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US Issues Travel Warning For Ivory Coast

The United States has warned its citizens of the risks of travel to Ivory Coast. U.S. citizens who reside in or travel to that African country should monitor conditions carefully, maintain situational awareness, and pay very close attention to their personal security, the State Department said in a Travel Warning on Monday.

While the security situation has improved during the past several months, the potential for some civil unrest remains. Security conditions could change quickly and without warning. U.S. citizens have been informed that the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan has returned to "fully accompanied" status, which means minor dependents of U.S. government employees are now permitted to travel to or accompany family members to Abidjan.

Since the post-electoral crisis ended, schools and businesses have reopened and government services such as police and gendarme activity have nearly returned to pre-crisis levels. The airport and ports have also resumed operations at levels at or near the pre-crisis state. With international support, the government is planning security sector reform, the re-opening of the national assembly, infrastructure and educational upgrades, and other activities to further enhance development prospects in Ivory Coast. The Embassy continues to monitor the host country's capacity for providing basic services to its population, particularly related to safety and security issues. The potential for some civil unrest, however, remains, says the Travel Warning.

Crimes, such as muggings, robbery, burglary, and carjacking, pose risks for foreign visitors in Abidjan and around the country. Embassy personnel are required to obtain approval from the Embassy's security office for proposed travel to the west of the country because of ethnic tension and criminal activity targeting Western travelers. Americans have been advised to avoid travel outside Abidjan after dark. Land routes to neighboring countries are open, but local law enforcement authorities have limited capacity to respond to emergencies.

The Embassy instructed its staff to avoid large gatherings, crowds, demonstrations, and political events. U.S. citizens are reminded that even demonstrations and/or political events can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence. Those who are planning travel to Ivory Coast despite this Travel Warning, particularly to places outside of Abidjan, should consult the Embassy or their host organization for the most recent security assessments of the destinations.

Those who are going to live in or travel to Ivory Coast despite this Travel Warning have been advised to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that they can be kept up-to-date with important safety and security announcements.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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