Lebanon Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Dec 10, 2002
This Travel Warning is being issued to update the security situation in
Lebanon. The Department of State warns American citizens of the potential
danger of travel to Lebanon and recommends that Americans exercise caution
if traveling there. This replaces the Travel Warning for Lebanon issued
April 29, 2002.
The increase in tensions in the Middle East has prompted a dramatic rise in
anti U.S. rhetoric and public sentiment. Recent incidents in Lebanon, such
as bombings directed at U.S. franchises and the murder of a U.S. citizen in
Sidon, underscore the need for American citizens to be cautious and take
sound personal security precautions. There have also been demonstrations
and spontaneous protests, sometimes violent, in Lebanon's Palestinian
refugee camps, most major cities, and near the U.S. Embassy and United
Nations headquarters. Lebanon's southern border has been quieter in recent
months, although tensions remain high. Hizballah and Palestinian militant
activity there could increase without warning.
During Lebanon's civil conflict from 1975 to 1990, Americans were the
targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon. The perpetrators of these
attacks are still present in Lebanon and retain the ability to act.
The U.S. Government considers the potential threat to U.S. Government
personnel assigned to Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live
and work under a strict security regime. This limits the movement of U.S.
Embassy officials in certain areas of the country. This factor, plus
limited staffing, prevents the Embassy from performing full consular
functions and may hinder timely assistance to Americans in Lebanon.
Unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family
members requires prior approval by the Department of State.
American air carriers are prohibited from using Beirut International Airport
(BIA) due to continuing concern about airport and aircraft security
arrangements. For similar reasons, the Lebanese carrier Middle East
Airlines (MEA) is not permitted to operate service into the U.S. However,
sales of airline tickets for travel to Lebanon are permitted in the U.S.,
including on MEA. Official U.S. government travelers take extraordinary
security measures when using the Beirut International Airport.
The Department of State keeps the security situation in Lebanon under close
review and will address additional risks and take any other appropriate
steps as necessary. U.S. citizens who travel to Lebanon should exercise
caution when traveling in parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut and
portions of the Bekaa Valley and South Lebanon. Hizballah has not been
disarmed and it maintains a strong presence in these areas.
Palestinian groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the U.S.
operate largely autonomously inside refugee camps in different areas of the
country. Intra communal violence within the camps has resulted in violent
incidents such as shootings and explosions. Travel by U.S. citizens to
Palestinian camps should therefore be avoided. Asbat al-Ansar, a terrorist
group with apparent links to Al-Qaida, has targeted U.S. and Lebanese
government interests. It has been outlawed by the Lebanese government but
continues to maintain a presence in Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp.
Dangers posed by land mines and unexploded ordnance throughout south Lebanon
are significant and also exist in other areas where civil war fighting was
intense. Travelers should be aware of posted mine warnings and strictly
avoid all areas where mines and unexploded ordnance may be present.
Security conditions in areas along the Israel-Lebanon border are subject to
change. There have been isolated incidents resulting in civilian injuries,
including from accidental detonation of mines and confrontations across the
border with Israeli forces in the immediate area of the border demarcation.
The security situation may change rapidly, and visitors to Lebanon should
monitor the news for reports of incidents that might affect their personal
safety. From time to time the Embassy may temporarily suspend public
services to review its security posture. In those instances, U.S. citizens
who require emergency services may telephone the Embassy.
U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Lebanon are encouraged to register
at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Public access hours for American citizens are
Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. Contact with the U.S.
Embassy on specific registration requirements may take place by phone, fax,
or mail. American Citizens registering at the Embassy can receive updated
information and warden messages via e-mail by subscribing to American
Citizen Services inquiries are answered by phone from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Monday through Friday. However, American citizens who require emergency
services outside of these hours can contact the Embassy by telephone at any
time. The Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias, P.O. Box 70-840,
Beirut, Lebanon. The telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600, 543-600,
544-310, 544-130, 544-140, and fax 544-209. Additional details can be found
in the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet for Lebanon
at http://travel.state.gov/lebanon.html. The Embassy web site is