Travel Warning – Cote D'Ivoire

Published by May 8, 2009

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520

December 15, 2008

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The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Cote d’Ivoire and urges U.S. citizens to exercise extreme caution while traveling in Cote d’Ivoire.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Cote d’Ivoire dated June 09, 2008, updates information on the security and political situation, and advises all U.S. citizens to maintain an adequate supply of water, food, and fuel.

Cote d’Ivoire continues to experience periodic episodes of political unrest and violence 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).  Although implementation of the accord is ongoing, the political situation has not fully returned to normal.  In December 2007, Bouake, the largest city under the control of the New Forces, experienced rioting by disaffected rebel soldiers and paramilitary forces, as well as fighting between opposing factions within the rebel movement, amid rumors of another coup attempt.  Travel for the local population was severely restricted during this period, and two employees of the U.S. Embassy were evacuated by United Nations (UN) forces to a safehaven.  Both UN and French peacekeepers remain in the country.

Given the sometimes tense and potentially volatile security situation, the Department of State urges American citizens to exercise extreme caution should they travel to Cote d’Ivoire, and to take special care when traveling outside Abidjan.  In February 2008, Embassy personnel and other international organizations were prevented from traveling to and from western Cote d’Ivoire due to rioting by government soldiers.  Americans planning travel to Cote d’Ivoire despite this Travel Warning should consult the Embassy or their host organization(s) for the most recent security assessment of the areas where they plan to travel.  Increases in food and oil prices could provoke impromptu strikes or demonstrations, as occurred in Abidjan in July 2008.  Crimes such as mugging, robbery, burglary, and carjacking pose the highest risk for foreign visitors in Abidjan.  Visitors should be careful when stopped in heavy traffic or at impromptu 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.

Long-delayed presidential elections scheduled for November 30, 2008 have been postponed and a new date has not yet been set.  Americans traveling to Cote d’Ivoire should follow political developments carefully, as there is potential for violence in the run-up to, and aftermath of, the elections.

The Department of State continues to prohibit minor dependents under the age of 18 from accompanying U.S. government employees assigned to the Embassy in Abidjan.  Embassy employees are asked to be cautious when traveling within Abidjan and to avoid travel outside of the city at night.  Private Americans are urged to follow the same guidelines.  U.S. Embassy personnel must obtain prior approval before traveling more than 35 kilometers outside Abidjan.  Some of those requests may be denied, or multi-vehicle convoys may be required for security reasons.  Americans resident in Cote d’Ivoire should maintain several days’ supply of cooking fuel, food, and water at home, and ensure that their vehicles are 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 at http://www.travel.state.gov/.  Americans should register with the U.S. 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.  Americans in Cote d’Ivoire who need assistance should contact the Embassy at (225) 22-49-40-00.

Current information on safety and security can 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).