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Travel Advisory

Riots Break Out in Northern England

July 22, 2001|EDWARD WRIGHT | Edward Wright is a former assistant foreign editor at The Times. His column appears monthly

Race-based rioting has erupted in several northern England cities this summer. Some of the worst occurred in Bradford earlier this month, when mobs of white and South Asian youths fought running battles, torching cars and throwing bricks, bottles and gasoline bombs at police. Similar violence, some of it blamed on agitation by white supremacist groups, has struck Oldham, Burnley, Leeds and Stoke-on-Trent. All five contain sizable Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi populations.

Northern Ireland: After a relatively peaceful start, this year's "marching season," when Protestant groups parade through Catholic areas of the British-ruled province, exploded in some of Northern Ireland's worst rioting in years. The flash point was north Belfast, where Catholic residents battled police with bricks and firebombs on July 12, injuring more than 100 officers and many rioters. The U.S. Consulate General in Belfast suggests that Americans in the province take special care through mid-August, when the marching season ends. For security information, contact the consulate in Belfast, the U.S. Embassy in London or the Royal Ulster Constabulary (the Northern Ireland police).

Caribbean

Jamaica: Soldiers were dispatched to patrol the streets of Kingston, the capital, earlier this month after gun battles between police and politically affiliated gangs left more than 20 dead in a run-down area of the city. Americans "are strongly urged to avoid West Kingston" and to be cautious elsewhere in the capital, said a State Department announcement effective until Oct. 9. The main road from the international airport to Kingston has been blocked by demonstrators at times. Although the violence has not reached the north coast resorts such as Montego Bay and Ocho Rios, Jamaica's tourism minister acknowledged that the trouble was having an adverse effect on tourism. A Jamaican newspaper reported that at least four north coast hotels had received cancellations relating to the violence.

South Pacific

Papua New Guinea: Rioting over economic conditions left four people dead in Port Moresby, the capital, late last month after police opened fire on students protesting the government's austerity measures. The U.S. Peace Corps has begun withdrawing its 24 volunteers because of escalating lawlessness. Port Moresby is scheduled to remain under curfew for most of August. In a notice effective until Oct. 31, the State Department advises Americans to be careful in the capital, avoid public demonstrations and closely monitor news broadcasts. U.S. visitors should register with the U.S. Embassy in Port Moresby.

Latin America

Mexico: A recent World Bank study of Mexico City indicates that crime in the capital is much worse than the government admits and that the police are ineffectual in fighting it. The city has seen a sharp increase in all kinds of crime, including murder, robbery and kidnapping, in the past seven years, according to the report. It found that more than four out of five crimes go unreported because of cynicism about the police.

Central Africa

Uganda: The Ugandan government has reopened the Ruwenzori Mountains National Park to tourists. The park in western Uganda, which includes Africa's third-highest peak, Mt. Stanley, was closed nearly four years ago because of rebel activity. The area has now been purged of rebels, Uganda says. In southwestern Uganda, however, travelers should avoid the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla Park, the State Department advises in an alert effective until Sept. 4. The area has been the scene of attacks by suspected rebels based in Rwanda or Congo.

Rwanda: Because of insurgent activity, travelers are "strongly urged" to avoid the Virunga National Park in northwestern Rwanda, including organized "gorilla tours," the State Department advises, until at least Sept. 18.

Briefly ...

Germany: Because of the large number of protesters expected, violent demonstrations may occur at a U.N. conference on climate change in Bonn that takes place this week. The State Department notes that some routes in the city will be closed and that visitors may experience delays in getting around.

Israel: Nine months of Israeli-Palestinian violence have cut tourism in half, and some of Jerusalem's hotels may have to shut down, the hotel keepers' association reports. About half of the hotels' workers have been laid off, and room rates have been cut by at least 40%. Bethlehem, in the Palestinian sector, is described as "a virtual ghost town."

Yemen: After being closed for nearly a month for security reasons, the U.S. Embassy in Sana has resumed consular services, but it will now serve fewer applicants. A German student kidnapped in Sana in late May was released two weeks later after mediation between the government and his tribal captors.

Morocco: U.S. officials have received an unconfirmed report "that individuals may be planning terrorist activities against U.S. interests in Morocco," according to a State Department notice effective until Aug. 8. Americans in Morocco should register with the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca, where up-to-date security information is available.

Hot Spots: The State Department has dropped the Republic of Congo from its list of places considered risky for Americans. Neighboring Congo, formerly known as Zaire, remains on the travel-warning list.

The others are Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Angola, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burundi, Central African Republic, Colombia, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Territories, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Macedonia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Tajikistan, Yemen and Yugoslavia.

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