Initially, I refused to get interested in the shooting of the black (or African-American) youngster by a policeman in the United States last week or the resulting riots because we had enough going on over here to keep me occupied.
But as the days wore on I noticed hell break loose and saw scenes breaking out that were quite reminiscent of protests and riots in other parts of the world. And I just knew that there would be NO travel advisories warning against travel to the United States of America in light of civil unrest and fears of public safety having broken down.
There were going to be no calls for the United States government or State forces from acting with restraint, or threats of the government facing any action for attacking its own people…
Meanwhile, stories of the Ku Klux Klan getting involved in supporting the white police officer who shot the unarmed black boy, are getting limited air play yet it should be confusing to some of us that this group is even allowed to exist officially like this in the very same United States where some people are so vehemently vocal about Ugandans and the laws and morals that we choose for ourselves.
So as we were saying earlier, which country will be the first to issue a travel advisory against visiting the United States (US) following the civil unrest over there? Will it be an African country?
The official US site that deals with such matters, travel.state.gov, is quite honest about how they issue their advisories, saying:
“We issue a Travel Warning when we want you to consider very carefully whether you should go to a country at all. Examples of reasons for issuing a Travel Warning might include unstable government, civil war, ongoing intense crime or violence, or frequent terrorist attacks. We want you to know the risks of traveling to these places and to strongly consider not going to them at all. Travel Warnings remain in place until the situation changes; some have been in effect for years.”
That does not, we should be clear, include sanctions against countries, but many of the travel warnings and advisories are issued against entire countries even when the incidents that trigger them are isolated to remote parts of the country in question.
Uganda is not listed for any advisory right now (yaaaaay!) so we should not be angry or upset.
But after reading the advisories that ARE listed there, no wonder Americans feel so entitled! Their government is actively monitoring the entire world and giving them tips to keep them from dying sooner than necessary or getting involved in a crime outside of their own borders; perhaps our governments should start doing the same forthwith, along the same vein.
As of today, there were thirty-nine countries on the list of US Travel warnings and advisories and the US was NOT one of them in spite of the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri.
Next door Kenya is on the list: “The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya. U.S. citizens in Kenya, and those considering travel to Kenya, should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing and recently heightened threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime in some areas. Due to the terrorist attack on June 15 in Mpeketoni, in Lamu County…”
So no going to Nairobi or even Kisumu, because of the bombs that went off in Mombasa…
But in order of date of warning, let’s go through the rest, whether you are a US citizen or not:
Lebanon: because of “ongoing safety and security concerns” and “the potential for death or injury in Lebanon exists in particular because of the frequency of terrorist bombing attacks…”
”Although there is no evidence these attacks were directed specifically at U.S. citizens…there is a real possibility of ‘wrong place, wrong time’ harm to U.S. citizens…”
Mexico is luckier: “The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of travelling to certain places in Mexico…” followed by a state-by-state assessment of security conditions in each state of Mexico.
Of course, Mexico is next door to the U.S., so perhaps it’s easier for the State Department to do this assessment; or because there are so many Mexicans in the U.S. it makes more sense for them to be specific rather than warn Americans off the entire country.
Sierra Leone: “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against non-essential travel…after review of health conditions and limited availability of medical evacuation options…”
This is because of Ebola and, quite frankly, I wouldn’t go there even as a Ugandan citizen.
Algeria: “The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Algeria…continuing threat posed by terrorism…and kidnappings.”
Unbelievably, Iraq has a travel warning against it issued in August 10, but then understandably this one replaces the last one that was issued on August 8, 2014…and they probably get one issued every other day: “Travel within Iraq remains dangerous given the security situation…U.S. citizens in Iraq remain at high risk for kidnapping and terrorist violence…”
Surprising? I think not.
Saudi Arabia: What? Yeah, “The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to carefully consider the risks of travelling to Saudi Arabia” apparently because of “an attack by members of Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula on a border checkpoint along the Saudi-Yemeni border on July 4…”
You want to know how far the border point is from the capital of Saudi Arabia or how many other attacks have happened in Saudi Arabia to occasion this?
Don’t bother, as the very next paragraph states that, “The last major terrorist attack against foreign nationals occurred in 2007…”
Pakistan: Of course, “defer all non-essential travel”, followed by narratives that go back to early 2011 (I kid you not).
Nigeria somehow gets a serious warning only about some states: “The Department of State recommends that U.S. citizens avoid all travel to Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states because of the May 14, 2013 state of emergency proclamation for those three states by the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria…”
The next statement makes me laugh: “The security situation in the country remains fluid and unpredictable…”
This is true of everything in Nigeria!
Boko Haram also gets a mention, as one would imagine, as well as “Violent crimes occur throughout the country. U.S. citizen visitors and residents have experienced armed muggings, assaults, burglaries, armed robberies, car-jackings, rapes, kidnappings, and extortion. Home invasions also remain a serious threat, with armed robbers accessing even guarded compounds by scaling perimeter walls, accessing waterfront compounds by boat, following residents or visitors, or subduing guards to gain entry to homes or apartments. Law enforcement authorities usually respond slowly or not at all and provide little or no investigative support to victims…”
It goes on right up to Ebola and I am a little surprised that there is no warning re: “Avoid responding to email messages from Nigerian princes or relatives of deceased senior officials of the Nigerian governments…”
Liberia: “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against non-essential travel to Liberia…” over Ebola, of course.
Cameroon’s warning is worded in dodgy english: “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high risk of travel to Cameroon…”, in short if they are not careful U.S. citizens might find themselves travelling to Cameroon…
The rest of it is kind to the West African country: “…U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Far North region of the country because of “the continuing threat of kidnappings and other armed attacks” since Boko Haram is in operation there. (This is serious, since 21 expatriates have been kidnapped there since 2013 – most recently in May 16, 2014).
Ukraine: Yeah. If you’re not a Russian soldier, what more do you need to know?
Libya: Again – Really? This is unnecessary – it could have been replaced with, “Watch TV.” Yeah. “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Libya and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Libya depart immediately…” (sounds like the withdrawal of forces, but of course there are none in the North African country, right?)
“The security situation in Libya remains unpredictable and unstable. The Libyan government has not been able to adequately build its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution…” <—— see, it’s their fault, that Libyan government!
The other reason to stay away from Libya is in the statement “The newly elected Council of Representatives is scheduled to convene by August 4…” which reads so on August 21, showing how seriously the State Department is taking this Libyan issue…
Russian Federation: This warning does not say that you shouldn’t (you if you are a U.S. citizen) go to the Russian Federation, but is just an alert about tensions along the border with the Ukraine, in case you have not been paying attention these few months past.
Israel, The West Bank and Gaza: Again, let’s not dwell on the obvious. In Luganda, this entire warning would read, “Beera Mu Kilaasi.”
Yemen: “…high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest…”
Chad: “warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Chad and recommends citizens avoid travel to eastern Chad and all border regions.”
Then, leaving other foreigners to suffer, the State Department says, “The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to avoid public gathering spaces and locations frequented by expatriates, including markets, restaurants, bars, and places of worship…”
kwegamba (i.e.) leave those other expatriates to their risky business of shopping, drinking, eating and praying but if you’re from the U.S. stay safe…
Honduras: “…the level of crime and violence in Honduras remains critically high.” since the country has the highest homicide rate in the world of 75.6 per 100,000 people. War doesn’t count, see?
Thailand: “The Department of State reminds U.S. citizens to be alert…”
South Sudan: “The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Republic of South Sudan” because of the armed conflict there, as well as health care being limited and poor, the risk of violent crime, and so on and so forth.
This one is even boring to read – especially if you recall that the U.S. Department of State as recently as June was suggesting, through its African Bureau acting spokesperson Erin Rattazzi, that countries like Uganda should withdraw its troops from conflict resolution activities in South Sudan.
Djibouti is on the list for potential terrorist attacks; Venezuela for violent crimes and demonstrations even though, the advisory states, “Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Venezuela each year for study, tourism, business, and volunteer work…”; Iran, of course, is on the list but for the risk of one being detained on charges of espionage rather than the statement: “These guys really just hate us.”
North Korea also gets listed, surprisingly, rather than just have sanctions slapped against it, because of “arbitrary arrest and long-term detention”:
“North Korean authorities have arrested U.S. citizens who entered the DPRK legally on valid DPRK visas as well as U.S. citizens who accidentally crossed into DPRK territory…”
As if the North Koreans don’t watch all those American movies with spy heroes crossing into other countries. Msssschewwww!
And, the advisory goes on to say, “The Government of North Korea has detained, arrested, and imposed heavy fines on persons who violated DPRK laws…” as opposed to just letting them be in peace.
Read on to laugh a little at this one: “If DPRK authorities permit you to keep your cell phone upon entry into the country, please keep in mind that you have no right to privacy in North Korea…”
After recovering from rolling about laughing your ass off, and finished checking to see whether you have Edward Snowden’s number or twitter handle so you can share this tidbit, continue with, “…and should assume your communications are monitored.”
Syria also gets proper mention and “No part of Syria should be considered safe…” from a long list of things; while Afghanistan presents a security threat of a “critical” level: “No province in Afghanistan should be considered immune from violence and banditry, and the strong possibility exists throughout the country for hostile acts…”
The list goes on to cover the Philippines, Central African Republic, El Salvador, the DRC, Colombia, Sudan, Burundi, Niger, Mali, Somalia, Haiti and Eritrea.
It’s enough to make you want to stay at home, if you’re a U.S. citizen, unless you’re African-American and facing a policeman.
The point, though, is easily summarised as: “If you’re American, avoid death at the hands of foreigners in their own countries…you have enough going on at home…especially if you’re black or African-American.”