World Travel Watch is a monthly report designed to help you make informed judgments about travel throughout the world. Because conditions can change overnight, always make your own inquiries before you leave home. In the United States, contact the nearest passport agency office; abroad, check in with the nearest American embassy .
Liberia: Civil war continues unabated in this troubled country. In recent days, rebel forces have taken major portions of the capital city of Monrovia, while beleaguered President Samuel Doe has been in hiding in a seaside mansion. Loyalist forces are reported to have massacred hundreds of civilians in retaliation, and a loyalist counterattack in the downtown area and the embassy district of Mamba Point has driven back the rebels in heavy fighting.
Doe is on the verge of defeat in the seven-month-old civil war, and it is uncertain how violent the aftermath will be. For civilians, the situation in Monrovia is grim--they have been virtually without food, water or electricity for the last month.
No travel should be undertaken to Liberia at this time.
Kenya: Long a bastion of stability in Africa, the country is experiencing upheaval. While most of the problems have occurred in the Nairobi area, the potential for trouble exists elsewhere. Consider Zimbabwe, Botswana or Tanzania as alternatives for game-viewing.
Mali: Non-essential travel to the Gao (seventh) region, particularly east from Gao to the Niger border, should be postponed because of violence directed against security forces.
Niger: Exercise caution when traveling to the Tchin-Tabaradene district north of Tahoua and west of the city of Tchin-Tabaradene due to armed dissidents.
Senegal: Exercise caution when traveling in areas bordering Mauritania and Guinea-Bissau, particularly in the area from Dagana to Bakel. There have been shooting incidents along the frontier. All air and land routes between Senegal and Mauritania have been closed due to soured diplomatic relations. It is no longer possible to get a Mauritanian visa in Senegal. Unstable conditions also exist in southern Senegal (Casamance). Contact the U.S. Embassy in Dakar if you plan on traveling to any of these areas.
Zaire: Students demonstrating for a multiparty system have clashed recently with security forces in Kinshasa and other cities. Tensions are increasing. Avoid large gatherings. Register with the U.S. Embassy on arrival.
Zambia: Unrest has increased in Lusaka, with vigilantes patrolling the streets. Defer non-essential travel at this time.
China: Hotel rooms and transport in and out of Beijing may be difficult to arrange while the city hosts the 11th Asian Games from mid-September to mid-October. Be sure to have confirmed reservations before arrival.
India: Due to continuing unrest, travel to troubled Jammu and Kashmir state should be avoided. In addition, travelers should avoid flying on Indian Airlines’ flights that originate in or are destined for Srinigar because of threats against these flights believed to be from militant groups.
Exercise caution if visiting the suburban Calcutta areas of Purulia and Tiljalaa, which have been the sites of recent public violence. Several foreigners visiting the Ananda Marg organization facilities have been detained. Contact the American Consulate General in Calcutta for current information.
Pakistan: Ethnic violence in Karachi has become so entrenched that some fear the city could become another Beirut. Follow local newspapers for current conditions and be aware that the situation can change rapidly.
Due to the unsettled political climate in Afghanistan, security in the Afghan refugee camps near Peshawar has deteriorated, with increased threats of violence against foreign aid workers. Police protection is also limited in the smuggler’s bazaar in the Hayattabad district of Peshawar. Be especially cautious if contemplating a visit there.
Sri Lanka: Travel to the north and east is to be avoided because of ongoing civil strife, but the central and southern parts of the country, including western beaches and the hill tea country, are generally stable. Terrorist activity is unpredictable, however, so exercise caution, particularly in remote areas such as Yala National Park, which is open to visitors.
There have been outbreaks of Japanese encephalitis and dengue fever in some areas, including Colombo. Make sure immunizations are up to date, and try to avoid mosquitoes. Register with the U.S. Embassy on arrival.
Poland: Visitors no longer need to exchange a specified amount of money daily.
CENTRAL AMERICA and CARIBBEAN
Nicaragua: Recent strikes that paralyzed the country confirm that the Sandinistas, voted out of power earlier this year, retain substantial power as an opposition party. Such disruptions could occur at any time, and could affect travel.
Trinidad and Tobago: An attempted coup in this two-island nation has created chaos and disrupted travel. The six-day coup attempt, which began July 27, resulted in Muslim militants taking the prime minister and more than three-dozen other persons hostage in two separate buildings. The government maintained control of the airport, but no international flights were allowed to arrive or leave.
Anyone contemplating travel to Trinidad and Tobago should wait until the situation stabilizes, but Caribbean tourism authorities have emphasized that the problem is a local one and should not affect travel to other countries in the region.
Brazil: Crime in Rio de Janeiro continues to climb, and statistics show that crime targeting foreigners is highest in the Copacabana and adjacent Leme neighborhoods. Avoid nightclubs and bars in these areas.
Ecuador: The northeastern jungle region should be avoided due to incursions of Colombian guerrillas, which have included the well-publicized kidnaping of an American in April. Travel to standard tourist destinations (Galapagos Islands, Quito, Cuenca, Otavalo and Ibarra; resorts in the eastern jungle, such as Flotel Orellana and La Selva; hotels in the Misahualli area, and the beach resorts of Salinas, Esmeraldas, Atacames and Manta) continues without problems.
Peru: The recent inauguration of new President Alberto Fujimori has created optimism, but the country faces severe social and economic problems. Street crime remains high both in urban and rural areas.
Travelers visiting the historic Andean city of Cusco should exercise caution when touring the archeological sites outside the city and should not wander from the main roads. Purse-snatchers and pickpockets target tourists in Cusco. Due to increasing robberies in the vicinity of the train station, travelers should not walk there from their hotels in the early morning hours.
Micronesia: A cholera outbreak has been confirmed in the Chuuk/Truk State. Travelers to Chuuk/Truk State should avoid eating shellfish and raw fish and should avoid swimming or snorkeling in shallow waters near populated areas. Drink only bottled or otherwise purified water and wash hands regularly, especially before meals.
Philippines: The mountain resort of Baguio, a popular tourist destination, was devastated by July’s earthquake, and should be avoided until the city has recovered and roads are repaired. Manila is completely functional.
Vietnam: The Bush administration’s policy change on Cambodia, marked by recent announcements that it would cease aiding the rebel coalition fighting the Vietnam-supported government and would enter talks with Vietnam about resolving the conflict, could lead to a normalization of relations between the United States and Vietnam. Such a move would undoubtedly lift travel restrictions, making it easier for Americans to visit Vietnam and making it possible for American companies to operate tours there.
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 .