United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
March 02, 2007
This Travel Warning is being updated to inform Americans of heightened security concerns in East Timor and to warn American citizens to defer travel to East Timor at this time. Americans currently in East Timor should evaluate carefully their safety and security in light of this Travel Warning. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on November 1, 2006.
The Department of State advises Americans of heightened security concerns in East Timor in light of the current International Stabilization Force (ISF) operations in and around the town of Same, where forces have surrounded dissident military leader Alfredo Reinado. Americans are advised against travel to Same or adjacent areas, and to exercise caution in the western districts. ISF and UN Police (UNPOL) forces have recommended the evacuation of foreign nationals from Same. In a separate incident, the recent deaths of two Timorese citizens during an ISF intervention in Dili have contributed to the volatile security situation. On February 27, the Government of Indonesia temporarily closed its border with East Timor. The Government of Australia similarly has advised its citizens against travel to East Timor at this time and warns that Australians and Australian interests may be specifically targeted. Attackers could indiscriminately target foreigners, including Americans. The Australian travel advice can be viewed at smarttraveller.gov.au.
After the collapse of civil order in April and May 2006, international troops and police arrived. The security situation improved, but serious security concerns remain:
Indiscriminate communal violence continues throughout the country. Gang-related violence occurs daily in Dili, and Americans risk intentional or inadvertent injury. Stone-throwing attacks on vehicles are frequent and have affected American citizens on several occasions.
Several areas of Dili have become sites of chronic security incidents, particularly the areas around the camps for internally displaced people (IDPs). Americans are advised to avoid these areas and check with the U.S. Embassy regarding other areas of concern.
A rice shortage has caused tensions and increased civil unrest. Americans are advised to avoid crowds and areas near food warehouses.
More public demonstrations are possible in the coming weeks as campaigning for April 9 national elections gets underway.
Sexual assaults against foreign nationals have occurred and may increase in the current environment. Female travelers are advised to exercise particular caution and to avoid travel alone on foot or in taxis, especially at night and in unfamiliar or isolated areas.
Criminals continue to operate illegal checkpoints in some areas of Dili, frequently stopping taxis and minibuses in order to extort money from drivers and passengers; in some cases East Timorese are identified for more violent targeting. American citizens are advised against using taxis or minibuses for transportation.
The international airport in Dili continues to operate normally, but Americans who travel to East Timor despite this Travel Warning should check the status of flights and security in the area prior to commencing travel.
U.S. citizens in East Timor should exercise extreme caution and maintain a high level of security awareness while moving about in Dili; be alert to the potential for violence; and avoid demonstrations, large gatherings, and areas where disturbances have occurred. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence.
Americans in East Timor should immediately register at the Embassy and obtain all recent messages sent to the American community in East Timor. The U.S. Embassy in Dili can be reached at 670 332-4684 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. local time or the duty officer outside business hours at 670-723-0949. The U.S. Embassy is located on Avenida de Portugal in the Pantai Kelapa area. U.S. citizens living in or traveling to East Timor can also register through the State Department’s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov
For the latest security information, Americans living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov/, where Travel Advisories can be found. Travelers should also consult the Department of State’s latest Consular Information Sheet for East Timor. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada. Callers outside of the U.S. and Canada may call 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 on U.S. federal holidays).
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