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Cablegate: Travel Warning - Eritrea

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UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 STATE 121425

SIPDIS

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

1. The State Department warns U.S. citizens of
the risks of travel to Eritrea and recommends that
U.S. citizens defer travel at this time. This
replaces the Travel Warning dated June 11, 2008,
and informs U.S. citizens that the consular
section of the U.S. Embassy in Asmara is currently
closed for all public non-emergency services. The
Consular Section will continue to provide
emergency services to U.S. citizens.

2. Since September 13, the Government of Eritrea
has repeatedly, and in violation of the Vienna
Convention on Diplomatic Relations, interfered
with the unfettered delivery of the U.S. Embassy's
diplomatic pouches. As a result, the Embassy is
unable to receive critical supplies and materials
necessary, including U.S. passports and other
citizenship-related documents, for the conduct of
normal operations. Until this matter is resolved,
the consular section of the U.S. Embassy has no
choice but to suspend all non-emergency services.
This closure affects all routine services to
American citizens, such as Consular Reports of
Birth Abroad, passport services, and notarial
services. American citizens who need routine consular
services should consider traveling to the U.S. Embassy
in Djibouti or the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia.

3. The Department of State recommends U.S.
citizens defer travel to Eritrea due to
restrictions on travel outside the capital city of
Asmara and heightened tensions along Eritrea's
borders with Ethiopia and Djibouti.

4. American citizens considering travel within
Eritrea should be aware of the presence of large
numbers of Eritrean and Ethiopian troops along the
Eritrean-Ethiopian border, and acute political
tensions between the two countries. In March
2008, the Eritrean restrictions on diesel fuel
supplies caused United Nations' Mission in
Ethiopia and Eritrea's detachments to withdraw
from the Temporary Security Zone, leaving no
international observers monitoring the border.

5. Since April 2008, Djiboutian and Eritrean
troops have been deployed along the northeastern
border of Djibouti. The Djiboutian government
claims Eritrean troops have crossed into its
territory and on June 10, 2008, Djiboutian and
Eritrean troops exchanged fire along their shared
border.

6. U.S. citizens are strongly advised to avoid
travel near the Eritrean-Ethiopian border and to
the Southern Red Sea region, including the port of
Assab.

7. The Eritrean government continues to restrict
the travel of all foreign nationals, including
resident diplomats. These restrictions require
all visitors and residents to apply ten days in
advance for permission to travel outside Asmara
city limits. As a result, the U.S. Embassy cannot
provide emergency consular assistance outside of
Asmara. The government of Eritrea does not inform
the U.S. Embassy when American citizens have been
arrested or detained.

8. Americans currently living or traveling in

STATE 00121425 002 OF 002


Eritrea are strongly encouraged to register with
the U.S. Embassy in Asmara in person or through
the State Department's travel registration web
site, https://travelregistration.state.gov, and to
obtain updated information on travel and security
within Eritrea. By registering, American citizens
make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in
case of an emergency and provide updates on the
security situations. The U.S. Embassy is located
at 179 Alaa Street, P.O. Box 211, Asmara;
telephone (291-1) 12-00-04; fax (291-1) 124-255
and (291-1) 127-584; web site
http://asmara.usembassy.gov/.

9. For additional information, consult the
Department of State's Country Specific Information
sheet for Eritrea and the Worldwide Caution at
http://travel.state.gov. American citizens may
also obtain up-to-date information on security
conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in
the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444
from overseas.

10. Minimize Considered.
RICE

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