U.S. State Dept. Updates Mali Travel Warning, Jan. 13, 2015

Map of MaliWashington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–January 13, 2015.  The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Mali.  We strongly warn against travel to the northern parts of the country and along the border with Mauritania because of ongoing military operations and threats of attacks and kidnappings targeting westerners.  Mali faces significant security challenges because of the presence in northern Mali of extremists and militant factions.  In October, Mali reported its first cases of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic that is ongoing in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.  This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning for Mali dated December 18, 2014. 

Violent extremist and militant elements, including al Qaeda in the Lands of Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Ansar al-Dine, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad (MUJAO), and extremists tied to newly-formed al-Murabitun, are present in northern Mali, although they have been mostly dislodged from the major population centers of Gao and Timbuktu.

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During the past six months, there has been an increase in attacks targeting the United Nations peacekeepers of the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).  Rocket attacks targeting MINUSMA camps in various northern locations were reported during the year.  In addition, separate violent incidents involving suicide bombings, explosives, and land mines have occurred.  The majority of these incidents resulted in numerous injuries and casualties.

Terrorist groups have stepped up their rhetoric calling for additional attacks or kidnapping attempts on westerners and others, particularly those linked to support for international military intervention.  In recent months, some of these groups have abducted a number of NGO workers.  Affiliates of AQIM have claimed responsibility for the November 2013 abductions and murder of two French journalists outside Kidal. 

While the security situation in Bamako and southern Mali remains relatively stable, the potential for attacks throughout the country remains.  Additionally, there is continued police harassment and violent crime in Bamako, including several armed carjacking incidents, one of which resulted in the death of a French citizen.

Periodic public demonstrations occur throughout Mali.  While most demonstrations are peaceful, a few have become confrontational.  

Following the 2012 unrest, most international organizations have resumed operations and allowed family members and staff to return, but continue to exercise caution and impose varying levels of security restrictions.  The U.S. Embassy is operating normally and is closely monitoring the situation and will update U.S. citizens of any major security changes.  Our Security and Emergency Messages for U.S. Citizens are posted on the Embassy’s website.

The U.S. Embassy reminds U.S. citizens of the potential for terrorist activity throughout Mali.  U.S. citizens are urged to exercise caution, be alert to their surroundings, and to avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gatherings when visiting locations frequented by westerners, in and around Bamako.  U.S. citizens throughout Mali should develop a personal security plan.  We recommend you vary your daily routine, and travel only on main roads to the extent this is possible.  Malian security forces regularly update security safeguards, including checkpoints and other movement control measures, without prior notice.

The Government of Mali may periodically impose curfews and other restrictions as security needs dictate.  U.S. citizens should monitor local news broadcasts regarding these measures.  The U.S. Embassy may also impose temporary curfews or other restrictions on U.S. Embassy employees as needed and, from time to time, close to review its security posture in response to warnings or events.  These actions will be shared with private U.S. citizen community and posted on the Embassy’s website.

U.S. citizens planning travel to Mali, particularly to destinations outside of Bamako, should consult the U.S. Embassy’s website or your host organization for the most recent security assessment of the areas where you plan to travel. 

Senou International Airport in Bamako is open for business and scheduled flights are proceeding normally.  Check with your airline for changes and cancellations before going to the airport.  Travelers departing Mali will experience additional airport screening procedures/ restrictions because of the recent presence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Mali.  You should arrive at the airport at least three hours in advance of your flight and consult relevant authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security website, for the most up-to-date information.

On January 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed the Travel Notice for Mali regarding EVD.  Persons whose travel originated in Mali will no longer be subject to enhanced screening and monitoring when entering the United States, nor will they be required to enter the country through designated airports.  The CDC has also removed the Alert Level 2 Travel Notice for Mali, which advised travelers to practice enhanced precautions when visiting Mali.

Travelers departing Mali will remain subject to outbound screening measures, and anyone traveling from Mali who arrived in the United States before January 6 must continue active monitoring and report any symptoms for 21 days after leaving Mali.  For further information, visit the CDC website.

U.S. citizens in Mali despite this Travel Warning should enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  By enrolling, you will receive security updates, and the Embassy can contact you more easily in case of emergency.

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Mali and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website.  Current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada, or a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution.  Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.

The U.S. Embassy in Bamako is located in ACI 2000 at Rue 243, Porte 297.  The Embassy’s mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali.  The telephone number, including for after-hour emergencies, is 223 2070-2300.  The consular fax number is 223 2070-2340.


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