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World Watch Wire

  • Argentina: Carnivorous Fish Attck Tourists - Tourists enjoying a sunny Christmas holiday on the Parana River near Rosario experienced a horrible surprise when a swarm of carnivorous fish attacked 70 swimmers, including a young child who had part of her finger amputated. The palometas fish, a relative of the piranha, sometimes bites swimmers but an event of this magnitude is extremely [...]
  • Honduras: State Department Issues Travel Warning - The U.S. State Department reissued a travel warning for Honduras Dec. 24, citing high levels of crime and violence as grounds for added precautions. The country has had the highest murder rate in the world since 2010, with roughly 81 murders per 100,000 people for January through November 2013. Though U.S. citizens are not specifically [...]
  • Indonesia: Series of Volcanic Eruptions at Mt. Sinabung - Nearly 20,000 people fled their homes in Sumatra as the island’s Mt. Sinabung volcano erupted at least nine times Dec. 30. The volcano shot lava and gas 23,000 feet into the air and a three-mile danger zone has been enforced around the crater. The volcano was dormant for 400 years before erupting in 2010, [...]
  • Russia:More Violence in Volgograd - A fresh surge in violence rocked the nation just a month shy of the winter Olympic games. Two bombings claimed the lives of more than 30 people at a train station and on a trolley bus in the southern city of Volgograd. The December 29 and 30 blasts injured another 60, and 5,000 police were [...]
  • UK: New Law For Medical Visits - In an attempt to discourage abuse of the medical system, the British government has announced plans to require migrants and international tourists to pay for any medical attention received in the country. The new law includes emergency medical services and minor surgeries performed in physicians’ offices. The plan, which will be formally announced in March, [...]
  • China: Xiamen-Shenzhen High Speed Railway launches Dec. 28 - The Xiamen-Shenzhen High Speed Railway launches Dec. 28, giving travelers easier access to lesser-known tourist spots along China’s southern coast, including Shantou and Haifeng. The railway covers just over 300 miles and travels at a speed of nearly 125 miles per hour. The coastal city of Xiamen is expected to see a spike in visitors [...]
  • Egypt: The U.S. Department of State Reissues Travel Alert - The U.S. Department of State issued an updated travel alert for Egypt Dec. 18, just days before a car bomb killed 14 people at a police compound in Mansoura, 80 miles north of Cairo. The Dec. 24 bombing appears to have targeted police, but reports indicated that several civilians were also killed or injured in [...]
  • Russia: CDC Recommends Precautions for Winter Games - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reminding those who plan to attend the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi to be current with vaccines and is recommending the Hepatitis A vaccine for most travelers. Visitors should also be aware that proof of medical insurance that covers treatment in Russia is required to obtain a [...]
  • Thailand: Protestors Continue to Fill Streets in Bangkok - Protests continue in Bangkok, most recently with thousands of demonstrators attempting to block political candidates from registering at a sports stadium. Tens of thousands also marched in the streets Dec. 22 and protests are expected to continue while political candidates register over the next two weeks, moving toward the country’s February 2014 election date. The [...]
  • Turkey: Fresh Protests in Istanbul’s Kadikoy Square - Police fired water cannons, smoke grenades and teargas to break-up crowds of protestors at Istanbul’s Kadikoy Square Dec. 22. What was meant to be an action against the government’s construction and development plans in the city’s threatened green spaces quickly turned into protests over recent corruption and bribery scandals involving government officials and at least [...]

  • US Dept of State Wire
  • Egypt Travel Alert - The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the risks of traveling to Egypt due to continuing political and social unrest.

    This Travel Alert supersedes the Travel Alert issued on February 21, 2014, and will expire on June 18, 2014.  

    Based on an assessment of the security situation in Egypt, the Department of State lifted the ordered departure status for U.S. Embassy personnel on November 6, 2013.  The State Department lifted ordered departure status for U.S. Consulate General Alexandria on December 16, 2013.  However, Consulate General personnel are based out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo while required facility security upgrades are made.

    Political unrest, which intensified after the July 2013 change of government, is likely to continue in the near future. Demonstrations have on numerous occasions resulted in violent clashes between security forces and protesters and between protesters supporting rival factions, some of which have resulted in deaths and injuries to those involved and in property damage.  Participants have generally thrown rocks, and Molotov cocktails, with security forces responding with tear gas.  However, police on occasion have used live ammunition as a crowd control measure and in response to live ammunition used by demonstrators against police.  Most violent protests have occurred in major metropolitan areas, including Cairo and its suburbs, Alexandria, and Port Said.  Gender-based violence in and around protest areas, where women have been the targets of sexual assault, poses an ongoing concern. There has been a recent and notable increase in the use of explosive devices to target police or other government institutions or individuals, which have resulted in casualties and damage to infrastructure.  Additionally, police officers have frequently been the targets of drive-by shootings that endanger bystanders as well.

    The security situation in Sinai, particularly in the north and including the major east-west coastal highway and the towns of El Arish, Shaykh Zuwayd, El Gorah and Rafah, has been marked by ongoing violent attacks on Egyptian security personnel and by continuing, and frequently intense, security operations against the sources of violence.  The Rafah gate from Egypt into Gaza is frequently closed, stranding travelers on both sides of the border. On February 16, 2014 a bomb was detonated on a tourist bus, killing four persons in Taba, a Sinai resort near the Israeli border.  The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to North Sinai and to carefully monitor local security developments and Department guidance when planning travel to anywhere in the Sinai Peninsula or to other major tourist sites on the Red Sea or in the Nile Valley.

    The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations in Egypt, as even peaceful ones can quickly become violent, and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse.  On June 28, 2013, a U.S. citizen was killed during a demonstration in Alexandria.  U.S. citizens have also been arrested and deported for proximity to demonstrations and for taking pictures of demonstrations, police and military.  Foreign journalists, credentialed or not, have also been increasingly targeted by both security forces and Egyptian citizens while attempting to cover demonstrations or gain access to restricted areas.  Several have been detained for prolonged periods as a result of their activities, and others have been subjected to verbal or physical assault by citizens suspicious about the reason for their presence.

    Because of the proximity of the U.S. Embassy to Tahrir Square and other demonstration locations in Cairo, the U.S. Embassy has sometimes been closed to the public on short notice due to violent protests.  The Embassy will notify U.S. citizens as quickly as possible of any closing and the types of emergency consular services that will be available.  Should security forces block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, U.S. citizens should contact the American Citizens Services section before attempting to come to the U.S. Embassy during that time.  U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to carry identification and, if moving about alone, a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Egypt.

    The U.S. Embassy restricts its employees and their family members from traveling to specific areas listed in the Country Specific Information Sheet, and advises all U.S. citizens to do the same.  Depending on the current security situation, the U.S. Embassy may also restrict the movements of its employees and their families within Cairo itself.  We continue to urge U.S. citizens to stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.  Please check our Country Specific Information Sheet for further security guidance. Remain alert to local security developments and be vigilant regarding your personal security; know the locations of police and fire stations, hospitals, and the U.S. Embassy.

    Unless otherwise indicated in a public announcement, the U.S. Embassy is open for all routine American Citizens Services by appointment.  U.S. citizens needing emergency assistance do not need an appointment.  Visit the Embassy website to check the latest changes to Embassy hours or services.  U.S. citizens with routine phone inquiries may call the Embassy's American Citizens Services section at 2797-2301, Sunday to Thursday from 9:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m. For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300.  The U.S. Embassy is closed on U.S. federal holidays.  U.S. citizens in Egypt are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

    For the latest security information, U.S. citizens traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State's Internet website where the Worldwide Caution, Country Specific Information for Egypt, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts can be found.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

    Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

    The U.S. Embassy in Egypt is located at 5 Tawfik Diab Street (formerly known as Latin America Street), Garden City, Cairo.  For emergencies after business hours and on weekends and holidays, U.S. citizens can contact the Embassy Duty Officer via the Embassy switchboard on 2797-3300.

  • Russian Federation Travel Alert - Events in Ukraine - The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the ongoing tensions in Ukraine and the potential for increased public demonstrations and anti-American actions in Russia in connection with Russian actions in the Crimea.

    The Department of State also alerts U.S. citizens in Russia to the heightened military presence and on-going military exercises of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation along the border region with Ukraine.  This Travel Alert expires on June 13, 2014.  The Department of State strongly recommends that all U.S. citizens residing or traveling abroad enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive pertinent safety and security information. 

    The U.S. government currently has no information concerning active military conflict inside Russia as a result of regional tensions or of any threat specific to U.S. citizens.  However, all U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to the border region, specifically the regions bordering Ukraine in Bryansk, Kursk, Belgorod, Voronezh, and Rostov Oblasts and Krasnodar Krai, should be aware of the potential for escalation of tensions, military clashes (either accidental or intentional), or other violence, and the potential for threats to safety and security.  Media accounts note there has been a sizable Russian military build-up in those regions and there are reports of an increased presence of Russian neo-Nazi and radical nationalist and extremist groups in those regions.

    U.S. citizens considering travel to Russia should evaluate their personal security situation in light of current political tensions and the possibility of violence or anti-U.S. actions directed against U.S. citizens or U.S. interests.  

    The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens should avoid all public demonstrations, whether properly authorized by local officials or not, and avoid any large crowds and public gatherings that lack enhanced security measures.  Demonstrations related to the conflict may appear anywhere throughout Russia, at any time.  These demonstrations may increase the possibility of confrontation and violence.  Review your personal security plans, remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news stations for updates.  Maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.  

    We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Russia enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP enrollment allows you to receive the Department’s safety and security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. embassy or U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

    Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution, and read the Country Specific Information for the Russian Federation.  For additional information, refer to the "Traveler's Checklist" on the State Department's website.  Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

    The American Citizen Services Unit of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow assists U.S. citizens in Russia. We can help you with passport issuance and renewal, voter assistance, notarials, and registering a child born abroad. We also provide emergency services for U.S. citizens in case of a disaster or in case of illness, arrest, death or destitution while in Russia. 

    Appointments are required for all non-emergency services; you can make an appointment by calling the ACS unit at 7 (495) 728-5577, or you may click here to schedule an appointment online.  To contact us with questions, please write to moscowwarden@state.gov or visit the Embassy website.

    Emergency Contact Information in Russia:

    U.S. Embassy Moscow:
    U.S. citizens with an emergency during regular office hours (M-F 9am-6pm, excluding Russian and U.S. holidays) are welcome to visit the ACS unit at the U.S. Embassy, 21 Novinsky Blvd., Moscow.
    Tel: (7) (495) 728-5577 - 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, weekdays
    For after-hours emergencies, call (7) (495) 728-5000 after 6:00 pm, and on weekends and holidays.

    U.S. Consulate General St. Petersburg:
    The U.S. Consulate General in St. Petersburg is located at 15 Furshatskaya Street, Tel: (+7) (812) 331-2600.  You may contact the Consulate’s ACS unit by e-mail at StPetersburgACS@State.gov, or by fax at (+7) (812) 331-2646, or visit the Consulate website.
    For after-hours emergencies, call (812) 331-2600 and listen to the recorded message for the Duty Officer’s cell phone number.

    U.S. Consulate General Vladivostok:
    Tel: (+7) (4232) 30-00-70

    U.S. Consulate General Yekaterinburg:
    Tel: (+7) (3432) 793-001

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