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Security Message for U.S. Citizens (November 19, 2012)

November 19, 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.  The U.S. Embassy in Sana'a 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 supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on March 27, 2012, to provide updated information regarding the security situation in Yemen.

The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high.  In September 2012, a mob attacked the U.S. Embassy compound.  Demonstrations continue to take place in various parts of the country and may quickly escalate and turn violent.  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, including al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), continue to be active in Yemen.  The U.S. government remains highly concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens (whether visiting or residing in Yemen), and U.S. facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests.  A U.S. citizen was attacked and killed in Taiz on March 18, 2012 and the press reported that AQAP claimed responsibility.  Violent crime also is a growing problem; two U.S. citizens living in Aden were murdered in October 2012.  In addition, piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Indian Ocean is a security threat to maritime activities in the region.  See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet .

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 the Department's 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, be aware of their surroundings whether in their residences or moving about, 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. 

The U.S. Embassy in Sana'a is located at Dhahr Himyar Zone, Sheraton Hotel District, P.O. Box 22347.  The telephone number of the Consular Section is (967) (1) 755-2000, extension 2153 or 2266.  For after-hours emergencies, please call (967) (1) 755-2000 (press zero for extension) or (967) 733-213 509.  From time to time the Embassy may temporarily close or suspend public services for security reasons.  Emergency assistance to U.S. citizens during non-business hours (or when public access is restricted) is available through Embassy duty personnel.

For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs web site, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings, and Country Specific Information can be found.  Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407- 4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers in other countries by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

The U.S. Embassy also encourages U.S. citizens to review "A Safe Trip Abroad," which includes valuable security information for those living and traveling abroad. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.   You can also download our free Smart Traveler App available through iTunes and the Android market to have travel information at your fingertips.