Ivory Coast Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Apr 14, 2011
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against traveling to Cote d'Ivoire. U.S. citizens who remain in Cote d'Ivoire should watch conditions carefully, maintain situational awareness, and pay very close attention to their personal security. The security situation continues to remain fluid in Abidjan and can change quickly and without much advance warning. There are continued reports of lawlessness in various neighborhoods in Abidjan following former President Laurent Gbagbo's arrest and detention. Instances may continue to arise where the best course of action is for citizens to temporarily shelter in place if it is otherwise generally safe to do so. Because of safety and security concerns, the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan reduced the number of personnel from the mission, and, depending on the circumstances, the Embassy's ability to assist in an emergency may be limited. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning of April 9, 2011 to update U.S. citizens on the current security situation.
On April 11, Ivoirian military forces arrested former President Laurent Gbagbo. Since his defeat to President Alassane Ouattara in the November 2010 presidential election, Gbagbo had refused to yield power. Lawlessness, food shortages, and the banking crisis are potential dangers and problems for U.S. citizens in Abidjan. In late March, the political crisis deteriorated into armed conflict between pro-Ouattara and pro-Gbagbo forces, as pro-Ouattara forces took control of towns in the west and central parts of Cote d'Ivoire and converged on Abidjan. Although the situation has calmed since Mr. Gbagbo’s arrest, law and order has yet to return to all of Abidjan’s neighborhoods.
U.S. citizens who have remained in Cote d’Ivoire despite previous Travel Warnings advising to depart should understand the present limitations imposed upon the U.S. Embassy. The Embassy has a diminished ability to respond in a crisis to those citizens who chose to remain in Cote d’Ivoire.
French military has scaled back civilian assistance and is no longer providing refuge at the Licorne base near the international airport. U.S. citizens who wish to depart the country as soon as it is safe to do so should check the Abidjan International Airport website to determine flight availability. U.S. citizens are advised to assess very carefully any plans to leave a safe area in an attempt to get to the airport.
The Embassy hopes to re-open the consular section on or about April 18, but services are likely to be limited as operations resume. Contacting the Consular Section before making a visit would be prudent under the circumstances. We need to reiterate that because of the conditions in the country, the Embassy has severely diminished capacity to assist U.S. citizens and that in the event of a temporary flare-up in violence sheltering in place is often your best option.
U.S. citizens currently in Cote d'Ivoire despite this and the previous Travel Warnings should enroll with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), by sending contact information including email and cell phone to [email protected] The Department of State's latest Country Specific Information sheet for the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire and the Worldwide Caution is located on the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Current safety and security information is also available toll-free at 1-888-407-4747 from within the United States and Canada, or at regular toll rates at 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside of the United States and Canada, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). You can also stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.