.S. Embassy is located at Pani Pokhari in Kathmandu, telephone (977) (1) 441-1179; fax (977) (1) 444-4981, website http://kathmandu.usembassy.gov. The Consular Section can provide updated information on travel and security.
U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Nepal and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement via the Internet on the Department of State's home page at http://travel.state.gov or by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, 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).