United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
May 11, 2007
This Travel Warning is being updated to inform Americans of heightened security concerns in Timor-Leste and to warn American citizens to defer travel to Timor-Leste at this time. Americans currently in Timor-Leste should evaluate carefully their safety and security in light of this Travel Warning. This supersedes the Travel Warning issued on March 2, 2007.
The Department of State advises U.S. citizens of the continued heightened security concerns in Timor-Leste and warns them to defer travel to Timor-Leste at this time. Americans currently in Timor-Leste should carefully evaluate their safety and security in light of the unstable situation and potential for violent civil unrest. On February 27, the Government of Indonesia temporarily closed its border with Timor-Leste while the International Stabilization Force (ISF) conducted operations against dissident military leader Alfredo Reinado. The Government of Indonesia, acting in coordination with the Government of Timor-Leste, has intermittently closed the border during the presidential election period and is expected to do so again until the conclusion of the June 30 parliamentary elections. The Government of Australia has advised its citizens against travel to Timor-Leste, 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 often 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.
- More public demonstrations are possible because of Timor-Leste’s 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections.
- 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, Timor-Lesteese 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 Timor-Leste despite this Travel Warning should check the status of flights and security in the area prior to commencing travel.
U.S. citizens in Timor-Leste 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 Timor-Leste should immediately register at the Embassy and obtain all recent messages sent to the American community in Timor-Leste. 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 Timor-Leste 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 the current Worldwide Cautions, Public Announcements, and Travel Warnings can be found. Travelers should also consult the Department of State’s latest Consular Information Sheet for Timor-Leste. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada. Callers outside of the United States 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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