Cablegate: Country Clearance Granted to S/Wci Ambassador
DE RUEHNR #0944/01 0581645
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 271645Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7815
UNCLAS NAIROBI 000944
DEPARTMENT FOR S/WCI BRENDAN DOHERTY
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OTRA AMGT ASEC APER KAWC KE
SUBJECT: COUNTRY CLEARANCE GRANTED TO S/WCI AMBASSADOR
CLINT WILLIAMSON AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS OFFICER BRENDAN DOHERTY
REF: STATE 23457
1. Embassy Nairobi grants country clearance and welcomes
S/WCI Ambassador Clint Williamson and Foreign Affairs Officer
Brendan Doherty. Country clearance is granted subject to the
actual security situation at the time of proposed travel.
The embassy switchboard number is 254-20-363-6000 and the
after-hours number is 254-20-363-6170. The control officer is
Melissa Sweeney, work International Voice Gateway (IVG)
telephone number 8-871-6186, cell phone 254 722-200-167.
Hotel accommodation has been arranged at the Intercontinental
Hotel at a cost above perdiem. Therefore we suggest you
request for actual lodging costs. The hotel telephone number
is 254-20-320-0000, and the hotel facsimile number is
254-20-320-0003. An Embassy expediter and the control officer
will meet you upon your arrival.
2. Security assessment:
- There is currently a travel warning in effect for Kenya,
which states that "American Citizens should evaluate their
personal security in light of continuing terrorist threats
and the limited ability of the Kenyan authorities to detect
and deter such acts." The U.S. Government continues to
receive indications of terrorist threats in the region aimed
at American and western interests, including civil aviation,
and that the Kenyan government might not be able to prevent
- Nairobi is designated a critical threat post for
transnational threat and crime by the Department of State.
The RSO is required to brief all TDY visitors staying more
than two weeks are required to attend a security briefing by
the RSO at the regularly scheduled security briefing at 9:00
a.m. on Thursdays. Personnel on official USG business are
required to stay in RSO approved hotels. You may obtain the
list from your sponsoring office.
- Violent crime in Nairobi is sharply rising. Carjacking, in
order to commit an armed robbery, is the most common form of
crime in Nairobi. In virtually every instance, carjackers
use weapons to rob and carjack their victims. Most victims,
if they are completely cooperative, are usually released
unharmed, with their vehicles. However, victims are
sometimes tied up and put in the back seat or trunk of their
own car. Criminals who commit these crimes will not hesitate
to shoot a victim who is the least bit uncooperative, or may
appear to hesitate before complying with their assailant.
The RSO recommends that if confronted with a criminal
incident, victims acquiesce immediately and quietly. Put
your hands where they can be seen and avert your eyes.
Though this does not guarantee your personal safety it is
more likely you will survive the incident.
- Street crime is particularly bad in downtown Nairobi and
Uhuru Park and mission personnel are strongly urged to avoid
the downtown area after dark. Throughout the country reports
of group attacks and muggings are on the rise. Pickpockets
and thieves carry out "snatch and run" crimes on city streets
and near crowds. Large public functions are particularly
vulnerable to rings of organized thieves. Visitors have
found it safer not to carry valuables, but rather to store
them in hotel safety deposit boxes or in room safes. The RSO
recommends leaving all important documents (passports, plane
tickets, etc.) in a hotel safe and not wearing any jewelry on
the street. In addition, visitors should avoid hanging a
camera around their necks, handbags on the backs of chairs,
carrying a protruding wallet, and carrying or showing large
amounts of money in public.
- While traveling in vehicles, doors should be kept locked
and windows rolled up. Highway bandits are active on roads
leading to the border areas and some areas in the
northeastern portion of the country require special RSO
approval prior to travel.
- The Government of Kenya (and the Mission firearms policy)
prohibit the importing and carrying of firearms except for
U.S. law enforcement officers engaged in protective security
or investigative duties.
3. Climate: Weather conditions in Nairobi are sunny and
mild year-round with daily temperatures ranging between 50
and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. In April and May, it rains
frequently and daytime temperatures are lower. From June
through September, dry, but often cloudy weather persists
with cool nights. From October through November there is
occasional rain, but most days are sunny and warm.
4. Health: Due to the high altitude, Nairobi is not a
malarial area and malaria prophylaxis is not needed; but the
risk of malaria outside Nairobi is significant. Therefore,
if you are planning to travel outside Nairobi, particularly
to areas below 3,500 feet elevation, it is advisable to begin
using oral malarial medication before arrival and for four
weeks following departure. In addition, every effort should
be made to use insect repellents, proper clothing, and
barriers which discourage/prevent mosquito bites. Travelers
should also carry immunization records with valid yellow
fever immunization as well as being current with other
inoculations. The embassy medical unit advises that local
tap water is not potable. Bottled water is safe to drink and
can be purchased in local hotels, restaurants and grocery
stores. Individuals with sickle cell trait should carefully
consider the altitude of this post. Short-term (TDY)
assignments carry an added risk because of the lack of time
for acclimatization. Dehydration and stress from exercise or
illness compound the basic risks of high altitude. For more
information about sickle cell trait, contact your health unit
or the medical clearances section of the Office of Medical
5. Internal travel:
- Due to the dangerous driving conditions in Nairobi and in
Kenya in general, post policy prohibits TDY'ers from driving
USG or rental vehicles. Waivers may be granted for
operational reasons if approved by the RSO and the Front
Office. If riding with others or hiring a driver, note that
it is inadvisable to travel at night outside well-traveled
areas due to the lack of lighting, road signs, and warning
signals on broken down vehicles. Many drivers exercise poor
judgment and drive too fast. Traffic accidents are common.
Public ground transportation in Kenya, particularly after
dark, should be avoided for safety and security reasons.
Travel via passenger train in Kenya is considered unsafe by
the RSO, particularly during the rainy seasons. The trains
and tracks lack routine maintenance and safety checks.
- GSO has contracted with Jim Cab Services to provide
additional transportation services for the mission. In the
absence of special arrangements for use of official vehicles,
TDYers and visitors will be expected to use this service for
their transportation requirements. Because TDY
transportation is reimbursed as part of the individual's
travel expenses, TDYers will pay for their transportation
directly to Jim Cab when the services are rendered. Landline
numbers for Jim Cab are 712-2565, 712-1205 or 712-0344; cell
phone numbers are 0722-711001, 0722-714246 or 0733-735499.
Never get into any taxi that has anyone other than the driver
in it as carjackers sometimes use taxis to carjack other
6. Money matters:
- For better exchange rates, it is recommended that money
changing/accommodation exchange be undertaken through our
contracted bank, the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA). CBA
has branches in the US Embassy building and the USAID
building. CBA,s hours of operation are Monday through
Thursday, 9 AM to 12 noon and 1 PM to 3 PM; Friday, 9 AM to
12 noon. For TDYers, CBA will cash up to 500 US dollars per
day and will change cash or traveler,s checks or personal
checks. If you are using personal checks, an exchange
application form must be filled in and approved by the
Financial Management Officer prior to visiting the bank.
Your control officer will provide the form or you may pick up
a copy in the Financial Management Center. Certain ATM
machines in town will accept US ATM and credit cards.
- Credit cards are accepted at major hotels and restaurants,
with VISA and Mastercard being the cards of choice.
- The current rate of exchange is approximately 78 shillings
to the US dollar.
- AEA Morale Store: TDY membership in the American Employees
Association (AEA) is available for five U.S. dollars per week
or one dollar per day. The AEA Morale Store offers a limited
supply of liquor, soda, beer, snacks, Embassy souvenirs, and
Kenyan crafts. All products are sold in U.S. dollars. Cash
and travelers checks are accepted; no personal checks are
- APO Use: TDY personnel wishing to use the APO are required
to present a copy of their TDY/leave orders to the APO
supervisor. Military members must also produce a valid ID
8. Entry requirements: A visa to enter Kenya is mandatory.
This applies to U.S. citizens arriving for any purpose and
regardless of type of passport. Travelers may obtain a visa
in advance at a Kenyan embassy or consulate. Alternatively, a
visa can be obtained at the airport for a voucherable charge
of 50 U.S. dollars, but lines may be long and processing time
slow. Evidence of yellow fever immunization is usually
requested upon entry to Kenya.
9. Departure: Each person departing Kenya (regardless of
age or type of passport) must pay a 20 U.S. dollar departure
tax payable in Kenya shillings or U.S. dollars, unless it has
been included in the price of your ticket. Further, there is
500 Kenya shilling (approximate) departure tax imposed on all