World Travel Watch is a monthly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel. Because conditions can change overnight, always make your own inquiries before you leave home. In the United States, contact your Passport Agency office; abroad, check in with the nearest American embassy. Global Security
With the recent cancellation of its travel advisory on Algeria and renewed full staffing of the consulate in Peshawar, Pakistan, the U.S. Department of State has revised all of its travel notices issued as a result of the war with Iraq. The only advisories remaining in effect are those involving Kuwait and Iraq. Travel to the northern gulf region is not recommended due to the potential health risk of the oil fires in Kuwait, and travelers in Saudi Arabia should not venture into the desert of Kuwait due to the likelihood of unexploded mines in the region.
Ethiopia: Rebels fighting government forces have made substantial gains in recent weeks and are beginning to threaten approach to the capital city of Addis Ababa. The government's fall is possible. As a result, the U.S. Department of State has ordered all nonessential personnel and their dependents out of the country. Avoid travel here at this time.
Kenya: Criminal attacks on tourists continue in game parks and other parts of the country; most are robberies without physical injury, but in some cases victims have lost their lives. Travelers should use reputable guides and safaris should be undertaken with at least two vehicles.
Cameroon: A large demonstration was held recently in the port city of Douala protesting the authoritarian rule of President Paul Biya and government crackdowns on pro-democracy demonstrators in two northern towns. The situation remains tense in Ngaoundere and Garoua, and further unrest is likely.
Niger: Recent political developments have increased the potential for public unrest and consequent risk to travelers. Avoid demonstrations and register with the U.S. Embassy in Niamey upon arrival. Northern desert areas can be unsafe due to continued armed attacks against government posts and armed robberies of travelers.
Sierra Leone: All travel to the region along the Liberian border should be deferred due to banditry and incursions by Liberian rebels. Exercise special caution in the areas east and south of Bo and Kenema, and expect roadblocks and vehicle searches by security forces.
Togo: Political unrest has produced clashes between demonstrators and security forces in the capital city of Lome and in other cities in southern Togo. A curfew was imposed throughout the country. Exercise caution.
France: Hotel accommodations in Paris will be very hard to get between May 30 and June 24, in part due to the Paris Air Show. Be sure to have confirmed reservations before arrival. Deposits are required to hold reservations during this period, and cancellations must be made a week in advance to avoid forfeiting the cost of one night's lodging.
The cholera epidemic that began in Peru has worsened there and has now spread to Colombia, Ecuador, Chile and Brazil. Medical officials worry that it will dig in to stay, becoming the kind of seasonal epidemic that it is in India and Bangladesh.
Costa Rica: The 7.4-magnitude earthquake that struck near the capital city of San Jose April 22 disrupted transportation networks and caused extensive damage in San Jose, Puerto Limon and other areas. Defer travel here at this time.
Guatemala: Violent crime has increased in recent months throughout the country, including Guatemala City, Antigua, Panajachel and Chichicastenango. Several tourist groups have been assaulted while climbing Pacayo Volcano near Guatemala City, and robberies of entire busloads of tourists have occurred en route to major tourist destinations. Travel only with the minimum necessary possessions.
Tibet: May 23 marks the 40th anniversary of China's takeover of Tibet, and the Chinese fear unrest among independence-minded Tibetans in Lhasa. The Chinese police force has been beefed up, and foreigners have been warned to stay off the streets after dark until the anniversary passes.
Myanmar (formerly Burma): There are reports that the military government, which was soundly defeated in national elections last year but never turned over power to the elected government, is conducting a campaign of terror to rival that of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Forced emigration from the cities has placed thousands of people in malaria-infested rural areas, and the military has taken over hundreds of Buddhist temples across the country. Food and fuel is in short supply, even in Rangoon, and the economy is in a perilous state. Group travel is still possible here, but conditions are growing increasingly difficult.
For more information on safety concerns in countries you may be visiting, contact the Citizens Emergency Center, U.S. Department of State, Washington, D.C. 20520, (202) 647-5225.