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State Department Issues Travel Warning for Ethiopia

State Department Issues Travel Warning for Ethiopia

PHOTO: In Gondar, the castle complex of Emperor Fasilidas, who reigned in Ethiopia from 1632 to 1667. (photo by David Cogswell)

The U.S. State Department has issued an updated travel warning for Ethiopia, alerting U.S. citizens to the risks posed by civil unrest and arbitrary detention.

The Ethiopian government extended a state of emergency in March and unrest continues to be reported in the East African nation, including in popular cities like Gondar and Bahir Dar.

Located in northern Ethiopia, Gondar is an ancient historical city that’s home to a slew of castles while Bahir Dar is the capital city of Ethiopia’s Amhara region located on the south shore of Lake Tana. Popular attractions here include medieval monasteries and the nearby Blue Nile Falls.

The State Department warns that the Government of Ethiopia restricts or shuts downs Internet, cellular data and phone services on a regular basis, making it difficult for the U.S. Embassy to remain in communication with American citizens.

What’s more, the government does not inform the embassy of detentions or arrests of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia.

Tuesday’s warning urges travelers to steer clear of demonstrations and large gatherings and to keep aware of their surroundings and safety level.

“Remember that the [Ethiopian] government may use force and live fire in response to demonstrations and that even gatherings intended to be peaceful can be met with a violent response or turn violent without warning,” the warning states.

If travelers must visit Ethiopia the U.S. government encourages them to have contingency and alternate communication plans in place ahead of time.

“The Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to register your mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, in addition to enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).”

Although travelers often confuse travel alerts and warnings or mistake them for the same thing, William Cocks, a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, reminds Americans that they are very different.

“We issue travel warnings when we want U.S. citizens to consider very carefully whether they should go to a country at all because of a chronic threat,” Cocks told USA Today last year.

Tuesday’s updated warning comes just months after Ethiopia was named one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to visit in 2017. New airline routes and a concentrated effort to lure more North American travelers of late have helped to propel the country’s tourism industry.

Travel Pulse

Posted by on June 13, 2017. Filed under Human Rights & The Press. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.