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U.S. State Department Reveals List of 19 Countries Americans Should Not Travel To

Richard Perry/The New York Times
Richard Perry/The New York Times

A new report by the United States State Department released Thursday revealed 19 countries that aren't deemed safe for American citizens to travel to based on civil unrest, military conflict, and kidnappings.

Venezuela: The first country that the Department cautioned against traveling was Venezuela because of its "crime, civil unrest, kidnapping, and the arbitrary enforcement of local laws" along with "unlawful arrests, terrorism, and lack of healthcare." Many Venezuelan migrants have fled to America, seeking asylum from the Maduro regime and its chaos.

Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya: In the Middle East, countries like Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Syria, and Libya were hit with "Do Not Travel" warnings, given that terrorism, kidnappings, armed conflicts, and civil unrest often target Americans. In Iraq, "terrorist and insurgent groups regularly attack Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. militias threaten U.S. citizens and international companies throughout Iraq," said the State Department.

In Yemen, the Department warned that terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnappings, armed conflicts, and landmines" are reasons Americans should not travel. The officials note that the U.S. government cannot help American citizens in emergencies since the suspension of operations at the U.S. Embassy in Sana in 2015.

Following the death of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya continues to descend into a country with crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict. "Crime levels in Libya remain high, including the threat of kidnapping for ransom. Westerners and U.S. citizens have been targets of these crimes," the Department explained. "Militia or armed groups sometimes detain travelers for arbitrary reasons, do not grant detainees access to a lawyer or a legal process, and do not allow detainees to inform others of their status."

Additionally, some Middle Eastern countries like Syria and the Islamic Republic of Iran have regimes that engage in unlawful arrests and kidnapping of Americans in addition to their sponsor of terrorism. According to officials, protests and demonstrations are "quelled by government forces through aggressive tactics, and protestors, activists, and political dissenters are routinely detained without access to legal representation or communications with friends and family."

Afghanistan: American citizens should not travel to Afghanistan because of the ongoing armed conflict and the Taliban government, which took over the nation after the Biden administration unilaterally withdrew from Kabul. "The U.S. Embassy in Kabul suspended operations on August 31, 2021. Since that time, U.S. citizens have been unjustly detained," said a Department official.

Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic: African countries like Sudan, Somalia, South Sudan, Central African Republic were also placed on the list by the Biden administration because of rapid crime, civil unrest, kidnappings, and the limited capacity of American embassies to provide support for its citizens. Sudan has been gripped with demonstrations over the deal signed between the country's pro-democracy group and ruling military generals, who seized power two years ago. State Dept. officials note that crime and unrest are "more frequent outside Khartoum."

The same is true in South Sudan, with armed conflict and different political and ethnic groups engaging in carjackings, shootings, ambushes, assaults, robberies, and kidnappings. "Foreign nationals have been the victims of rape, sexual assault, armed robberies, and other violent crimes," according to the State Dept.

According to officials, in the Central African Republic, while there have been no "specific incidents of violence or threats targeting U.S. citizens, civil unrest, demonstrations, and election-related violence (including renewed outbreaks of armed conflict) may occur throughout the country, including the capital of Bangui." In Somalia, kidnappings and murders are common throughout "Puntland and the Somaliland region," with illegal roadblocks being widespread.

Haiti: The State Dept. warned Americans not to travel to the island of Haiti, warning of the "kidnapping, crime, and civil unrest" in the country." In many kidnapping cases, ransom negotiations have occurred, and "U.S. citizen victims have been physically harmed," according to the State Dept.

North Korea: North Korea was also considered a place for Americans not to travel, given the "serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals," said the State Dept. According to the department, "all U.S. passports are invalid for travel to, in, or through the DPRK unless specially validated for such travel under the authority of the Secretary of State."

Russia, Belarus, Ukraine: With the ongoing war between Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine, the State Dept. warned Americans not to travel to any of the countries, given the "military attacks, crime, and civil unrest." Both Belarus and Russia are two countries that have allied against the West since the invasion of Ukraine began last year. "Due to Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine from Belarus, U.S. citizens located in or considering travel to Belarus should be aware that the situation is unpredictable and there is heightened tension in the region," the Department warned.

Burma: The State Dept. cited protests and civil unrest as reasons not to travel to Burma, adding that one U.S. national had been wrongfully detained by the country's military. "Do not travel to Burma due to civil unrest and armed conflict," the State Department said. "Exercise increased caution due to wrongful detentions and areas with landmines and unexploded ordnance."

Mali: Mali is another country to not visit given that rampant violent crime is a "particular concern during local holidays and seasonal events in Bamako, its suburbs, and Mali's southern regions." The country contains roadblocks and random police checkpoints that are common at night.

Burkina Faso: In Burkina Faso, "terrorist groups continue plotting attacks,” the agency said. The American government is unable to provide emergency assistance to its citizens in the country. "Kidnapping and hostage-taking is a threat throughout the country. On May 10, 2019, a hostage rescue operation freed four international hostages kidnapped in Burkina Faso and neighboring Benin," said the State Department.

Related Story: State Department Advises Americans Not to Travel to Parts of Mexico Due to Increased Risk of Kidnappings, Crime

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