Thursday, January 30, 2014

Yemen: US Citizens Urged To Defer Travel, Those in Yemen Are Urged to Depart

Effective January 29, 2014, the US Department of State warns US  citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest.  

The Department urges US citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those US citizens currently living in Yemen to depart.    

The Department of State lifted the ordered departure status for non-emergency US Embassy personnel on January 28, 2014. 

The US Embassy in Sana'a remains a restricted staffing post, however, and as staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist US citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services remains limited. 

Embassy staff are restricted in their movements and cannot travel outside of the capital. In addition, movements within Sana’a are severely constrained by and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation. 

The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high. 

In September 2012, a mob attacked the US Embassy compound. Demonstrations continue to take place in various parts of the country and may quickly escalate and turn violent. US citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations, and to exercise extreme caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration.

Terrorist organizations, including al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active throughout Yemen. The US government remains highly concerned about possible attacks on US citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and US facilities, businesses, and perceived US and Western interests. 

A US citizen was attacked and killed in Taiz on March 18, 2012 and the press reported that AQAP claimed responsibility. An ongoing risk of kidnapping exists throughout Yemen. In the last year, international and local media have reported several kidnappings of Westerners. Violent crime is also a growing problem; local media reported the murder of two US citizens in Taiz and Aden in 2013. In addition, piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean is a security threat to maritime activities in the region. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet.

US government-facilitated evacuations occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the US government for travel costs. 

The lack of a valid US passport may hinder US citizens' ability to depart the country and may slow the US Embassy's ability to provide assistance. 

US citizens in Yemen should ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times. For more information, see "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis" on the Department's Internet website. Evacuation options from Yemen are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns. The US government typically evacuates US citizens to a safe haven, and travelers are responsible for making their own onward travel plans. Travelers should not expect to be evacuated to the United States.

US citizens remaining in Yemen despite this Travel Warning should limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, enroll their presence in Yemen through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information. 

If you wish to depart Yemen, you should make plans and depart as soon as possible. The airport is open and commercial flights are operating. There are no current plans for US government-sponsored evacuations. US citizens seeking to depart Yemen are responsible for making their own travel arrangements.

The US Embassy in Sana'a is located at Dhahr Himyar Zone, Sheraton Hotel District, P.O. Box 22347. The telephone number of the Consular Section is (967)(1)755-2000, extension 2153 or 2266. For after-hours emergencies involving US citizens, please call (967)(1)755-2000 (press zero for extension) or (967) 733-213-509. From time to time the Embassy may temporarily close or suspend public services for security reasons. Emergency assistance to US citizens during non-business hours (or when public access is restricted) is available through Embassy duty personnel.

For the latest security information, US citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs website where the current Worldwide CautionTravel Alerts and Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information for Yemen can be found. 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 in other countries, by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available during 0800 hours and 2000 hours EST Monday through Friday (except US federal holidays).

The US Embassy also encourages US citizens to review the Traveler's Checklist which includes valuable security information for those living and traveling abroad. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes or Google Play to have travel information at your fingertips.

For the full text of the updated travel warning, see:

http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/yemen-travel-warning