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Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens

Travel Warning - Kenya

U.S. Embassy, Nairobi, Kenya

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya. U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. The levels of risk vary throughout the country. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi has limited official U.S. government travel to Kenya until the security situation improves. The Embassy will continue to monitor the security situation and provide updates. This replaces the Travel Warning of April 4, 2012, to update information about the current security situation.

The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya. Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports. Although the pursuit of those responsible for previous terrorist activities continues, many of those involved remain at large and still operate in the region. Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.

On September 11, 2011, a British woman was kidnapped and her husband murdered at a coastal resort near the Kenya-Somali border. The British hostage was released on March 21, 2012, after a ransom was paid. On October 1, 2011, a French national was kidnapped from a private residence on the popular tourist destination of Lamu Island on Kenya's north coast. She died while in captivity in Somalia. On October 14, 2011, two Spanish nationals working for an NGO were kidnapped in a Dadaab refugee camp, in northeastern Kenya. They are still being held. On June 29, 2012, four international aid workers (from Canada, Pakistan, Norway and the Philippines) were kidnapped in Dadaab. All were rescued on July 1, 2012. Kenya initiated military action against al-Shabaab by crossing into Somalia on October 16, 2011, and, on June 2, 2012, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) whereby it formally joined the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Kenyan troops within AMISOM are now actively pursuing al-Shabaab in southeastern Somalia. Al-Shabaab has responded to the Kenyan incursion into Somalia by threatening retaliation against civilian targets in Kenya.

In the past year, there have been at least 17 attacks involving grenades or explosive devices in Kenya. At least 48 people died in these attacks, and around 200 people were injured. There were no U.S. citizens among the casualties. Nine of these attacks occurred in North Eastern Province, including locations in Dadaab, Wajir, and Garissa. Four attacks occurred in Nairobi, and four in Mombasa. Targets included police stations and police vehicles, nightclubs and bars, churches, a religious gathering, a downtown building of small shops, and a bus station. The most recent attack involved two simultaneous assaults on churches in Garissa on July 1, 2012. In this attack, 17 people were killed and about 50 people were injured.

As a result of these recent events and threats, U.S. government employees, contractors, grantees, and their dependents are prohibited from traveling to the North Eastern Province, including the cities of El Wak, Wajir, Garissa, Dadaab, Mandera, and Liboi. Although the U.S. government travel restriction for Lamu has been lifted, U.S. citizens should consider ongoing security concerns following recent events involving U.S. citizens in Lamu, including a sexual assault and threatened kidnapping. U.S. government personnel are restricted from traveling to the coastal area north of Pate Island, including Kiwayu and north to Kiunga on the Kenya/Somalia border.

Although these restrictions do not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. government, U.S. citizens already in Kenya should take these restrictions into account when planning travel. The Embassy regularly reviews the security of these areas for possible modification.

Sporadic violence, protests, and clashes occur in and around Isiolo and Moyale, both in Eastern province. While this violence is not directed at foreigners,protests and tribal clashes are unpredictable, and U.S. citizens are advised to check conditions before traveling to these areas.

Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings, grenade attacks, home invasions/ burglaries, and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, most particularly in Nairobi. U.S. citizens have fallen victim to such crimes within the past year. U.S. citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant with regard to their personal security, particularly in crowded public places such as clubs, hotels, resorts, shopping centers, restaurants, bus stations, and places of worship. U.S. citizens should also remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events.

U.S. citizens should use common-sense precautions, such as avoiding crowded bus stops or stations, visiting only legitimate businesses and tourist areas during daylight hours, using well-marked taxis, locking vehicle and lodging doors, carrying small amounts of cash and credit cards, wearing small amounts of jewelry, knowing emergency phone numbers, and being aware of your surroundings. These measures can help ensure your travel to Kenya is safe and enjoyable.

U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and political rallies of all kinds. Most political gatherings are peaceful, but they can turn violent without notice. In the run-up to the constitutional referendum, in June 2010 six Kenyans were killed and 100 injured at a prayer meeting/political rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi. The next Kenyan presidential election is set to take place in March 2013.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Kenya are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi.

The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (+254)(20) 363-6000; fax (+254) (20) 363-6410. In the event of an after-hours emergency, the Embassy duty officer may be contacted at (+254) (20) 363-6000. Travelers may also consult the U.S. Embassy Nairobi website for more information.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information for Kenya, the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, and Travel Alerts, which are all available on the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook, and download our Smart Traveler iPhone App to have travel information at your fingertips.

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