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Iraq Travel Warning

Issued by U.S. Department of State

Oct 31, 2002

This Travel Warning is being updated because of reports that foreigners may face the risk of kidnapping in Iraq. The U.S. Government continues to urge all U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Iraq, and those U.S. citizens in Iraq to depart, in light of Iraq's continuing challenges to the U.S./Coalition enforcement of the no-fly zones, and the potential for retaliatory action by the Government of Iraq against U.S. citizens. This warning replaces the Travel Warning of July 20, 2001.

Iraq continues to engage in a persistent pattern of challenges to the no-fly zones over northern and southern Iraq. These challenges include firing on the aircraft enforcing the no-fly zones, illuminating them with surface-to-air missile radar, and placing bounties on coalition aircrews. Coalition aircraft respond in self-defense to Iraqi threats by striking Iraq's air-defense system. Injuries to civilians have resulted from Iraqi anti-aircraft ordnance returning to earth in populated areas.

Conditions throughout Iraq remain unsettled and dangerous. Foreigners present in Iraq have in the past been used as "human shields" by the regime during periods of confrontation with the international community. There are credible reports that foreigners may face the risk of kidnapping in Iraq.

U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in or through Iraq, unless they are validated by the Department of State. The only exceptions are the passports of American professional reporters or journalists on assignment in Iraq and Americans residing in Iraq as of February 8, 1991.

The United States does not have diplomatic relations with Iraq, and there is no U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. While our interests in Iraq are represented by the Embassy of the Republic of Poland in Baghdad via the U.S. Interests Section, that Embassy's ability to obtain consular access to detained U.S. citizens and to perform other emergency services may be severely constrained by Iraq's unwillingness to cooperate. In addition, the United Nations and the United States imposed sanctions that restrict financial and economic activities with Iraq, including travel-related transactions.

For further general information about travel to Iraq, please consult the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet for Iraq, which may be found on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov.

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