Nepal Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Jun 08, 2004
This Travel Warning updates U.S. citizens on the security environment in Nepal, including continued anti-American threats, Maoist extortion of tourists and attacks on tourist facilities, disruption of civilian road transportation, and advises of risks associated with political demonstrations in Kathmandu. It also notes that the Department of State has designated the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as a Terrorist Organization. This supersedes the Travel Warning dated April 7, 2004.
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Nepal. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of increased Maoist threats, intimidation, harassment, robbery and extortion against foreigners on popular trekking routes, roads and tourist areas. Maoists reportedly have detained several American and other foreign trekkers, in one case for several days. Businesses identified with the U.S. have been attacked. Private vehicles transporting foreigners (including two Americans) have been stopped by Maoists and burned after passengers were forced to disembark. Interrupted telephone service to many trekking areas caused by Maoist destruction of communications infrastructure makes it difficult to locate travelers or arrange medical evacuations should emergencies occur.
The Department of State has designated the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) as a 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.
Maoist spokesmen continue to publish anti-American rhetoric and threaten U.S.-associated organizations. In addition, the U.S. Embassy has received reports of Maoist demands that U.S.-affiliated non-governmental organizations cease development projects in certain areas of the country. Several U.S. aid organizations have been forced to withdraw from various regions, sometimes on an emergency basis, because of specific Maoist threats.
Maoist insurgents have mounted military assaults on government security forces and civilian facilities throughout Nepal. Attacks are possible without warning in any part of the country. For example, Maoist leaders announced road closures (blockades) in certain western and southern districts of Nepal in March 2004. The Embassy received widespread reports, however, of Maoists forcibly blocking major roads throughout the country, including roads to Tibet, India, Chitwan, Pokhara, and Jiri. Recently, Maoists forcibly blocked all traffic in areas surrounding Pokhara, preventing the departure of tourists for an extended period and causing some to miss their international flights from Kathmandu. Other district centers have been blockaded without warning.
The Embassy advises against trekking to the Annapurna Base Camp or along the Annapurna Circuit until Maoist extortion and attacks end. The risk of rebel encounters and extortion is high on most trekking routes in Nepal, and Maoists have injured foreigners who argued with them or refused to pay. Unexploded ordnance has been reported along several portions of the Annapurna trails, which presents an additional risk.
On a number of occasions, Maoists have burned or bombed tourist resorts after the foreigners staying there were given short notice to evacuate. There are indications that the Maoists intend to target other tourist facilities and vehicles, in the near future. Due to possible violent encounters with rebels on roads used by tourists, U.S. citizens are advised to avoid road travel outside the Kathmandu Valley unless they have reliable information that they can proceed safely in specific areas at specific times. 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.
Maoists also detonate bombs periodically within Kathmandu itself. Several bombs have exploded in Thamel, a tourist hub. Political parties have staged daily demonstrations in Kathmandu since early April, which stop traffic and sometimes turn violent. The unpredictable nature of Maoist attacks and security force operations create a risk of U.S. citizens being in the wrong place at the wrong time during a violent incident.
U.S. citizens who travel to Nepal despite this Travel Warning should factor the potential for violence into their plans and maintain low profiles while in Nepal. U.S. citizens should avoid public demonstrations. During national strikes or "bandhs," many businesses are closed and the lack of public transport or taxis can make travel to and from Kathmandu, Chitwan, Pokhara and airports difficult.
Because of heightened risks, U.S. official personnel do not generally travel by road outside the Kathmandu Valley. Active duty military and DoD contractors must obtain a country clearance for official and unofficial travel to Nepal.
U.S. citizens are urged to register with the Consular Section of the Embassy by accessing the Embassy's home page at http://www.south-asia.com/USA, by e-mail to [email protected], or by personal appearance at the Embassy. The U.S. Embassy is located at Pani Pokhari in Kathmandu, telephone (977) (1) 441-1179; fax (977) (1) 444-4981. The Consular Section can provide updated information on travel and security.
Further information on travel to Nepal may be obtained from the Department of State's Consular Information Sheet and Worldwide Caution Public Announcement by calling 1-888- 407-4747 within the United States, 1-317-472- 2328 from overseas, or via the Internet on the Department of State's home page at http://travel.state.gov.