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Ivory Coast Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Sep 22, 2009

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the continued risks of traveling to Cote d’Ivoire and urges them to exercise caution while traveling there. This replaces the Travel Warning for Cote d’Ivoire dated December 15, 2008, to update information on the security and political situation.

Cote d’Ivoire has been a divided country since a 2002 failed coup attempt evolved into an armed rebellion that split the country in two. Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro signed the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) in March 2007, and a new government was formed with Soro as Prime Minister (PM). Implementation of the accord is ongoing, with elections scheduled for late 2009, but the government has not regained full control of the northern part of the country which remains under the de-facto control of the New Forces. The United Nations Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) currently operates a peacekeeping mission, and France maintains the Force Licorn in Cote d’Ivoire in support of UNOCI.

Given the unpredictable and sometimes tense situation in regions throughout the country, and the ongoing presence of two distinct military/peacekeeping forces, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution should they travel to Cote d’Ivoire, and to take special care when traveling outside Abidjan. Security conditions in the north and in the west can deteriorate without warning. Embassy personnel traveling to western Cote d’Ivoire are often required to use security escorts provided by the United Nations. U.S. citizens planning travel to Cote d'Ivoire should consult the Embassy or their host organization(s) for the most recent security assessment of the areas where they plan to travel. Crimes such as mugging, robbery, burglary, and carjacking pose the highest risk for foreign visitors in Abidjan. Visitors should be careful when stopped in heavy traffic or at roadblocks due to the threat of violent robbery, and should avoid travel outside of the city after dark. Land routes to neighboring countries are open, although overland travel to Liberia and Guinea is strongly discouraged, and caution is urged when crossing into Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.

Presidential elections are scheduled for November 29, 2009, but preparations are behind schedule. Although the unstable and unpredictable security environment that led to previous evacuations no longer prevails, Americans traveling to Cote d’Ivoire should follow political developments carefully, as there is potential for violence in the run-up to, and aftermath of, elections.

The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan, previously a partially unaccompanied post, allowed minor dependents to return to post as of June 2009. However, Embassy personnel and dependents are required to adhere to strict security policies and procedures. Embassy employees are instructed to be cautious when traveling within Abidjan and not to travel outside of the city at night. Private U.S. citizens are urged to follow the same guidelines. Embassy personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling more than 35 kilometers outside Abidjan. Some requests may be denied, or multi-vehicle convoys may be required for security reasons. U.S. residents in Cote d’Ivoire should maintain several days’ supply of cooking fuel, food, and water at home, and ensure that their vehicles are fully fueled at all times.

The U.S. Embassy is located in the Riviera Golf neighborhood of the Cocody section of Abidjan. The Embassy may close to the public temporarily from time to time in response to security developments. U.S. citizens who remain in, or travel to, Cote d'Ivoire despite this Travel Warning should consult the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet for Cote d'Ivoire and the Worldwide Caution at http://travel.state.gov. U.S. citizens should register with the Embassy by completing a registration form on-line at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/home.asp, or by calling (225) 22-49-40-00, or faxing (225) 22-49-42-02. U.S. citizens in Cote d'Ivoire who need emergency assistance should contact the Embassy at (225) 22-49-40-00.

Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside of the United States and Canada, by calling 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).

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