Travel Alert Status
Level 4: Do Not Travel
Safety and Security
Since the United States does not have an Embassy or any other diplomatic presence in any part of Somalia, including Somaliland and Puntland, the U.S. government cannot provide any consular services to U.S. citizens in Somalia. Limited services for U.S. citizens are available for travelers to Somalia at the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Djibouti.
While Somaliland has experienced a level of stability that has not been present in other parts of Somalia, please note that the Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against all travel to Somalia, including the self-proclaimed “Independent Republic of Somaliland” -- see the Department’s Travel Warning for Somalia. Travelers insisting on visiting Somaliland despite this warning should check current conditions in Somaliland before embarking on their journey. Terrorist attacks have occurred against international relief workers, including Westerners, throughout Somalia, including Puntland and Somaliland. In every year since 2008, there have been violent kidnappings and assassinations, including by suicide bombing, of local and foreign staff working for international organizations. Additionally, there have been threats against Westerners in Somalia, including Somaliland. No area in Somalia should be considered immune from violence, and the potential exists throughout the country for hostile acts, either targeted or random, against U.S. and other Western nationals at any time. Despite improved security in Mogadishu, insurgents have conducted 12 high profile attacks in 2013. These attacks have consisted of complex assaults, improvised explosive device (IED) detonations and suicide bombings. Insurgents target various Somali government facilities continuously in Mogadishu.
On September 7, suicide bombers killed nearly 20 people at a restaurant popular with government officials and foreigners.The attempted kidnapping of a visiting Swedish politician and the death of her driver and translator on August 21, 2013 in Mogadishu is an example of the risks travelers face in Mogadishu. Terrorist operatives and armed groups in Somalia have demonstrated the intent to attack UN compounds and other places frequented by foreigners in Mogadishu, including Mogadishu International Airport. Recent terrorist attacks, including a vehicular born improvised explosive device (VBIED) attack at the United Nations Common Compound in Mogadishu on June 19, 2013 and the VBIED attack on the Turkish diplomatic residence in Mogadishu on July 27, 2013, demonstrate that al-Shabaab retains the capability to target Westerners and international aid workers in Mogadishu. Additionally, al-Shabaab controls portions of southern and central Somalia. Persons traveling to Somalia should be aware that incidents such as armed banditry, road assaults, kidnappings for ransom, shootings and grenade attacks on public markets, and detonations of anti-personnel and-vehicle land mines occur in most parts of the country. Al-Shabaab remains engaged in active warfare against the central government and regional administrations, including Puntland and Galmuduug. Also, illegal roadblocks by armed men, sometimes in government uniforms, remain common throughout Somalia and have resulted in serious injury or death.
Cross-border violence occurs periodically. The area near Somalia’s border with Kenya has been the site of numerous violent incidents, ranging from large-scale clashes between al-Shabaab and the central government to kidnappings, and grenade attacks on hostels used by international aid workers. U.S. citizens who decide to visit the area should be aware that they could encounter such incidents.
U.S. citizens considering seaborne travel around Somalia’s coast should exercise extreme caution, given the threat of vessel hijacking and/or piracy off south central Somalia and Puntland. When transiting in and around the Horn of Africa and/or in the Red Sea, it is strongly recommended that vessels convoy and maintain good communications contact at all times. Marine channels 13 and 16 VHF-FM are international call-up and emergency channels and are commonly monitored by ships at sea. The HF international call-up and emergency channel is 2182 MHz. In the Gulf of Aden, transit routes farther offshore reduce, but do not eliminate, the risk of contact with suspected assailants. Wherever possible, travel in trafficked sea-lanes. Avoid loitering in or transiting isolated or remote areas. In the event of an attack, consider activating the “Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRB).” In the Gulf of Aden, vessels may also contact the Yemeni Coast Guard 24-hour Operations Center at (967) 1-562-402. The Operations Center staff speaks English. Due to distances involved, there may be a considerable delay before assistance arrives.
The United States Maritime Administration (MARAD) has advised that elevated regional tensions have increased the risk of maritime attacks being conducted by violent extremists to vessels operating in the Gulf of Oman, North Arabian Sea, Gulf of Aden, and the Bab el Mandeb regions.
MARAD recommends vessels at anchor, operating in restricted maneuvering environments, or at slow speeds should be especially vigilant, and report suspicious activity. U.S. flag vessels that observe suspicious activity in the area are advised to report such suspicious activity or any hostile or potentially hostile action to COMUSNAVCENT battle watch captain at phone number 011-973-1785-3879. All suspicious activities and events are also to be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard National Response Center at the following toll free telephone: 1-800-424-8802, direct telephone 202-267-2675, or TDD 202-267-4477. The complete advisory is available on the MARAD website at www.MARAD.DOT.gov.