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Cablegate: Travel Warning - Somalia

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O 142311Z NOV 08
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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 121419

SIPDIS

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

1. The State Department warns U.S. citizens of the
risks of travel to Somalia and recommends that
American citizens avoid all travel to Somalia.
This replaces the Travel Warning dated October 24,
2008 to note terrorist attacks in the regions of
Somaliland and Puntland.

2. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens
against all travel to Somalia, including northern
Somalia. On October 29, 2008, terrorists launched
several coordinated and near-simultaneous
attacks involving multiple car bombs against local
and international targets in the regions of
Somaliland and Puntland. There is no U.S. Embassy
or other U.S. diplomatic presence in Somalia.
Consequently, the U.S. Government is not in a
position to assist or effectively provide services
to U.S. citizens in Somalia.

3. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in
Somalia have demonstrated their intent and
capability to attack air operations at Mogadishu
International Airport. Kidnapping, murder,
illegal roadblocks, banditry, and other violent
incidents and threats to U.S. citizens and other
foreigners can occur in many regions. Inter-clan
and inter-factional fighting flares up with little
or no warning. Unpredictable armed conflicts
among rival militias are prevalent in southern
Somalia, particularly in and around Mogadishu.
This has resulted in the deaths of hundreds of
Somali nationals and the displacement of nearly
one million people. In December 2006, Ethiopian
military forces entered Somalia in support of the
Somali Transitional Federal Government. The
continuing Ethiopian military presence and support
for the Transitional Federal Government has
heightened tensions among rival political and clan
factions within Somalia.

4. The Sanaag and Sool Regions in eastern
Somaliland, bordering on Puntland (northeastern
Somalia), are subject to insecurity due to ongoing
border disputes and inter-clan fighting. There
also have been several fatal attacks and violent
kidnappings against international relief workers,
including Westerners, throughout Somalia,
Somaliland, and Puntland. Lines of control in
Mogadishu are unclear and frequently shift, making
movement within Mogadishu extremely hazardous.
Violent riots have recently occurred in Mogadishu,
as thousands of civilians protested rising food
prices and the devaluation of the Somali currency.

5. Recently, insurgents and extremist elements
opposed to the Somali government conducted hit-
and-run attacks on several towns in central and
southern Somalia, to include the districts of Gedo
and Bay (especially the vicinity of Baidoa) in the
south.

6. U.S. citizens also are urged to use extreme
caution when sailing near the coast of Somalia.
Merchant vessels, fishing boats, and recreational
craft all risk seizure by pirates and having their
crews held for ransom in the waters off the Horn
of Africa, most especially in the international
waters near Somalia. There have been numerous
such incidents, highlighting the continuing danger
of maritime travel near the Horn of Africa. If
transit around the Horn of Africa is necessary, it

STATE 00121419 002 OF 002


is strongly recommended that vessels travel in
convoys, and maintain good communications contact
at all times.

7. U.S. citizens who travel to Somalia despite
this Travel Warning are urged to register through
the State Department's travel registration
website, https://travelregistration.state.gov and
obtain updated information on travel and security
from the U.S. Embassies in neighboring countries.
Travelers to the self-declared "Republic of
Somaliland" should register with the U.S. Embassy
in Djibouti, and travelers to Puntland or southern
Somalia should register with the U.S. Embassy in
Nairobi.

8. The U.S. Embassy in Djibouti is located at
Plateau du Serpent, Boulevard Marechal Joffre,
Djibouti City; telephone (253) 35-39-95; after-
hours telephone number (253) 35-13-43. The
mailing address is Ambassade Americaine, B.P. 185,
Djibouti, Republique de Djibouti, and their
workweek is Sunday through Thursday. The U.S.
Embassy in Nairobi is located on United Nations
Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone
(254)(20) 363-6000; after-hours emergencies
(254)(20) 363-6170. The mailing address is P.O.
Box 606 Village Market 00621, Nairobi, Kenya.

9. U.S. citizens should also consult the
Department of State's Country Specific Information
for Somalia and the Worldwide Caution, which are
located on the Department's internet website at
http://travel.state.gov. Travelers may obtain up-
to-date information on security conditions by
calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or
outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line
at 1-202-501-4444.

10. Minimize considered.
RICE

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