6th December, 2010
The United States has warned its citizens against travelling to the troubled WestÂ African country of Cote dâ€™ Ivoire.
A statement by the US Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid anyÂ travel to Cote dâ€™Ivoire at this time. Airport, land and maritime borders were closedÂ amid rising tension in the aftermath of the second round of Presidential elections.Â Â U.S. citizens currently in Cote dâ€™Ivoire are advised to limit their movements andÂ exercise extreme caution.Â This replaces the Travel Warning for Cote dâ€™Ivoire datedÂ December 3, 2010, to advise U.S. citizens against travel to Cote dâ€™Ivoire.
Cote dâ€™Ivoire has been a divided country since a 2002 failed coup attempt evolvedÂ into an armed rebellion that split the country in two. Ivorian President LaurentÂ Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro signed the Ouagadougou PoliticalÂ Agreement (OPA) in March 2007, and a new government was formed with Soro as PrimeÂ Minister (PM).
On November 28, Cote dâ€™Ivoire held round two of its Presidential election. DuringÂ the elections, the government implemented and enforced a curfew. Several people wereÂ killed in election-related violence and tensions are currently high. DemonstrationsÂ are very likely, and the possibility that these can turn violent cannot be ruledÂ out.
U.S. citizens should stay current on media coverage of local events, and be aware ofÂ their surroundings at all times. Because of the increased probability of politicalÂ unrest and potential violence, it is especially important for U.S. citizens residingÂ in Cote dâ€™Ivoire to maintain situational awareness and limit their movements. TheÂ United Nations Operation in Cote dâ€™Ivoire (UNOCI) currently operates a peacekeepingÂ mission, and France maintains the Force Licorne in Cote dâ€™Ivoire in support ofÂ UNOCI.
Security conditions within the country, and particularly in the north and in theÂ west, can deteriorate quickly and without warning. Embassy personnel traveling toÂ western Cote dâ€™Ivoire are often required to use security escorts provided by theÂ United Nations. U.S. citizens planning travel to Cote dâ€™Ivoire should consult theÂ Embassy or their host organization(s) for the most recent security assessment of theÂ areas where they plan to travel. Crimes such as mugging, robbery, burglary, andÂ carjacking pose high risks for foreign visitors in Abidjan. Visitors should beÂ careful when stopped in heavy traffic or at roadblocks due to the threat of violentÂ robbery, and should avoid travel outside of the city after dark. When land routes toÂ neighboring countries are open, overland travel to Liberia and Guinea is stronglyÂ discouraged, and caution is urged when crossing into Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.
The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan, previously a partially unaccompanied post, allowedÂ minor dependents to return to post as of June 2009 because of the improvingÂ situation at that time. However, Embassy personnel and dependents are required toÂ adhere to strict security policies and procedures. Embassy employees are instructedÂ to be cautious when traveling within Abidjan and not to travel outside of the cityÂ at night. Private U.S. citizens are urged to follow the same guidelines. EmbassyÂ personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling more than 35 kilometersÂ outside Abidjan. Some requests may be denied, or multi-vehicle convoys may beÂ required for security reasons. Because of the potential for violent eruptions andÂ the potential need to shelter in place or leave affected areas, U.S. citizenÂ residents in Cote dâ€™Ivoire should maintain several daysâ€™ supply of cooking fuel,Â food, and water at home, and ensure that their vehicles remain fully fueled at allÂ times.