Cablegate: Travel Warning - Lebanon
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O 020849Z OCT 09
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO ALL DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR POSTS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHEHNSC/WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
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RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI IMMEDIATE 0028
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INFO RUESBKC/ATO ASIA IMMEDIATE 1955
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 STATE 102613
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC PTER ASEC LE
SUBJECT: TRAVEL WARNING - LEBANON
1. The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens
to avoid all travel to Lebanon due to current safety and
security concerns. Americans living and working in
Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in
remaining and should carefully consider those risks. This
supersedes the Travel Warning issued on May 13, 2009 and
updates information on security threats and special
circumstances in Lebanon.
2. While Lebanon enjoys periods of relative calm, the
potential for a spontaneous upsurge in violence is real.
Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee
protection for citizens or visitors to the country should
violence erupt suddenly. Access to borders and ports can
be interrupted with little or no warning. Public
demonstrations occur frequently. Under such
circumstances, the ability of U.S. government personnel to
reach travelers or provide emergency services may at times
be severely limited.
3. Americans have been the targets of numerous terrorist
attacks in Lebanon in the past, and the threat of anti-
Western terrorist activity continues to exist in Lebanon.
On January 15, 2008, a U.S. Embassy vehicle was targeted
in a bomb attack that killed three Lebanese bystanders.
U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon despite
this Travel Warning should keep a low profile, varying
times and routes for all required travel. Americans
should also pay close attention to their personal security
at locations where Westerners are generally known to
congregate, and should avoid demonstrations and large
4. On May 7, 2008, Hizballah militants blocked the road to
Rafiq Hariri International Airport in Beirut. 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. Full access to the airport was
restored on May 21, 2008, when hostilities subsided.
Access to the airport is considered vulnerable and could
be cut off with little warning in the event of new
5. Rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel
continue to occur, most recently on September 11, 2009.
These attacks frequently provoke a military response from
Israel. The rocket attacks and responses occur with no
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 40 civilians have been killed and more than 300
injured by unexploded ordnance remaining from 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. U.S. citizens traveling or resident in Lebanon despite
this Travel Warning should be aware that the U.S.
Embassy's ability to reach all areas of Lebanon is
limited. The Embassy cannot guarantee that Embassy
employees will be able to render assistance to U.S.
citizens in many areas of the country.
STATE 00102613 002 OF 003
8. In the event that the security climate in the country
worsens, Americans should be aware that they will bear the
responsibility of arranging their own travel out of
Lebanon. Americans with special medical or other needs
should be aware of the risks of remaining given their
condition, and should be prepared to seek treatment in
Lebanon if they cannot arrange for travel out of the
9. U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the
evacuation that took place from Lebanon in 2006, occur
only when no safe commercial alternatives exist.
Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery
basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S.
government for travel costs. The lack of a current U.S.
passport will slow the U.S. Embassy's ability to provide
assistance. U.S. citizens remaining in Lebanon should
therefore ensure that they have proper and current
documentation at all times. U.S. Legal Permanent
Residents should consult with the Department of Homeland
Security before they depart the United States to ensure
they have proper documentation to re-enter. Further
information on the Department's role during emergencies is
10. 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. Because of security concerns, unofficial
travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their
family members is discouraged and strictly limited and
requires prior approval by the Department of State.
11. Americans living or traveling in Lebanon are
encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Beirut
through the State Department's travel registration
Americans are strongly encouraged to update their
registration information if it is no longer current.
12. Travelers arriving at a Lebanese port of entry with an
Israeli stamp in their passport may be detained, arrested
or refused entry. Penalties are particularly harsh for
dual nationals and those of Arab descent. Immigration
officers also will refuse entry to anyone who previously
entered Lebanon illegally. Travelers with questions about
their legal status in Lebanon should contact a Lebanese
embassy or consulate in the United States prior to their
travel to Lebanon.
13. American citizens who come to work in Lebanon should
ensure that their Lebanese employer arranges for proper
documentation to remain in the country; this includes
professional athletes, who should ensure that their
sponsoring club/team arranges for them to receive the
correct visas valid for the duration of their stay.
14. Americans planning to travel between Lebanon and Syria
should consult the Department of State's Country Specific
Information for Syria. Americans planning to travel to
Syria from Lebanon are strongly advised to obtain a Syrian
visa before leaving the United States.
15. The Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias,
Beirut, Lebanon. Public access hours for American
citizens are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to
11:00 a.m.; however, American citizens who require
STATE 00102613 003 OF 003
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.
16. 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 and Friday local time. Inquiries may also be
sent via email to BeirutACS@state.gov.
17. 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
18. Minimize considered.