U.S. State Dept. Updates Mali Travel Warning, May 7, 2015

Map of MaliWashington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–May 7, 2015.   The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Mali. We especially 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. The potential for attacks throughout the country, including in Bamako, remains. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated January 13, 2015. 

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 al-Murabitun are present in northern Mali. While these extremist elements have been mostly dislodged from the major population centers of Gao and Timbuktu, they continue to conduct attacks targeting security forces in and around these locations.

During the past year, 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. 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 increased their rhetoric calling for additional attacks or kidnapping attempts on westerners and others, particularly those linked to support for international military intervention.

While the security situation in Bamako and southern Mali has been relatively stable, on March 7, there was an armed attack on La Terrasse, a nightclub in the Hippodrome area of Bamako, in which a French citizen, a Belgian citizen, and three Malian citizens were killed. The Government of Mali has increased security in the capital, but the potential for additional attacks targeting Westerners in the capital city and throughout the country remains. Police harassment and violent crime in Bamako persist, including several armed carjacking incidents, one of which resulted in the death of a French citizen.

Following the 2012 unrest, most international organizations resumed operations and allowed family members and staff to return, but with renewed focus on exercising caution and putting into place varying levels of security restrictions. While the U.S. Embassy is operating normally, it 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 available 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 avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gatherings when visiting locations frequented by westerners, in and around Bamako. Periodic public demonstrations occur throughout Mali. While most demonstrations are peaceful, a few have become confrontational. 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 particular warnings or events. Such actions will be shared with the private U.S. citizen community through the Embassy’s website.

U.S. citizens planning to travel to Mali despite this Travel Warning, 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.

Citizens should also note that the U.S. government is concerned about the risks to civil aircraft operating into, out of, within, or over Mali due to hazards associated with ongoing fighting involving military forces, militant groups, and the unstable security situation in the country. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has advised U.S. civil aviation to avoid flying below a certain altitude in the airspace over Mali. For further background information regarding FAA flight prohibitions and advisories for U.S. civil aviation, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.

In late 2014, Mali saw its first Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) case. However, there was limited transmission of EVD in Mali, and, on January 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) removed the Travel Notice for Mali regarding EVD. On January 18, the World Health Organization declared Mali EVD-free. 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. For further health information for Travelers to Mali, visit the CDC website.

Travelers departing Mali via Senou International Airport in Bamako should, however, be aware that the Government of Mali continues to conduct outbound airport screening procedures because of the recent presence of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Mali. Travelers should consider arriving at the airport at least three hours in advance of their flight and consult relevant authorities, including the Department of Homeland Security, for the most up-to-date information. Travelers are encouraged to check with their airline for any changes and cancellations prior to travelling to the airport.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside 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.

Source: state.gov