Saturday, May 5, 2012

Algeria: US Department of State Issues Updated Travel Warning

Effective May 4, 2012, the US Department of State issued the following updated travel warning for its citizens traveling in or resident in Algeria:

The US Department of State warns its citizens of the risks of travel to Algeria. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Algeria dated September 19, 2011 to update information on the current security situation in Algeria, the continuing threat posed by terrorism, and to reiterate information on security incidents and recommendations on security awareness.

The Department of State urges its citizens who travel to Algeria to evaluate carefully the risks posed to their personal safety. Terrorist attacks, including bombings, false roadblocks, kidnappings, and ambushes occur regularly, particularly in rural areas such as the Kabylie region of the country. 

The use of suicide bomb attacks, particularly vehicle-borne attacks, emerged as a terrorist tactic in Algeria, including in the capital, beginning in 2007. The group that claimed credit for the December 11, 2007 suicide car-bomb attacks in Algiers has pledged more attacks against foreign targets and specifically against US targets. The same group is believed to operate in southern Algeria and to be linked to the kidnapping in February 2011 of a western tourist in the southeast, near the Nigerian border. This regional kidnapping threat was noted in the Department of State’s Worldwide Caution dated January 24, 2012.

The Department of State recommends that US citizens AVOID overland travel in Algeria. 

US citizens who reside in or travel to Algeria should take personal security measures to include stocking adequate reserves of medicine, food, and water for use during an emergency. Additionally, sporadic episodes of civil unrest have been known to occur, such as the riots in Algiers and many other cities from January 2011 to the present. US citizens should avoid large crowds and maintain security awareness at all times. Visitors to Algeria are advised to stay only in hotels where adequate security is provided. All visitors to Algeria should remain alert, avoid predictable travel patterns and maintain a low profile.

The US government considers the potential threat to US Embassy personnel assigned to Algiers sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under significant security restrictions. These practices limit, and may occasionally prevent, the movement of US Embassy officials and the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country. The Government of Algeria requires US Embassy personnel to seek permission to travel to the Casbah within Algiers or outside the province of Algiers and to have a security escort. Travel to the military zone established around the Hassi Messaoud oil center requires Government of Algeria authorization. Daily movement of Embassy personnel in parts of Algiers is limited, and prudent security practices are required at all times. Travel by Embassy personnel within certain areas of the city requires prior coordination with the US Embassy's Regional Security Office. 

US citizen visitors are encouraged to contact the Embassy's Consular Section for the most recent safety and security information concerning travel in the city of Algiers.

The next Algerian parliamentary elections will be held on May 10, 2012. US citizens should avoid demonstrations and political rallies of all kinds. Most political gatherings are peaceful, but they can turn violent without notice.