Iran. Travel warning updated: June 15, 2009
As election protests continue in Tehran, tourists are advised now more than ever to avoid travel to Iran.
There have been violent clashes at demonstrations with some deaths, reports the U.S. state department. International and internal communications have been disrupted including text messaging, mobile telephone coverage and the Internet.
Westerners have, in the past, been the target of kidnapping by criminal gangs in southeast Iran.
The U.S. government does not have an embassy in Tehran and therefore cannot offer support for American citizens.
The Iranian Government doesn't recognize dual citizenship for those holding Iranian and American citizenships. U.S. citizens of Iranian origin have been detained and harassed by Iranian authorities, according to worldtravelguide.net. Former Muslims who have converted to other religions, as well as persons who encourage Muslims to convert, are subject to arrest and prosecution.
Some elements of the Iranian regime and the population remain hostile to the United States.
American citizens may be subject to harassment or arrest while traveling in Iran, according to the state department. In addition to this travel warning the other 10 countries that the U.S. state department has most recently put on travel warnings follows:
Uzbekistan. Travel warning updated: June 16, 2009
Uzbekistan has been in a state of relative instability since the fall of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. The Uzbek government has been accused of alienating its Muslim population, according to globalsecurity.org
"As a result, many analysts have partly attributed the rise of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) to this alienation....Terrorist groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, Al-Qaeda, the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Eastern Turkistan Islamic Movement are active in the region," according to the U.S. state department Web site.
The site reports that the U.S. government continues to receive information that indicates terrorist groups may be planning attacks in Uzbekistan. "Members of these groups have expressed anti-U.S. sentiments and have attacked U.S. government interests in the past, including the U.S. embassy in Tashkent, and may attempt to target U.S. government or private American interests in Uzbekistan," according to the state department Web site.
"In the past, these groups have conducted kidnappings, assassinations, and suicide bombings. High security at official U.S. facilities may lead terrorists and their sympathizers to seek softer targets. These may include facilities where Americans and other foreigners congregate or visit, such as residential areas, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, hotels, outdoor recreation events, and resorts."
Iraq. Travel warning updated: June 12, 2009
"Attacks against military and civilian targets throughout Iraq continue, including in the International or 'Green' Zone. Methods of attack have included roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), mortars and rockets, and human- and vehicle-borne IEDs. Kidnappings still occur; the most recent confirmed kidnapping of an American citizen reported to the U.S. embassy occurred during July 2008 in Nassariya. In addition to terrorist and criminal attacks, sectarian violence occurs often," according to the state department Web site.
Pakistan. Travel warning updated: June 12, 2009
According to the U.S. state department, Pakistani militants have vowed to increase attacks against both civilians and government targets in Pakistan's cities. Military forces are currently fighting extremists across areas of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and parts of the Northwest Frontier Province, including the Swat Valley.
The presence of Al-Qaeda, Taliban, and other militant groups poses a threat to American citizens throughout Pakistan, especially in the western border regions of the country, according to the state department Web site.
Terrorist groups continue to seek opportunities to attack locations where Americans and Westerners are known to congregate or visit, such as shopping areas, hotels, clubs and restaurants, places of worship, schools, or outdoor recreation events.
"On November 12, 2008, an American government contractor and his driver in Peshawar were shot and killed in their car. In September 2008, over 50 people, including three Americans, were killed and hundreds were injured when a suicide bomber set off a truck filled with explosives outside a major international hotel in Islamabad. In August 2008, gunmen stopped and shot at the vehicle of an American diplomat in Peshawar. In March 2008, a restaurant frequented by Westerners in Islamabad was bombed, killing one patron and seriously injuring several others, including four American diplomats," said the state department Web site.
Mali. Travel warning updated: June 02, 2009
The U.S. state department warns people not to travel to the north of Mali due to kidnapping threats against Westerners.
"Al-Qaeda in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has declared its intention to attack Western targets. AQIM uses northern Mali as a safe haven and platform from which to conduct operations," said the state department's Web site.
"AQIM kidnapped two Canadian diplomats in Niger in December 2008 and four European tourists along the Mali-Niger border in January 2009. All were believed to be held in northern Mali; the Canadians and two of the Europeans were released in April 2009. The U.S. Embassy's ability to assist American citizens in northern Mali is severely limited."
Chad. Travel warning updated: June 2, 2009
Banditry, current political tensions between Chad and Sudan, and clashes between the government and rebel armies keep Chad on the list of most dangerous places to travel.
Chad achieved independence from France in 1960. Since then it has been relatively unstable with tensions arising from religious conflicts between the mostly Muslim north and Christian south of the country, according to worldtravelguide.net.
"Armed rebel groups are active in the region. Rebel activity tends to increase during the dry season, which lasts from late September to July. Government troops pushed back rebel groups entering Chad from Sudan on May 7, 2009 and subsequently attacked rebel positions inside Sudan, which exacerbated tensions between Chad and Sudan. Chadian rebels continue to operate out of Sudan.
The security situation remains fluid and potentially dangerous. The government of Chad is unable to guarantee the safety of visitors in most parts of the country," said the state department's Web site.
Nepal. Travel warning updated: May 22, 2009
Political violence remains a problem in Nepal. The Young Communist League (YCL), a Maoist Party subgroup, continues to engage in extortion, abuse, and threats of violence, particularly in rural areas. Youth groups have formed from the other two main political parties, the Nepali Congress (NC) and the United Marxist-Leninist Party (UML), and clashes continue among these political rivals. Violent actions along the southern border with India remain a significant concern, according to the state department's website.
Protests, demonstrations and disruptions are frequent. The May 4, 2009 resignation of the prime minister and the resulting government have created an environment of decreased political stability and the potential for demonstrations to be called without advance notice.
Demonstrations can become violent with protestors damaging vehicles, throwing rocks, and burning tires to block traffic.
There has also been an increase in the number of fraudulent schemes perpetrated against tourists. These schemes involve requesting the tourist's assistance in establishing business contacts with the United States or other countries, involving jewelry, antiquities, or carpets, according to the state department's Web site.
Lebanon. Travel warning updated: May 13, 2009
While Lebanon enjoys periods of relative calm, the potential for a spontaneous upsurge in violence is great. Lebanese government authorities are not able to guarantee protection for citizens or visitors to the country should violence erupt, said the state department Web site.
"Clashes in the northern city of Tripoli in 2008 resulted in more than 20 fatalities and numerous injuries. Additionally, a bomb exploded next to a city bus in Tripoli on August 13, 2008, killing 14 people. On May 7, 2008, Hezballah 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 Hezballah and other opposition members proceeded to enter areas of Lebanon not traditionally under their control, resulting in heavy fighting and a number of casualties."
Yemen April 24, 2009
Extremist groups have given the U.S. government cause to worry about attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities and businesses in Yemen. On June 12, 2009, nine people were taken hostage by terrorist groups in Yemen including a German family of five, two German students, a South Korean nurse and a British engineer, reported Reuters. Since then both students and the nurse have been killed. According to Reuters, officials believe that either al-Qaeda or al-Houthi, an anti-government rebel group, is behind the abduction.
On March 18, 2009, a South Korean motorcade was attacked by a suicide bomber near Sana'a International Airport. On March 15, 2009, four South Korean tourists were killed in a suicide bomb attack in the city of Shibam in southern Hadramout province. On September 17, 2008, armed terrorists attacked the U.S. embassy in Sana'a, Yemen. A number of explosions occurred in the vicinity of the Embassy's main gate. Several Yemeni security personnel and one embassy security guard were killed, as were a few individuals waiting to gain entry to the embassy, one of whom was a U.S. citizen. On January 17, 2008, suspected al-Qa'ida operatives ambushed a tourist convoy in the eastern Hadramout Governorate, killing two Belgians, according to the state department's Web site.
Georgia. Travel warning updated: April 09, 2009
American citizens are urged not to travel to the regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia where secessionist groups carry out violent attacks, according to worldtravelguide.net. The potential for gunfire exists, as well as an increased risk of crime, and ongoing violence in these and areas adjacent to these regions.
Unexploded landmines continue to pose risks in the areas where fighting took place in August 2008, including around the city of Gori in the direction of the administrative boundary with South Ossetia. Travel in some parts of western Georgia remains unpredictable. Demonstrations can occur without notice and even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence, according to the state department's Web site.
Sudan. Travel warning updated: April 08, 2009
American citizens should defer all travel to Sudan due to uncertain security conditions and the possibility of violence and harassment targeting westerners, said the state department Web site.
Recent protests have featured sharp anti-western rhetoric. There is a continuing possibility that ongoing protests may encourage violent action against Europeans and Americans.
Westerners have been victims of kidnappings, carjackings and armed robberies while traveling in Sudan. There have also been several incidents of hostage taking of European NGO workers and Chinese oil workers over the last year, as well as a hijacking of a domestic airline flight, according to the state department.
In March 2009, the government of Sudan expelled numerous aid groups from the country, calling humanitarian aid workers "spies." Officials from the Sudan Humanitarian Affairs Commission seized the finances and assets of many of these organizations, as well as personal property of aid workers including passports and laptop computers, reported the state department.
On January 1, 2008, two American Embassy employees were assassinated while traveling in their vehicle in Khartoum. In May 2008, the city of Omdurman, adjacent to Khartoum, was attacked by armed militias, said the state department.
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Sudan, particularly in the Darfur area, where violence between Sudanese government forces and various armed militias continues.