The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the continued risks of traveling to Cote d'Ivoire and urges them to exercise caution while traveling there. This replaces the Travel Warning for Cote dâIvoire dated September 22, 2009 to update information on the security and political situation, and to advise of the increased probability of political demonstrations and unrest.
Cote d'Ivoire has been a divided country since a 2002 failed coup attempt evolved into an armed rebellion that split the country in two. Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro signed the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) in March 2007, and a new government was formed with Soro as Prime Minister (PM). Implementation of the accord, including federal elections, is ongoing, but long-awaited elections have been postponed repeatedly. No new date for elections has been announced since cancellation of elections in November 2009. The government has not regained full control of the northern part of the country, which remains under the de-facto control of the New Forces.
Since the ruling party's charges of fraud against the President of the Independent Electoral Commission in December 2009, there has been one large anti-government rally and several incidents of localized violence as opposition parties protested lack of due process in removing names from the voter registration list. On February 12, President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the Government of Cote d'Ivoire and disbanded the federal election commission, delegating his Prime Minister, Guillaume Soro, to form a new government. The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan and the Department of State continue to monitor the political situation in Cote d'Ivoire closely, and advise U.S. citizens that there is new potential for spontaneous demonstrations and political unrest that could escalate into violence. U.S. citizens should stay current on media coverage of local events, and be aware of their surroundings at all times. Because of the increased probability of political unrest and potential violence, it is especially important for Americans traveling to or residing in Cote d'Ivoire to exercise extreme caution and defer travel during periods of political tension.
In early February, the Government of Cote d'Ivoire began major rolling power cuts throughout the country, the first in over 15 years, which may add to the current climate of heightened political tension.
The United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) currently operates a peacekeeping mission, and France maintains the Force Licorne in Cote dâIvoire in support of UNOCI.
Given the unpredictable and sometimes tense situation in regions throughout the country, and the ongoing presence of two distinct military/peacekeeping forces, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to exercise caution should they travel to Cote d'Ivoire, and to take special care when traveling outside Abidjan. Security conditions in the north and in the west can deteriorate without warning. Embassy personnel traveling to western Cote dâIvoire are often required to use security escorts provided by the United Nations. U.S. citizens planning travel to Cote d'Ivoire should consult the Embassy or their host organization(s) for the most recent security assessment of the areas where they plan to travel. Crimes such as mugging, robbery, burglary, and carjacking pose high risks for foreign visitors in Abidjan. Visitors should be careful when stopped in heavy traffic or at roadblocks due to the threat of violent robbery, and should avoid travel outside of the city after dark. Land routes to neighboring countries are open, although overland travel to Liberia and Guinea is strongly discouraged, and caution is urged when crossing into Mali, Burkina Faso, and Ghana.
The U.S. Embassy in Abidjan, previously a partially unaccompanied post, allowed minor dependents to return to post as of June 2009 because of the improving situation at that time. However, Embassy personnel and dependents are required to adhere to strict security policies and procedures. Embassy employees are instructed to be cautious when traveling within Abidjan and not to travel outside of the city at night. Private U.S. citizens are urged to follow the same guidelines. Embassy personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling more than 35 kilometers outside Abidjan. Some requests may be denied, or multi-vehicle convoys may be required for security reasons. Because of the potential for violent eruptions and the potential need to shelter in place or leave affected areas, U.S. citizen residents in Cote dâIvoire should maintain several daysâ supply of cooking fuel, food, and water at home, and ensure that their vehicles remain fully fueled at all times.
The U.S. Embassy is located in the Riviera Golf neighborhood of the Cocody section of Abidjan. The Embassy may close to the public temporarily from time to time in response to security developments. U.S. citizens who remain in, or travel to, Cote d'Ivoire despite this Travel Warning should consult the Department of State's latest Country Specific Information for Cote d'Ivoire and the Worldwide Caution. U.S. citizens should register with the Embassy by completing a registration form on-line at https://travelregistration. state.gov/ibrs/ui/, or by calling (225) 22-49-40-00, or faxing (225) 22-49-42-02. U.S. citizens in Cote d'Ivoire who need emergency assistance should contact the Embassy at (225) 22-49-40-00. U.S. citizens may also contact the Consular Section for assistance by writing to AbjAmcit@state.gov.
Current information on safety and security may also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free within the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside of the United States and Canada, by calling 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).