US Embassy in Baghdad Issues Security Alert
The US Department of State located in Baghdad, Iraq issued a Security Alert which advises U.S. citizens not to approach the Embassy.
On December 31, 2019, the Embassy’s website posted a statement that says ‘In an emergency, U.S. citizens in Iraq or those concerned about family in Iraq should contact the Department of State at +1-202-501-4444 or toll-free in the U.S. at 1-888-407-4747.’
Previously, on December 9, 2019, the Embassy issued a Demonstration Alert, which said ‘According to reports, demonstrations are expected to increase in size. And, U.S. citizens may see a heavy security presence.’
These notices were preceded by a Level 4 Travel Advisory issued by the US Department of State for the country of Iraq.
This ‘Do Not Travel’ Advisory was issued on May 15, 2019, and was related to various conflicts in Iraq, which may place US citizens at risk.
Furthermore, the Department of State ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. government employees from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad and the U.S. Consulate in Erbil.
On October 18, 2018, the Department of State ordered the temporary suspension of operations at the U.S. Consulate General in Basrah.
This Advisory says ‘U.S. citizens should not travel through Iraq to Syria, where they would face extreme personal risks. The Kurdistan Regional Government stated that it will impose prison sentences of up to ten years on individuals who illegally cross the border.
Separately, the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) updated its Advisory on December 20, 2019, which says ‘The security situation throughout Iraq remains uncertain and could deteriorate quickly. Make sure you have robust contingency plans in place.’
The UK’s FCO advises against all travel to:
- Anbar province
- Ninewah province
- Salah-Al-Din province
- Diyala province
- Tam’mim (Kirkuk) province
- in Erbil province, south of Road 80, and within 10km of the border with Ninewah province between Road 80 and Road 2.
The US State Department says ‘if you decide to travel to Iraq, review these action items:
- Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
- Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
- Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States.
- Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
From a health perspective, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on October 3, 2019, that visitors to Iraq should be up to date on Routine Vaccinations and various preventive vaccines, based upon where you are traveling.
This CDC vaccine advisory includes notices of yellow fever, rabies, and measles virus outbreaks.
Travel vaccine news published by Vax-Before-Travel.