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Travel Warning: Lebanon
Lebanon Travel Warning
United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
April 29, 2002
This Travel Warning is being issued to update the security situation in
Lebanon. During the recent increase in tensions in the Middle East, there
have been a number of anti-U.S. demonstrations, some of them violent.
Hizballah and Palestinian militants have also become more active along
Lebanon's southern border. This supersedes the Travel Warning for Lebanon
issued August 28, 2000.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to
Lebanon and recommends that Americans exercise caution while traveling
there. During Lebanon's civil conflict from 1975 to 1990, Americans were
the targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon. While there have been
very few such incidents in recent years, the perpetrators of these attacks
are still present in Lebanon and retain the ability to act.
The U.S. Government considers the potential threat to U.S. Government
personnel assigned to Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live
and work under a strict security regime. This can limit the movement of
U.S. Embassy officials in certain areas of the country. This factor, plus
limited staffing, prevents the Embassy from performing full consular
functions and may hinder timely assistance to Americans in Lebanon.
Unofficial travel to Lebanon by U.S. Government employees and their family
members requires prior approval by the Department of State.
American air carriers are prohibited from using Beirut International Airport
(BIA) due to continuing concern about airport and aircraft security
arrangements. For similar reasons, the Lebanese carrier Middle East
Airlines (MEA) is not permitted to operate service into the U.S. However,
sales of airline tickets for travel to Lebanon are permitted in the U.S.,
including on MEA. Official U.S. government travelers take extraordinary
security measures when using the Beirut International Airport.
The Department of State keeps the security situation in Lebanon under close
review and will address additional risks and take any other appropriate
steps as necessary. U.S. citizens who travel to Lebanon should exercise
caution when traveling in parts of the southern suburbs of Beirut and
portions of the Bekaa Valley and South Lebanon. Hizballah has not been
disarmed and it maintains a strong presence in these areas. Palestinian
groups hostile to both the Lebanese government and the U.S. operate largely
autonomously inside refugee camps in different areas of the country; travel
by U.S. citizens to Palestinian camps should therefore be avoided. Asbat
al-Ansar, a terrorist group with apparent links to Al-Qaida, has targeted
U.S. and Lebanese government interests. It has been outlawed by the
Lebanese government but continues to maintain a presence in Ain al-Hilweh
refugee camp. Since late March, there has been an increase in violent
activities by Hizballah in Sheba Farms (in the south), and by Palestinian
elements in some other areas along the Lebanon-Israeli border. There have
also been demonstrations and spontaneous protests, sometimes violent, in
Lebanon's camps, most major cities, and near the U.S. Embassy and United
Dangers posed by land mines and unexploded ordnance throughout south Lebanon
are significant and also exist in other areas where civil war fighting was
intense. Travelers should be aware of posted mine warnings and strictly
avoid all areas where mines and unexploded ordnance may be present.
Security conditions in areas along the Israel-Lebanon border are subject to
change. There have been isolated incidents resulting in civilian injuries,
including from accidental detonation of mines and confrontations across the
border with Israeli forces in the immediate area of the border demarcation.
The security situation may change rapidly, and visitors to Lebanon should
monitor the news for reports of incidents that might affect their personal
safety. From time to time the Embassy may temporarily suspend public
services to review its security posture. In those instances, U.S. citizens
who require emergency services may telephone the Embassy.
U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Lebanon are encouraged to register
at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Public access hours for American citizens
are Monday through Thursday, 8:00 a.m. to
11:00 a.m. Contact with the U.S. Embassy on specific registration
requirements may take place by phone, fax, or mail. American Citizen
Services inquiries are answered by phone from 1:00 p.m. to
4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, American citizens who require
emergency services outside of these hours can contact the Embassy by
telephone at any time. The Embassy is located in Awkar, near Antelias, P.O.
Box 70-840, Beirut, Lebanon. The telephone numbers are (961-4) 542-600,
543-600, 544-310, 544-130, 544-140, and fax 544-209. Additional details can
be found in the Department of State's latest Consular Information Sheet for
Lebanon. The Embassy web site is usembassy.gov.lb.