Egypt Travel Alert
The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the risks of traveling to Egypt due to continuing political and social unrest.
This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on January 30, 2014, and will expire on May 22, 2014.
Based on an assessment of the security situation in Egypt, the Department of State lifted the ordered departure status for U.S. Embassy personnel on November 6, 2013.The State Department lifted ordered departure status for U.S. Consulate General Alexandria on December 16, 2013. However, Consulate General personnel are based out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo while required facility security upgrades are made.
Political unrest, which intensified after the July 2013 change of government, is likely to continue in the near future. Demonstrations have on numerous occasions resulted in violent clashes between security forces and protesters and between protesters supporting rival factions, some of which have resulted in deaths and injuries to those involved and in property damage. Participants have generally thrown rocks, and Molotov cocktails, with security forces responding with tear gas. However, police on occasion have used live ammunition as a crowd control measure and in response to live ammunition used by demonstrators against police. Most violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including Cairo and its suburbs, Alexandria, and Port Said. Gender-based violence in and around protest areas, where women have been the targets of sexual assault, poses an ongoing concern. There has been a recent and notable increase in the use of explosive devices to target police or other government institutions or individuals, which have resulted in casualties and damage to infrastructure. Additionally, police officers have frequently been the targets of drive-by shootings that endanger bystanders as well.
The security situation in North Sinai, including the major east-west coastal highway and the towns of El Arish, Shaykh Zuwayd, El Gorah and Rafah, has been marked by ongoing violent attacks on Egyptian security personnel and by continuing and frequently intense security operations against the sources of violence. The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to North Sinai.
The security situation in most tourist centers, including Luxor, Aswan, the Luxor-Aswan Nile cruise routes, and Red Sea/Southern Sinai resorts such as Hurghada and Sharm el Sheikh remains calm. However, on February 16, a bomb was detonated on a tourist bus, killing four people in Taba, a Sinai resort near the Israeli border. U.S. citizens should remain alert to local security developments.
The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse. On June 28, 2013, a U.S. citizen was killed during a demonstration in Alexandria. U.S. citizens have also been arrested and deported for proximity to demonstrations and for taking pictures of demonstrations, police and military. Foreign journalists, credentialed or not, have also been increasingly targeted by both security forces and Egyptian citizens while attempting to cover demonstrations or gain access to restricted areas. Several have been detained for prolonged periods as a result of their activities, and others have been subjected to verbal or physical assault by citizens suspicious about the reason for their presence.
Because of the proximity of the U.S. Embassy to Tahrir Square and other demonstration locations in Cairo, the U.S. Embassy has sometimes been closed to the public on short notice due to violent protests. The Embassy will notify U.S. citizens as quickly as possible of any closing and the types of emergency consular services that will be available. Should security forces block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, U.S. citizens should contact the American Citizens Services section before attempting to come to the U.S. Embassy during that time. U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to carry identification and, if moving about alone, a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Egypt.
The U.S. Embassy restricts its employees and their family members from traveling to specific areas listed in the Country Specific Information Sheet, and advises all U.S. citizens to do the same. Depending on the current security situation, the U.S. Embassy may also restrict the movements of its employees and their families within Cairo itself. We continue to urge U.S. citizens to stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Please check our Country Specific Information Sheet for further security guidance. Remain alert to local security developments and be vigilant regarding your personal security; know the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy.
Unless otherwise indicated in a public announcement, the U.S. Embassy is open for all routine American Citizens Services by appointment. U.S. citizens needing emergency assistance do not need an appointment. Visit the Embassy website to check the latest changes to Embassy hours or services. U.S. citizens with routine phone inquiries may call the Embassy's American Citizens Services section at 2797-2301, Sunday to Thursday from 9:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300. The U.S. Embassy is closed on U.S. federal holidays. U.S. citizens in Egypt are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information for Egypt, Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts can be found. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, 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).
The U.S. Embassy in Egypt is located at 5 Tawfik Diab Street (formerly known as Latin America Street), Garden City, Cairo. For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300.
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Thailand Travel Alert
The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens of the potential risks of travel to Thailand, particularly Bangkok, due to ongoing political and social unrest.
General voting for national elections took place on February 2, but the electoral process remains incomplete. Demonstrations, primarily in the greater Bangkok area and occasionally elsewhere in Thailand, are continuing, and there have been regular incidents of violence. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations, and large gatherings. Some protest sites are located near tourist attractions and popular shopping malls, which at times have closed or shortened business hours unexpectedly. Protests may occur in other areas with little or no prior notice. This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on January 19, 2014, and will expire on May 19, 2014.
Political demonstrations in Thailand have taken place regularly since early November 2013. Most protest activity has occurred in the Bangkok area, but on occasion there have been smaller demonstrations in other areas, including Chiang Mai. Although many protest activities have been peaceful, violent incidents involving guns and explosive devices have occurred at or near protest sites. Some have resulted in injury or death. In Bangkok, protests have been mobile throughout the city, with large numbers of demonstrators at times swelling quickly and closing major roads and intersections. The majority of the demonstrations have occurred in the vicinity of Thai government facilities and at major intersections including Lumpini Park, Sala Daeng, Asoke, Ratchaprasong, Pathumwan, and at the Government Center at Chaengwattana. In January 2014, protestors took control of these intersections, blocking most vehicular traffic, and occasionally redirecting pedestrian traffic. These sites have drawn large crowds, especially in evenings and on weekends. There is often reduced or no police presence at protest sites, where protest “guards” frequently control access.
On January 22, the Royal Thai Government commenced a 60-day state of emergency in Bangkok and several surrounding provinces. The emergency decree provides the government additional authorities to deal with security challenges, such as the ability to impose curfews, ban certain assemblies, detain suspects without charge, and restrict information. The government has signaled its intention to take legal measures against some non-Thai citizens who have participated in protest activities.
U.S. citizens are cautioned that even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. You should avoid protest sites, demonstrations, and large gatherings. Be alert and aware of your surroundings and pay attention to local news media reports. You should allow extra time when travelling throughout the city or to/from airports. Consider using public transportation.
U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Thailand are strongly advised to enroll in the State Department's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. By enrolling, you make it easier for the U.S. embassy or consulate to contact you in case of an emergency.
Unless otherwise indicated in a public announcement, the U.S. Embassy is open for all routine American Citizens Services by appointment. U.S. citizens needing emergency assistance do not need an appointment. The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy is located at 95 Wireless Road in Bangkok, and can be reached by calling66-2-205-4049, or by email@example.com. The Embassy's after-hours emergency telephone number is66-2-205-4000.
The U.S. Consulate General in Chiang Mai, located at 387 Wichayanond Road in Chiang Mai, is also open unless otherwise indicated. The American Citizen Services Unit of the Consulate General can be reached by calling 66-53-107-777 and by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The after-hours emergency telephone number is 66-81-881-1878. You can also follow the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok's American Citizen Services Unit on Twitter for further updates.
Current information on safety and security can also be obtained ontravel.state.gov or by calling1-888-407-4747toll-free in the United States or a regular toll line at1-202-501-4444for callers from other countries. These numbers are available from8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.Eastern Time,MondaythroughFriday(except U.S. federal holidays).
U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Thailand. 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 facebook as well.
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Russian Federation Travel Alert
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens planning to attend the 2014 Olympic Games in Russia that they should remain attentive regarding their personal security at all times.
The Olympic and Paralympic Games will take place in Sochi, Russia, from February 7 to March 16, 2014. This travel alert replaces the alert issued on January 24, 2014, and provides updated information on reported threats against the Games, cyber-security risks, identification requirements, and lodging. This Travel Alert expires on March 24, 2014. Full information about the Olympic and Paralympic games for U.S. citizen visitors is available on the Sochi Fact Sheet and the Country Specific Information for the Russian Federation on our website, travel.state.gov. The Department strongly recommends that all U.S. citizens residing or traveling abroad enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive pertinent safety and security information.
MEDICAL CARE: The Olympics are the first large-scale event to be held in Sochi and medical capacity and infrastructure in the region are untested for handling the volume of visitors expected for the Olympics. Medical care in many Russian localities differs substantially from Western standards due to differing practices and approaches to primary care. Travelers should consider purchasing private medical evacuation and/or repatriation insurance.
TERRORISM: Large-scale public events such as the Olympics present an attractive target for terrorists, and the U.S. government continues to monitor reported threats of potential terrorist attacks in Sochi or in Russia in general. Acts of terrorism, including bombings and hostage takings, continue to occur in Russia, particularly in the North Caucasus region. Between October 15 and December 30, 2013, there were three suicide bombings targeting public transportation in the city of Volgograd (600 miles from Sochi), two of which occurred within the same 24-hour period. In early January 2014, media reports emerged about the possible presence of so-called “black widow” suicide bombers in Sochi. These reports have not been corroborated, and the U.S. government continues to seek further information. Other bombings over the past 10-15 years occurred at Russian government buildings, airports, hotels, tourist sites, markets, entertainment venues, schools, and residential complexes. There have also been large-scale attacks on public transportation including subways, buses, trains, and scheduled commercial flights, in the same time period. On January 11, 2014 Russia implemented a “no liquids” policy for carry-on bags on flights originating within Russia in response to potential security threats against commercial aircraft. In line with the Government of Russia’s actions, on February 6, 2014, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration implemented similar precautionary measures for direct flights between the United States and Russia.
In July 2013, Doku Umarov, the head of the Caucasus Emirate (an organization the United States designated as a terrorist organization in 2010, and known in Russian as the Imirat Kavkaz or IK) released a video message rescinding prior directions not to attack civilians and calling for attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Caucasus Emirate is responsible for many of the aforementioned attacks. The group has targeted civilians, as indirect supporters of the government, including through attacks on a ski resort, metro system, high-speed rail, airport, and a theater. Westerners have not specifically been targeted, but are viewed by IK as complicit in the Russian government's efforts to control the North Caucasus region. In January 2014, another video was released by a radical Islamist group claiming responsibility for the Volgograd bombings and promising “a present for tourists” in connection with the Olympic Games in Sochi.
Travelers to Sochi should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around the Olympic venues. There is no indication of a specific threat to U.S. institutions or citizens, but U.S. citizens should be aware of their personal surroundings and follow good security practices. U.S. citizens are urged to remain vigilant and exercise good judgment and discretion when using any form of public transportation. When traveling, U.S. citizens may wish to provide a friend, family member, or coworker a copy of their itinerary.
The U.S. Embassy will continue to monitor the security situation in Sochi throughout the Olympics. In the event the U.S. government receives information of any specific and credible threat, the Department of State will immediately provide information to the public. Information about potential threats to safety and security can be found on the Embassy’swebsiteand theDepartment of State’s travel website. Individuals who have enrolled in STEP will receive this information directly via email.
CRIME: U.S. citizens planning to attend the Games in Sochi should remain alert regarding their personal security at all times. Criminal activity in Sochi is similar to other cities of comparable size. However, major events such as the Olympic Games are a prime opportunity for criminal elements to target tourists, and travelers should be alert to the possibility of mugging, pick pocketing, theft, and harassment. Travelers should avoid going out alone at night and carrying large amounts of money or other valuables. Since cash may be the only accepted form of payment outside Olympic venues, consider keeping money in a hotel safe or dividing money and placing it in several different locations on your person. Purses, wallets, cell phones, and electronics should be secured in public, especially while traveling on buses, trains, or other forms of public transportation. Travelers should only use marked taxi services and prearrange transportation through hotel concierge or other reputable services whenever possible. If you are stopped by the police, you may ask to see the officer’s identification. Photocopies of passports, visas, credit cards, and other important documents should be kept in a secure location so proper notifications can be made if original documents are lost or stolen.
CYBER SECURITY: U.S. travelers should be aware of cyber security threats and understand that they have no expectation of privacy when sharing sensitive or personal information utilizing Russian electronic communication networks.
IDENTIFICATION: Russian police officers have the authority to stop people and request identity and travel documents at any time and without cause. Due to the possibility of random document checks by police, U.S. citizens are strongly advised to carry at all times their original passports, Russian visas, hotel registration, and migration cards (issued at the airport upon entry into Russia.)
PUBLIC DEMONSTRATIONS: U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds in areas that lack enhanced security measures. Use caution in any areas where protests, demonstrations, or other public disturbances are taking place. Demonstrations intended to be peaceful can develop quickly and unpredictably, sometimes turning violent.
On January 10, Vice Prime Minister Dmitriy Kozak announced that the Sochi authorities have determined that the village of Khost, located seven miles from the Olympic venues, will be the designated area for political demonstrations during the Winter Olympics. Demonstrations must be unrelated to the Olympics and the organizers must receive permission prior to the event from the regional authorities of the Ministry of Interior and the Federal Security Service (FSB). It is also worth noting that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Charter states “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER (LGBT) ISSUES: In June 2013, Russia’s State Duma passed a law banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. The U.S. government understands that this law applies to both Russian citizens and foreigners in Russia. Russian citizens found guilty of violating the law could face a fine of up to 100,000 rubles ($3,100). Foreign citizens face similar fines, up to 14 days in jail, and deportation. The law makes it a crime to promote LGBT equality in public, but lacks concrete legal definitions for key terms. Russian authorities have indicated a broad interpretation of what constitutes “LGBT propaganda,” and provided vague guidance as to which actions will be interpreted by authorities as “LGBT propaganda.” LGBT travelers should review the State Department’sLGBT Travel Information page.
LODGING: There may be shortages of hotel rooms during the Olympics. Some hotels are still under construction, and there are reports that some rooms booked in advance have not been available upon arrival. Advertised rates for standard rooms are currently $300-1,000 per night.
AMERICAN CITIZENS SERVICES: The U.S. Embassy’s American Citizens Services (ACS) unit will have an office in Sochi during the Olympic and Paralympic Games to provide a range of services to U.S. citizens in need. U.S. citizens who need assistance should contact U.S. Embassy Moscow’s ACS unit during business hours, Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., by phone at +7-495-728-5577 or by email at SochiWarden@state.gov or MoscowWarden@state.gov. If you are a U.S. citizen with an emergency outside of business hours, please call the Embassy’s after-hours ACS hotline at +7-495-728-5000.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Russia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step. STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Regularly monitor the State Department’s website at http://travel.state.gov, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for the Russian Federation. For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website. Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.
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South Pacific Cyclone Season
The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to the South Pacific region about the ongoing threat of tropical cyclones affecting the area.
While tropical cyclones in the South Pacific may occur throughout the year, the current South Pacific Tropical Cyclone Season began on November 1, 2013, and ends April 30, 2014. U.S. citizens living in or traveling to the region should monitor local weather reports and take other appropriate action as needed. This Travel Alert expires on April 30, 2014.
Each tropical cyclone season, the South Pacific region experiences approximately nine tropical cyclones, about half of which reach Category 3 intensity or above, and have the potential to cause severe destruction. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recommends that people living or traveling in regions prone to tropical storms and tropical cyclones be prepared; for further information about tropical cyclone preparedness, please visit NOAA's Tropical Cyclones Preparedness Guide.
Severe tropical cyclones have caused death, injury, and extensive property damage. Many U.S. citizens traveling in the South Pacific region during tropical cyclone season have been forced to delay their return to the United States or other travel because of infrastructure damage to airports and limited flight availability. Roads have been washed out or blocked by debris, impeding access to airports and land routes out of affected areas. In the event of a tropical cyclone, you may not be able to depart an affected area for 24 to 48 hours or more, particularly if you are residing in or visiting a South Pacific Island country where air service is limited.
You also may encounter uncomfortable and sometimes dangerous conditions after storms pass. In many places, tropical cyclones are often accompanied by damaging high tides and flooding. If you are living near or staying close to the ocean or other bodies of water, you may be at higher risk. Landslides and mudslides also are a serious concern during periods of heavy rain. Looting and sporadic violence sometimes occur after natural disasters. Be sure to check with local authorities for safety and security updates. Weather conditions or damage to infrastructure may delay or prevent needed assistance from U.S. embassy and host country security personnel.
If the damage in the aftermath of a storm requires evacuation, the Department of State and our embassies and consulates overseas will work to identify and recommend the safest and most efficient means of travel away from the disaster. Commercial airlines are often the best and least expensive source of transportation in an evacuation. The Department arranges other means of transport, including U.S. military support, only as a last resort when commercial transportation is completely unavailable. The Department of State does not provide free transportation, but it has the authority to provide you a loan to return to the United States if you are in financial need. You should consider obtaining travel insurance to cover unexpected expenses during an emergency, as well as medical insurance with provision for emergency medical evacuations to the United States. In some instances, commercial medical evacuations can cost $100,000 or more and may not be covered by your insurance.
If you are living in or traveling to storm-prone regions overseas, you should prepare by organizing a kit containing a supply of bottled water, non-perishable food items, a battery-powered or hand-crank radio and vital documents, including your passport, and/or birth certificate and other photo identification, in a waterproof container. Emergency shelters often have access to only basic resources and limited medical and food supplies.
Be sure to monitor local media to stay aware of weather developments. For further information on tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, please consult the Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Honoluluand the National Weather Service's Central Pacific Hurricane Center, Fiji's regional meteorological center responsible for tropical cyclone warnings in the South Pacific region, or the Government of Australia's Bureau of Meteorology.
Minor tropical storms can develop into tropical cyclones very quickly, limiting the time available for you to evacuate safely. Tell family and friends in the United States of your whereabouts, and keep in close contact with your tour operator, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions in the event of a weather emergency. Please protect your travel and identity documents against loss or damage, as the need to replace lost documentation could delay or otherwise complicate your return to the United States.
We encourage all U.S. citizens abroad to enroll with the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)or with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. STEP enrollment gives you the latest safety and security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. 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. Travelers can have the latest travel information at their fingertips by downloading our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and Google Play. While consular officers will do their utmost to assist you in a crisis, please be aware that local authorities have primary responsibility for the welfare of people living or traveling in their jurisdictions.
You will find additional information on cyclones and storm preparedness on the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Tropical Storm Season – Know Before You Go website. You can receive updated information on travel in cyclone-prone regions from the Department of State by calling 1-888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada, or from other areas, 1-202-501-4444. If you travel in the region, please check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate that has consular responsibilities for the territory you will be visiting. For further information, please consult the Country Specific Information website for the appropriate country or territory.
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While every care has been taken in preparing this travel information for travelers, neither ineedahotel.com nor its agents or employees including any member of the ineedahotel.com staff, can accept liability for injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained therein.