Lebanon Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
May 07, 2003
This Travel Warning is being updated to alert American citizens that the
Department of State has approved the return to Lebanon of authorized adult
dependents and non-emergency personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. This
supersedes the Travel Warning for Lebanon issued February 7, 2003.
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens to consider
carefully the risks of travel to Lebanon. U.S. citizens in Lebanon are
encouraged to register at the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut
and enroll in the warden system (emergency alert network) to obtain updated
information on travel and security in Lebanon. See registration details
Tensions in the Middle East have prompted continuing public expressions of
anti-U.S. rhetoric and public sentiment. Recent events in Lebanon, such as
bombings directed at U.S. franchises and the November 2002 murder of a U.S.
citizen in Sidon, underscore the need for caution and 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.
In the past, Americans were the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in
Lebanon. The perpetrators of many 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 United States.
Official U.S. government travelers take extraordinary security measures when
using the Beirut International Airport.
U.S. citizens who travel to Lebanon despite this Warning should exercise
heightened caution when traveling in parts of the southern suburbs of
Beirut, portions of the Bekaa Valley and South Lebanon, and the cities of
Sidon and Tripoli. Hizballah has not been disarmed, and it maintains a
strong presence in many of these areas, and there is potential for action by
other extremist groups in the city of Tripoli.
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 be avoided. Asbat al-Ansar, a terrorist group with
apparent links to
Al-Qaida, has targeted Lebanese, U.S. and other foreign 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 landmines 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 Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias, Beirut, Lebanon. 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. Information on consular
services and registration can also be found at http://www.usembassy.gov.lb.
U.S. citizens in Lebanon are urged to register and update their contact
information at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. American citizens registering at
the Embassy can receive updated information and warden messages via e-mail
by subscribing to [email protected] 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 telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600, 543-600, 544-310, 544-130,
544-140, and fax 544-209.
Updated information on travel and security in Lebanon may be obtained from
the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States,
or, from overseas, 1-317-472-2328. Additional details can be found in the
Department of State's Consular Information Sheet for Lebanon, the Worldwide
Caution Public Announcement and the Middle East and North Africa Public
Announcement and the Travel Publication "A Safe Trip Abroad," all of which
are available on the Department's Internet site at http://travel.state.gov.