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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
  • Tunisia Travel Alert - The U.S. Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to the risks of travel to Tunisia and recommends that U.S. citizens in Tunisia maintain a high level of vigilance in light of recent terrorist attacks on sites frequented by tourists.

    The Tunisian government has shown its commitment to addressing security concerns and has visibly augmented its security presence at tourist locations, but challenges remain.  On July 4, President Caid Essebsi declared a 30-day state of emergency that grants security forces more authority to maintain civil order, enabling the government to focus on combating terrorism.  The Minister of Interior stated on July 6 that the state of emergency will assist in securing the hotels and tourist areas.  This Travel Alert expires on August 31, 2015.  

    U.S. citizens should exercise extreme caution in Tunisia when frequenting public venues that are visited by large numbers of foreigners, such as:  hotels, shopping centers, tourist sites, and restaurants.  Two recent attacks targeting tourists killed a number of foreign nationals: March 18, 2015, at the Bardo Museum in Tunis; and June 26, 2015 near Sousse at the Riu Imperial Marhaba and Riu Bellevue Park hotels.  The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for both attacks.  U.S. citizens should also be alert to the possibility of kidnapping.

    Terrorist organizations have also targeted Tunisian security forces and government installations.  The Tunisian government officially designated the group Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia (AAS-T), a group with known anti-U.S. and anti-Western sentiments, as a terrorist organization on August 27, 2013.  The Tunisian government continues security force operations against AAS-T, ISIL, and al Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

    Protests, demonstrations, and civil unrest can occur with little warning throughout the country.  U.S. citizens should avoid large crowds and demonstrations, as even demonstrations that are meant to be peaceful have the potential to become unpredictable.  When the last significant protests took place in Tunisia in the summer of 2013, they were non-violent and not directed against U.S. citizens or foreigners.  U.S. citizens should be aware of anti-U.S. and anti-Western sentiment held by several groups in country.  U.S. citizens should also be alert and aware of their surroundings.  Travelers should monitor local events, report suspicious activity to the local police, and take appropriate steps to bolster personal security.

    Travelers contemplating trips to the interior of the country should assess local conditions and routes when making travel plans.  In particular, all travel south of the designated military zone in the south must be coordinated in advance with Tunisian authorities.  Also, travel to either border should be avoided, if possible, given the periodic security incidents along the border regions, including the Mount Chaambi region near the Algerian border where security operations continue against armed extremists.  The Tunisian National Guard encourages persons traveling into the desert to register their travel beforehand.  For details on how and where to register, please visit the U.S. Embassy’s desert travel page.  No special authorization is required to travel to the desert as far south as Remada.  The desert south of Remada is designated as a military zone by the Government of Tunisia.  If travelers wish to enter the military zone, for example to travel to Borma, a special authorization is required.  Please visit the U.S. Embassy’s desert travel page.

    Tunisia shares borders with Algeria and Libya.  Developments in Libya continue to affect the security situation along the border areas, and the Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya.  Due to tighter security, backups of several hours can occur on the Tunisian side of the border.  The Ras Jedir and Dehiba border crossings with Libya may be closed occasionally, and access to both crossings is strictly controlled by Tunisian security forces.  Travelers should consult local authorities before travelling to the Libyan border, and should read the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Libya, as well as the Department of State’s Country Specific Information and other international travel safety and security information for Libya and Algeria.  Travelers should consult local authorities before travelling to the Algerian border and read the Department of State’s Travel Warning for Algeria.  Some crossings may be closed occasionally and access is strictly controlled by Tunisian and Algerian security forces.

    Government security forces, including the army, police, and National Guard, are visibly present throughout Tunisia.  Under the state of emergency, the Ministry of Interior is granted broad powers and may ban rallies and demonstrations.  The Minister of Interior, as well as local governors, have the prerogative to put any individual under house arrest, if considered a threat to national and public security; and to search houses and conduct other activities without requiring prior judicial authorization.  Security personnel, including plain clothes officials, may at times place foreign visitors under surveillance.  It is against Tunisian law to photograph government offices and other security facilities.  Suspicious incidents or problems should be reported immediately to Tunisian authorities and the U.S. Embassy.  Travelers should remain alert to local security developments and heed directions given by uniformed security officials.  U.S. citizens are urged to always carry a copy of their passport as proof of nationality and identity and, if moving about alone, a cell phone or other means of communication that works in Tunisia.

    The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. Embassy personnel assigned abroad sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under security restrictions which vary by country of assignment.  Embassy Tunis travel regulations require advance notification to Embassy security officials of travel outside greater Tunis.  These measures occasionally prevent the movement of U.S. Embassy officials and the provision of consular services in certain areas of the country.

    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.  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.  Visit the Embassy website to check the latest changes to Embassy hours or services. 

    For further information:

    • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information for Tunisia.
    • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. 
    • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Tunisia located at North East Zone Berges du Lac, North of Tunis 2045 La Goulette, at +216 71 107 000, 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.  After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +216 71 107 000.
    • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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  • Potential Implications for Travel Because of Ebola in Parts of West Africa - The Department of State alerts U.S. citizens to screening procedures, travel restrictions, and reduced aviation transportation options in response to the outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

    This Travel Alert will expire on January 1, 2016.

    Due to an outbreak of EVD in the West African nations of Guinea and Sierra Leone, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued Level 3 Travel Warnings against non-essential travel and urged travelers to practice enhanced precautions for avoidance of contact with ill individuals. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared Liberia to be free from EVD transmission on May 9; however, a small number of additional EVD cases have been identified since June 29. Although CDC is no longer advising against nonessential travel to Liberia, it recommends that all persons practice enhanced precautions when traveling to Liberia. The Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website prominently features an Ebola Fact Sheet and links to the CDC Health Travel Warnings, Travel Alert, and general guidance about Ebola.

    WHO and CDC have also published and provided interim guidance to public health authorities, airlines, and other partners in West Africa for evaluating risk of exposure of persons coming from countries affected by EVD. Travelers should consult the U.S. Department of Homeland Security website for the most up-to-date information regarding enhanced screening procedures at five U.S. airports (Newark, New York JFK, O’Hare, Atlanta, and Dulles) for all people entering the United States from or who have traveled through the Ebola-affected countries. Travelers who exhibit symptoms indicative of possible Ebola infection may be prevented from boarding and restricted from traveling for the 21-day period. Moreover, CDC’s guidelines outline the minimum recommended procedures, and state and local governments have the power to implement more stringent procedures. Please note neither the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs nor the U.S. Embassy have authority over quarantine issues and cannot prevent a U.S. citizen from being quarantined should local health authorities overseas, or in the United States, require it. For questions about quarantine, please visit the CDC website that addresses quarantine and isolation issues.

    Medical evacuation from Ebola-affected countries is very difficult, even for non-Ebola illnesses. The cost for a medical evacuation flight can exceed $150,000. We encourage U.S. citizens travelling to Ebola-affected countries to purchase travel insurance and ensure this insurance includes medical evacuation for EVD. Policy holders should confirm the availability of medical care and evacuation services at their travel destinations prior to travel.

    Some local, regional, and international air carriers have curtailed or temporarily suspended service to or from Ebola-affected countries. U.S. citizens planning travel to or from these countries, in accordance with the CDC Health Travel Warnings and Health Travel Alert, should contact their airline to verify seat availability, confirm departure schedules, inquire about screening procedures, and be aware of other airline options.

    The Department is aware that some countries have put in place procedures relating to the travel of individuals from or who have traveled through the affected countries, including complete travel bans. Changes to existing procedures may occur with little or no notice. Please consult your airline or the embassy of your destination country for additional information.

    • See the State Department's travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information.
    • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency. If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
    • 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).
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