It’s a good idea to keep yourself informed about which countries are safe to travel to, and which ones are not. Fortunately, all you have to do is visit your federal government’s website. In the United States, the Department of State is responsible for issuing travel advisories. It has four types:

Level 1: Blue – Exercise Normal Precautions

Level 2: Yellow – Exercise Increased Caution

Level 3: Orange – Reconsider Travel

Level 4 : Red – Do Not Travel

Such warnings are issued for a variety of reasons, from political instability to the presence of infectious disease. For example, China, which is normally Level 2, was bumped up to Level 3 today due to the recent outbreak of the coronavirus which has infected nearly 3,000 people and killed over 80.

Below is a list of 13 countries currently designated Level 4 by the US State Department—and why.

Iraq

U.S. citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping. Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. sectarian militias threaten U.S. citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq. Attacks by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of the country, including Baghdad.

Iran

  • S. citizens visiting or residing in Iran have been kidnapped, arrested, and detained on spurious charges. Iranian authorities continue to unjustly detain and imprison U.S. citizens, particularly dual national Iranian-Americans–including students, journalists, business travelers, and academics–on charges including espionage and posing a threat to national security.  Iranian authorities routinely delay consular access to detained U.S. citizens and consistently deny consular access to dual U.S.-Iranian citizens.

Mali

Violent crime, such as kidnapping and armed robbery, is common in Mali. Violent crime is a particular concern during local holidays and seasonal events in Bamako, its suburbs, and Mali’s southern regions. Roadblocks and random police checkpoints are commonplace throughout the country, especially at night.

Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting kidnappings and attacks in Mali. They may attack with little or no warning, targeting night clubs, hotels, restaurants, places of worship, Western diplomatic missions, and other locations frequented by foreigners.

Central African Republic

Violent crime such as armed robbery, assault, sexual assault, carjacking, and homicide is common throughout the country. Large areas of the country are controlled by armed groups fighting for control of territory. They regularly commit serious crimes, such as assault, kidnapping, and murder.

Large gatherings and extrajudicial mobs can form quickly and become violent. Authorities may close airports, land borders, and roads with little or no notice.

Venezuela

Violent crime, such as homicide, armed robbery, kidnapping, and carjacking, is common. Political rallies and demonstrations occur, often with little notice. Demonstrations typically elicit a strong police and security force response that includes the use of tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons, and rubber bullets against participants and occasionally devolve into looting and vandalism.

Yemen

Terrorist groups continue to plot and conduct attacks in Yemen. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting public sites, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Additionally, there is a continuing threat of kidnapping/detention by terrorists, criminal elements, and/or non-government actors. Employees of western organizations may be targeted for attack or kidnapping.

South Sudan

Violent crime, such as carjackings, shootings, ambushes, assaults, robberies, and kidnappings is common throughout South Sudan, including Juba. Foreign nationals have been the victims of rape, sexual assault, armed robberies, and other violent crimes.

Armed conflict is ongoing and includes fighting between various political and ethnic groups. Weapons are readily available to the population. In addition, cattle raids occur throughout the country and often lead to violence.

Burkina Faso

Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks in Burkina Faso. Terrorists may conduct attacks anywhere with little or no warning. Targets could include hotels, restaurants, police stations, customs offices, areas at or near mining sites, places of worship, military posts, and schools.

Kidnapping and hostage taking is a threat throughout the country.  On May 10, 2019 a hostage rescue operation freed four international hostages that had been kidnapped in Burkina Faso and in neighboring Benin.  

Syria

No part of Syria is safe from violence. Kidnappings by armed groups, arbitrary arrests, the use of chemical warfare, shelling, and aerial bombardment pose significant risk of death or serious injury. The destruction of infrastructure, housing, medical facilities, schools, and power and water utilities has also increased hardships inside the country.

Somalia

Violent crime, such as kidnapping and murder, is common throughout Somalia, including Puntland and Somaliland. Illegal roadblocks are also widespread. A number of schools acting as “cultural rehabilitation” facilities are operating throughout Somalia with unknown licensing and oversight. Reports of physical abuse and people being held against their will in these facilities are common.

Terrorists continue to plot kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in Somalia.  They may conduct attacks with little or no warning, targeting airports and seaports, government buildings, hotels, restaurants, shopping areas, and other areas where large crowds gather and Westerners frequent, as well as government, military, and Western convoys.  Methods of attack can include car bombs, suicide bombers, individual attackers, and mortar fire, among others. 

Afghanistan

Travel to all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe because of critical levels of kidnappings, hostage taking, suicide bombings, widespread military combat operations, landmines, and terrorist and insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne, magnetic, or other improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide vests, and grenades.

North Korea

Do not travel to North Korea due to the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals.

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Korea as it does not have diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea. Sweden serves as the protecting power for the United States in North Korea, providing limited emergency services. The North Korean government routinely delays or denies Swedish officials access to detained U.S. citizens. 

Libya

Crime levels in Libya remain high, including the threat of kidnapping for ransom. Westerners and U.S. citizens have been targets of these crimes.

Terrorist groups continue plotting attacks in Libya. Violent extremist activity in Libya remains high, and extremist groups have made threats against U.S. government officials, citizens, and interests. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, hotels, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.

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