March 03, 2010

The U.S. Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Eritrea and recommends that U.S. citizens defer all travel there because of Eritrean government restrictions on travel outside the capital city of Asmara, an increased number of U.S. citizens arrested without clear justification, and heightened tensions along Eritrea’s borders with Ethiopia and Djibouti.  This replaces the Travel Warning dated August 28, 2009.

The Eritrean government continues to restrict the travel of all foreign nationals, including resident diplomats.  These restrictions require all visitors and residents to apply 10 days in advance for permission to travel outside the Asmara city limits.  As a result, the U.S. Embassy cannot provide emergency consular assistance outside of Asmara.

There also have been an increased number of Eritrean-U.S. dual citizens arrested without apparent cause.  Once arrested, detainees may be held for extended periods without being told the purpose of their incarceration.  Conditions are harsh – those incarcerated may be held in very small quarters without access to restrooms, bedding, food or clean water.   The Eritrean government does not inform the U.S. Embassy when U.S. citizens, including those who are not dual nationals, have been arrested or detained.

U.S. citizens are also cautioned to be aware of anti-U.S. sentiment among Eritrean nationals since UN sanctions were imposed on Eritrea in December 2009.  There have been no specific incidents of violence targeting Americans, but anti-UN sanction demonstrations against the United States have occurred.  We remind U.S. citizens that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.  U.S. citizens are therefore urged to avoid demonstrations, and to exercise caution if within proximity of any demonstrations.  U.S. citizens should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.

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.

U.S. 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, Eritrean restrictions on diesel fuel supplies caused the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea’s detachments to withdraw from the Temporary Security Zone, leaving no international observers monitoring the border.  Skirmishes between troops of both countries resulted in fatalities in January and February of  2010.

Since April 2008, Djiboutian and Eritrean troops have been deployed along the Eritrea-Djibouti border.  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.

The consular section of Embassy Asmara is open only for emergency American citizen services.  U.S. citizens currently living or traveling in Eritrea are strongly encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Asmara 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, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of an emergency and provide updates on the security situation.  The U.S. Embassy is located at 179 Alaa Street, P.O. Box 211, Asmara; telephone (291-1) 12-00-04, available 24 hours in case of emergency; fax (291-1) 124-255 and (291-1) 127-584; web site http://asmara.usembassy.gov/.

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.

Current Travel Warnings

Travel Warnings are issued to describe long-term, protracted conditions that make a country dangerous or unstable. A Travel Warning is also issued when the U.S. Government’s ability to assist American citizens is constrained due to the closure of an embassy or consulate or because of a drawdown of its staff. The countries listed below meet those criteria.

Eritrea 03/02/2010
Central African Republic 02/26/2010
Yemen 02/25/2010
Iraq 02/25/2010
Haiti 02/22/2010
Saudi Arabia 02/18/2010
Pakistan 01/07/2010
Sudan 12/31/2009
Somalia 12/31/2009
Mauritania 12/02/2009
Chad 11/23/2009
Mali 11/19/2009
Sri Lanka 11/19/2009
Nepal 11/19/2009
Algeria 11/16/2009
Colombia 11/10/2009
Guinea 10/17/2009
Lebanon 09/29/2009
Cote d’Ivoire 09/22/2009
Philippines 09/17/2009
Congo, Democratic Republic of the 09/01/2009
Israel, the West Bank and Gaza 08/14/2009
Kenya 07/24/2009
Afghanistan 07/23/2009
Burundi 07/22/2009
Nigeria 07/17/2009
Iran 07/01/2009
Uzbekistan 06/16/2009
Georgia 04/09/2009