Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Washington DC (HOL) - The US Department of State issued a warning to its citizens against travelling to Somalia in an advisory warning that covered land, air, and sea travel.
The travel advisory released on Wednesday cites the presence of Al-Shabaab as the main concern and extends to all parts of Somalia including Somaliland and Puntland.
"The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Somalia because of continuous activity by the al-Qaida affiliated terrorist group, al-Shabaab. U.S. citizens should be aware of the threat of kidnapping in all parts of Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland. "
Although there was a travel advisory in effect since May 2016, this new warning would supersede the previous advisory.
The advisory warns against congregating in large groups in public areas especially airports, hotels, shopping areas and government buildings.
The statement notes to the frequency of which attacks occurred at those hot spots in the last year.
" In 2016, there were 14 documented attacks directed at hotels, restaurants, and the international airport in Mogadishu... They (Al Shabaab) targeted government facilities, foreign delegations' facilities and convoys, and commercial establishments frequented by government officials, foreign nationals, and the Somali diaspora. "
The same statement also reiterated a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ban on all US airlines flying over Somali airspace.
"The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) containing information on the U.S. prohibition against U.S. civil aviation operations in airspace over Somalia."
Finally, the warning advised U.S citizens of sailing along the coast of Somalia to avoid the risk of pirate attack, despite there not being a successful hijacking of a vessel in over two years.
"U.S. citizens should avoid sailing near the coast of Somalia due to the risk of pirate attacks. Merchant vessels, fishing boats, and recreational craft all risk seizure and detention by pirates in the waters off the Horn of Africa, especially in the international waters near Somalia. "
Although the US has an ambassador to Somalia, there is currently no embassy in Mogadishu; which would complicate the issue for a US citizen looking for consular services in they find themselves in peril.