The United States has warned its citizens against travel to Mali because of the current political instability and an active rebellion and continued threats of attacks and kidnappings of Westerners in the northern region of the country.
In a Travel Warning update issued on Tuesday, the State Department said it had authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel and all eligible family members of U.S. Embassy personnel from the country.
Malian mutineers have refused to return to their barracks, and rival rebel factions are battling each other for control in areas they have seized in the north. The situation in the country remains fluid and unpredictable. The State Department urged U.S. citizens in Mali to consider their own personal security and contingency plans, including the option of temporarily departing Mali.
On April 2, The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) imposed diplomatic, trade, financial, and border closure sanctions on Mali.
Senou International Airport in Bamako is currently open for business; however, the State Department warned that the availability of flights in the future is unpredictable and depends on the overall security situation. U.S. citizens currently living in Mali are advised to temporarily depart the country in light of the current security situation. Persons wishing to depart the country should check with commercial airlines for the airport's operational status and flight and seat availability before traveling to the airport.
The Travel Warning urged U.S. citizens to note that the U.S. Embassy in Bamako has designated northern regions of Mali as "restricted without prior authorization" for purposes of travel by U.S. government employees, contractors, grantees, and their dependents. Prior to traveling to these areas, U.S. government employees in Mali are required to have the written approval of the U.S. Ambassador to Mali. This designation is based on an active Tuareg rebellion, the presence of Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Maghreb (AQIM), as well as banditry in the region.
These restrictions are in effect for the regions of Kidal, Gao, and Timbuktu, where separatist rebels now appear to have control.
by RTT Staff Writer
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