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Travel Warning: Niger

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Consular Affairs issued a Travel Warning for Niger on April 6, 2012.  It reads as follows:

Niger

April 06, 2012

The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Niger, and urges extreme caution due to increased kidnapping threats against Westerners. This replaces the Travel Warning for Niger dated August 5, 2011 to update information on security concerns.

Al-Qaida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a terrorist group, continues its attempts to kidnap Westerners in Niger, including U.S. citizens, and has been successful in kidnapping Europeans in the region. On January 7, 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped in the capital city of Niamey. They were found dead less than 24 hours later following a rescue attempt by French and Nigerien military forces. In September 2010, seven people, including five French citizens, a Togolese national, and a Malagasy citizen, were kidnapped by AQIM from the northern mining town of Arlit. Four French citizens are still being held hostage by AQIM. In April 2010, a French citizen and his Algerian driver were kidnapped. The Algerian was freed. AQIM claimed to have killed the French citizen in retaliation for the July attempted rescue operation conducted by Mauritanian and French military forces. In November 2009, heavily armed individuals attempted to kidnap U.S. Embassy officials in Tahoua. Although there have been no kidnappings in Niger since January 2011, the Department of State Worldwide Caution dated January 24, 2012, reminds U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness when traveling in the region.

Because of the security threat, the U.S. Embassy in Niamey continues to restrict the travel of U.S. government employees and official visitors in the areas north of Niamey. The U.S. Embassy also continues to evaluate proposed travel and official and personal activities for employees, on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with Nigerien security authorities. Recently, the possibility of violence related to extremist and criminal groups filtering up from northern Nigeria has led the Nigerien government to recommend armed escorts for travel in far eastern Niger.

As a result of safety and security concerns, some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs, and private aid organizations, have temporarily suspended operations in Niger or withdrawn some family members and/or staff.

Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. government policy not to make concessions to kidnappers.

The U.S. Embassy in Niamey strongly encourages U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Niger despite this Travel Warning to enroll in Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP) so you can receive the most up-to-date security information. Please keep all of your information in STEP current. It is important when enrolling or updating information to include multiple phone numbers and email addresses to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency.

U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Niger and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. If you don’t have internet access, 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, for callers from other countries, 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 in Niamey is located on Rue des Ambassades. The Embassy’s telephone number is (227) 20-72-26-61. You can contact the Embassy after-hours for emergencies at telephone: (227) 20-72-31-41. Click here to visit the Embassy website.

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Written by OSB

07/04/2012 at 01:44

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