March 27, 2012
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen. U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart. Effective September 1, 2011, the Department of State lifted the Ordered Departure status for U.S. government employees at the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a. The embassy remains a restricted staffing post. As staff levels at the embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency remains limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on September 2, 2011 to provide updated information regarding the security situation in Yemen.
The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high. While political violence in Sana’a has calmed in recent months, violent clashes are still taking place in various parts of the country and may escalate without notice. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration. Terrorist organizations continue to be active in Yemen, including al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). A U.S. citizen was attacked and killed in Taiz on March 18 and the press reports that AQAP has claimed responsibility. The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. Piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean is also a security threat to maritime activities in the region. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet at http://travel.state.gov.
U.S. government-facilitated evacuations occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs. The lack of a valid U.S. passport may hinder U.S. citizens’ ability to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide assistance. U.S. citizens in Yemen should ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times. For more information, see “What the Department of State Can and Can’t Do in a Crisis” at Department’s Internet website. Evacuation options from Yemen are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns. The U.S. government typically evacuates U.S. citizens to a safe haven, and travelers are responsible for making their own onward travel plans. Travelers should not expect to be evacuated to the United States.
U.S. citizens remaining in Yemen despite this Travel Warning should limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, enroll their presence in Yemen through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information.