Places that warns not to travel right now

Places that warns not to travel right now

In 2024, global tourism is on a positive trajectory to return to pre-pandemic levels, as projected by UN Tourism.

Throughout 2023, international travel patterns were impacted by global conflicts and natural disasters, such as coups in Africa and earthquakes in the Middle East. Despite these challenges, international tourist arrivals in 2023 reached 87% of pre-pandemic levels, according to UN Tourism estimates.

In January 2024, a significant number of U.S. citizens traveled internationally, with 4.6 million leaving the country, marking a 17% increase compared to the same month in 2019, as reported by the International Trade Administration. However, caution is advised when choosing travel destinations.

Following the outbreak of conflict between Israel and Gaza and escalating tensions in the region on Oct. 19, 2023, the U.S. State Department issued a worldwide caution advisory due to increased risks of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and violence against U.S. citizens and interests. This advisory remains in effect, with ongoing updates based on various risk indicators.

The State Department also provides individual travel advisory levels for over 200 countries worldwide, ranging from Level 1 (exercise normal precautions) to Level 4 (do not travel). Currently, 19 countries have a Level 4 advisory, indicating high risks such as crime, civil unrest, kidnapping, and terrorism, with limited U.S. government intervention capabilities in case of emergencies.

So far in 2024, the State Department made changes to the existing Level 4 advisories for Myanmar, Iran and Gaza, and moved Niger and Lebanon off of the Level 4 list.

Afghanistan: The State Department has highlighted the challenges faced by Afghanistan, including terrorism, the risk of wrongful detention, kidnapping, and crime. U.S. citizens are particularly vulnerable to wrongful detention and kidnapping. In 2022, the government reintroduced public floggings and executions, and women’s rights are diminishing under Taliban rule. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul ceased operations in August 2021, leading to the suspension of various forms of international aid since the Taliban takeover. Additionally, Afghanistan experienced devastating earthquakes in 2023, resulting in the loss of over 2,400 lives, while grappling with a prolonged severe drought.

Belarus: The State Department has raised concerns about Belarus due to its involvement in Russia’s war against Ukraine, the presence of Russian military forces in Belarus, the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, the potential for civil unrest, the risk of detention, and the limited ability of the U.S. Embassy to assist American citizens residing in or traveling to Belarus. Consequently, the U.S. Embassy in Minsk suspended its operations in February 2022. Belarus shares borders with Russia to the west and Ukraine to the south.

Burkina Faso: Terrorism, crime, and kidnapping pose significant challenges in this West African nation. Terrorist attacks targeting hotels, restaurants, and schools can occur without warning, particularly in the East and Sahel regions, which are under a state of emergency. In late November 2023, clashes between state security forces and rebels near the border with Mali resulted in the loss of hundreds of lives. Furthermore, violence associated with al-Qaida and the Islamic State group has led to the displacement of over 2 million people in Burkina Faso in June.

Central African Republic: Although there have been no reported incidents of violence or crime targeting U.S. citizens, the prevalence of violent crime and frequent closure of roads and borders are common occurrences. The advisory highlights the limited support that Embassy Bangui can offer to U.S. citizens in light of crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping. Recent data from UNICEF indicates that the country has the lowest drinking water accessibility among all nations in 2022.

Myanmar (Formerly Burma): The main reasons for avoiding travel to this Southeast Asian nation are armed conflict and civil unrest, particularly following a military coup in early 2021. Other risk factors include limited access to healthcare, wrongful detentions, and the presence of land mines and unexploded ordnance in certain areas. After Ukraine and Israel, Myanmar recorded the third highest conflict-related death toll in 2023.

Gaza: The Gaza Strip, which shares borders with Israel and Egypt, is predominantly controlled by Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization as designated by the State Department. On Oct. 7, 2023, Hamas militants launched a bold attack into Israel, resulting in the tragic loss of numerous civilian and military lives, leaving Israelis in a state of shock. Responding to this aggression, Israel carried out intense airstrikes on the Gaza Strip on Oct. 10, which have been described as the most severe in the 75-year conflict between the two sides, as reported by Reuters. This initial clash has since escalated into a full-fledged war between Israel and Hamas, with frequent Israeli airstrikes causing significant civilian casualties in Gaza. According to UN estimates, by mid-December, approximately 85% of Gaza’s population had been displaced from their homes, exacerbating the dire situation. The region continues to grapple with severe shortages of essential resources such as food, water, electricity, and medical supplies, leading to conditions that are far beyond what can be considered a mere humanitarian crisis. The State Department has issued warnings regarding the presence of terrorism and armed conflict within Gaza’s borders.

Haiti: In response to the heightened risk of kidnapping, violent crime, and armed conflict between gangs and police in Haiti, the Department of State took the decision in July 2023 to evacuate all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and their families from the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince. The travel advisory issued by the State Department highlights that cases of kidnapping often involve negotiations for ransom, and unfortunately, U.S. citizens have suffered physical harm during such incidents. Given the current security situation and challenges with infrastructure, the advisory strongly urges U.S. citizens in Haiti to leave the country as soon as possible. In late September 2023, a series of gang attacks prompted thousands of individuals to flee their homes, further exacerbating the situation. The escalating violence has also compelled numerous aid groups to reduce or halt their operations in the country.

Iran: Travelers to Iran face risks of terrorism, kidnapping, and civil unrest, with U.S. citizens being particularly vulnerable to “arbitrary arrest.” U.S.-Iranian nationals, including students, journalists, and business travelers, have been detained on charges of espionage and endangering national security. The number of executions in Iran surged between 2021 and 2022, reaching nearly 580 individuals in a year, as reported by Amnesty International in May 2023.

Iraq: The State Department designates Iraq as a Level 4 risk due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, and civil unrest. The northern borders of Iraq, as well as its border with Syria, are considered highly dangerous. Since the escalation of conflict in neighboring Israel in October, there has been a rise in attacks on Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops and other international forces. In October 2023, non-essential U.S. government personnel and eligible family members were instructed to depart from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Libya: Since the fall of its dictatorship more than a decade ago, Libya has been plagued by internal conflict between armed factions in the East and West. Risk factors in Libya include armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, kidnapping, and terrorism. U.S. citizens have been targeted for abduction for ransom, with terrorists focusing on hotels and airports frequented by Westerners. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli ceased operations in 2014. In mid-September 2023, floods, possibly exacerbated by climate change, claimed thousands of lives in eastern Libya. Armed clashes between factions intensified across the country in the latter part of 2023, including in the capital city of Tripoli and Benghazi.

Mali: Mali continues to face significant security challenges following military coups in recent years. The presence of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping poses serious threats to the population. In response to the heightened risk of terrorist activity, non-emergency U.S. government employees and their families were instructed to depart the country in July 2022. A U.N. report released in August 2023 highlighted the use of violence against women and human rights abuses by military groups, including Mali security forces and potentially Russian Wagner mercenaries. Despite plans for democratic elections in February 2024, the military junta in Mali indefinitely postponed the scheduled elections. Furthermore, the U.N. concluded its peacekeeping mission in Mali in December, marking the end of a decade-long presence that had been one of the deadliest missions for the organization, resulting in the loss of hundreds of personnel since 2013.

Mexico: The travel advisory levels for each state in Mexico are assessed individually, with six states – Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas, and Zacatecas – designated as Level 4 due to security concerns. Crime and kidnapping are identified as major risks across the country. As of October, the U.N. reported nearly 112,000 missing persons in Mexico, a figure described as “alarming.”

North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea): U.S. citizens are not permitted to use their passports for travel to, within, or through North Korea, a nation governed by one of the world’s longest-standing dynastic dictatorships. The travel advisory emphasizes that the Level 4 classification is a result of the ongoing and significant threat of arrest and prolonged imprisonment of U.S. nationals. In July 2023, an American soldier crossed the border into North Korea and is currently believed to be under North Korean custody, marking the first instance of an American being detained in the country in nearly five years. However, he was eventually returned to U.S. custody in September 2023.

Russia: The travel advisory concerning Russia highlights various factors contributing to its Level 4 designation, including the country’s invasion of Ukraine, instances of harassment towards U.S. citizens by Russian government officials, and arbitrary law enforcement. Specifically, regions such as Chechnya and Mount Elbrus are identified as Level 4 areas. The advisory also acknowledges the risks of terrorism, civil unrest, health concerns, kidnapping, and wrongful detention within the country.

Somalia: In 2022, a severe drought caused by five consecutive failed rainy seasons resulted in the loss of 43,000 lives and triggered a famine amidst the ongoing conflict with Islamist insurgents. Somalia faces high levels of violent crime, with piracy being a common occurrence along its coast in the Horn of Africa. The country also has limited medical facilities, further exacerbating the challenges faced by its population. Crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health issues, and kidnapping are all significant risk factors in Somalia. In January 2024, a group of individuals aboard a U.N.-contracted helicopter were taken hostage by al-Shabaab militants following a crash in central Somalia.

South Sudan: South Sudan, which became the world’s newest country after separating from Sudan in 2011, faces primary risk factors such as crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict. The availability of weapons contributes to the volatile situation, and travelers have unfortunately fallen victim to sexual assault and armed robbery.

Sudan: In April 2023, the United States evacuated its embassy in Khartoum due to the ongoing conflict in Sudan. The country also closed its airspace, allowing only humanitarian aid and evacuation efforts. The region has experienced escalated fighting between two warring generals vying for control following a military coup in 2021 that ousted the prime minister. Civil unrest is the primary risk factor in Sudan, Africa’s third-largest country by area. Additionally, crime, terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict pose significant threats. The International Criminal Court initiated investigations into alleged war crimes and violence against African ethnic groups in 2023. The country has witnessed mass displacement, with millions forced to flee their homes due to the conflict. The United Nations has faced challenges in providing aid due to a lack of support, safety, and resources. As recently as December 2023, the United Nations issued a warning about the looming threat of catastrophic famine, particularly endangering millions of children who are at risk of malnutrition.

Syria: The advisory warns that Syria remains unsafe due to various factors such as terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict, and unjust detention. U.S. citizens are particularly at risk of being targeted for kidnappings and detention. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus ceased operations in 2012. The conflict in neighboring Israel has intensified since October, spilling over into Syria. The U.S. has conducted air strikes in response to drone and rocket attacks against American troops in Syria and Iraq, stemming from the Israel-Hamas war.

Ukraine: Russian setbacks in their invasion of Ukraine brought hope to the country in 2023. However, Ukraine is classified as a Level 4 country due to Russia’s invasion, with crime and civil unrest posing additional risks. Ukrainian forces downed two Russian fighter jets on Christmas Eve 2023, a move President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described as setting the right tone for the upcoming year.

Venezuela: This South American nation has been grappling with a political crisis since 2014, leading to numerous human rights abuses and a lack of adequate healthcare. In 2019, the U.S. Embassy in Caracas withdrew its diplomatic personnel due to the prevailing threats in the country, including crime, civil unrest, kidnapping, wrongful detention, and a poorly developed health infrastructure.

Yemen: Yemen faces a multitude of risk factors, with six out of the nine defined by the State Department being present in the country. These include terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, armed conflict, and landmines. Despite private companies offering tourist visits to Socotra Island, the U.S. government strongly advises against such visits, citing the potential danger to tourists. The country is also plagued by a civil war and the spread of cholera. Although there has been a relative decrease in fighting during peace negotiations, recent flare-ups have hindered progress. Notably, the U.S. and U.K. have conducted targeted airstrikes on Iran-backed Houthi sites in Yemen.