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Cablegate: Travel Warning - Lebanon

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O 301758Z MAY 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHFSI/DIR FSINFATC
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
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RUCPDOC/ALL USDOC DISTDIR COLLECTIVE WASHINGTON DC
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RHMFIUU/NRC WASHINGTON DC//INFOSEC//
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RUCPCIM/CIM NTDB WASHINGTON DC
RHMCSUU/COGARD INTELCOORDCEN WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI IMMEDIATE 0760
INFO RUESBKC/ATO ASIA IMMEDIATE 1671

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 058123

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC PTER ASEC LE
SUBJECT: TRAVEL WARNING - LEBANON

1. This Travel Warning updates information on security
threats and ongoing political violence in Lebanon and
informs U.S. citizens of current safety and security
concerns. The Department of State continues to urge that
Americans avoid all travel to Lebanon. Americans who live
and work in Lebanon presently should understand that they
are accepting risks in remaining and should carefully
consider those risks. This supersedes the Travel Warning
for Lebanon issued on May 19, 2008.

2. On May 7, 2008, Hizballah militants blocked the road to
Rafiq Hariri International Airport. The action rendered
the airport inaccessible and travelers were unable to enter
or leave the country via commercial air carriers. Armed
Hizballah and other opposition members proceeded to enter
areas of Lebanon not traditionally under their control
resulting in heavy fighting and a number of casualties.
While there is now full access to the airport and
widespread hostilities have subsided, the United States is
concerned about Hizballah's willingness to use violence to
achieve political ends with little or no warning.

3. The threat of anti-Western terrorist activity exists in
Lebanon; groups such as Al-Qaeda and Jund al-Sham are
present in the country and have issued statements calling
for attacks against Western interests in the past.

4. U.S. citizens traveling to Lebanon or resident in
Lebanon should be aware that the U.S. Embassy has limited
ability to reach all areas of Lebanon. The Embassy cannot
guarantee that Embassy employees can render assistance to
U.S. citizens in all areas of the country. Furthermore, in
the event that the security climate in the country worsens,
American citizens should be aware that they will bear the
responsibility of arranging their own travel out of
Lebanon. American citizens with special medical or other
needs should be aware of the risks of remaining given their
condition and be prepared to be treated in Lebanon if they
cannot arrange for travel out of the country.

5. U.S. Government-facilitated evacuations such as took
place in 2006 occur only when no safe commercial
alternatives exist. Evacuation would be provided on a
cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must
reimburse the U.S. government for the cost of the travel.
The lack of valid travel documents (U.S. passport or U.S.
visa, as appropriate) will slow the U.S. Embassy's ability
to provide assistance. Further information on the
department's role during emergencies is provided at
http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/tips/emerg encies/emergen
cies_1212.html

6. Landmines and unexploded ordnance continually pose
significant dangers throughout southern Lebanon,
particularly south of the Litani River, as well as in areas
of the country where civil war fighting was intense. More
than a dozen civilians have been killed and over 100
injured by unexploded ordnance following the armed conflict
in July-August 2006. Travelers should watch for posted
landmine warnings and strictly avoid all areas where
landmines and unexploded ordnance may be present.

7. The Department of State considers the threat to U.S.
government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to
require them to live and work under strict security
restrictions. These practices limit, and may occasionally
prevent, access by U.S. Embassy officials to certain areas
of the country. Unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S.
government employees and their family members requires
prior approval by the Department of State.


STATE 00058123 002 OF 002


8. The Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias, Beirut,
Lebanon. Public access hours for American citizens are
Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; however,
American citizens who require emergency services outside of
these hours may contact the embassy by telephone at any
time. The telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600, 543-600,
and fax 544-209.

9. American citizens may register with the embassy online
by visiting https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs.
Americans are strongly encouraged to update their
registration information if it is no longer current.
Information on consular services and registration can also
be found at http://lebanon.usembassy.gov or by phone at the
above telephone numbers between 2:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.,
Monday through Friday local time.

10. Updated information on travel and security in Lebanon
may be obtained from the Department of State by calling 1-
888-407-4747 within the United States and Canada or, from
overseas, 1-202-501-4444. Additional details can be found
in the Department of State's Country Specific Information
for Lebanon, and the Worldwide Caution, which are available
on the Department's Internet website at
http://travel.state.gov.

11. Minimize considered.
RICE

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