The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Kenya. U.S. citizens in Kenya and those considering travel to Kenya should evaluate their personal security situation in light of continuing threats from terrorism and the high rate of violent crime. This replaces the Travel Warning of July 24, 2009 to note areas of concern now include portions of Lamu district and provide additional cautions to U.S. citizens regarding potentially threatening circumstances.
The U.S. government continues to receive information regarding potential terrorist threats aimed at U.S., Western, and Kenyan interests in Kenya. Terrorist acts could include suicide operations, bombings, kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation as evidenced by the 2002 attacks on an Israeli airliner, and attacks on maritime vessels in or near Kenyan ports. Many of those responsible for the attacks on the U.S. Embassy in 1998 and on a hotel in Mombasa in 2002 remain at large and continue to operate in the region. Travelers should consult the Worldwide Caution for further information and details.
In July 2009, three NGO workers were kidnapped and taken into Somalia by suspected members of a terrorist group that operates out of Somalia. In November 2008, armed groups based in Somalia crossed into Kenya near the town of El Wak and kidnapped two Westerners. The U.S. Embassy in Nairobi has designated a portion of Kenya bordering Somalia and Ethiopia as “restricted without prior authorization” for purposes of travel by U.S. Government employees, contractors, grantees, and their dependents. Travelers should be aware that U.S. Embassy security personnel recently expanded the restricted area to include portions of Lamu district. This designation is based on reports of Somali-based armed groups known to have crossed into Kenya to stage attacks or to commit crimes. This restriction does not apply to travelers not associated with the U.S. government, but should be taken into account when planning travel. The restriction is in effect for the following areas:
-All of Mandera District.
-The entire area north and east of the town of Wajir, including travel on Highway C80 and areas east of C80 and an 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) wide band contiguous with the Somalia border. Travel to and within the towns of Wajir and Moyale remains unrestricted.
-Within Garissa District, an 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) wide band contiguous with the Somalia border. Travel to and within the town of Dadaab remains unrestricted.
-Within Ijara District, an 80-kilometer (about 50 miles) wide band contiguous with the Somalia border; Boni National Reserve.
-Within Lamu District, a 60-kilometer (about 40 miles) wide band starting northeast of Pate Island to the Somalia border. Towns and resorts within/contiguous to the Kiunga Marine Reserve are now included in the restricted area.
Violent and sometimes fatal criminal attacks, including armed carjackings, home invasions/burglaries and kidnappings can occur at any time and in any location, particularly in Nairobi. As recently as spring 2010, U.S. nationals were victims of carjacking and kidnapping. In the short-term, the continued displacement of thousands of people by the civil unrest of 2008 combined with endemic poverty and the availability of weapons could result in an increase in crime, both petty and violent. Kenyan authorities have limited capacity to deter or investigate such acts or prosecute perpetrators.
U.S. citizens in Kenya should be extremely vigilant with regard to their personal security, particularly in public places frequented by foreigners such as clubs, hotels, resorts, upscale shopping centers, restaurants, and places of worship. U.S. citizens should also remain alert in residential areas, at schools, and at outdoor recreational events.
U.S. citizens should avoid demonstrations and political rallies of all kinds. Most political gatherings are peaceful, but they can turn violent with no notice. In the run-up to the constitutional referendum in June 2010, six Kenyans were killed and 100 injured at a prayer meeting/political rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi.
U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Kenya are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) in order to receive the most up-to-date security information. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. U.S. citizens without Internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi. The U.S. Embassy is located on United Nations Avenue, Gigiri, Nairobi, Kenya; telephone (254) (20) 363-6000; fax (254) (20) 363-6410. In the event of an after-hours emergency, the Embassy duty officer may be contacted at (254) (20) 363-6000. Travelers may also consult the Embassy home pagefor more information.
U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for Kenya and the Worldwide Caution, which are located on theDepartment of State’s website. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well.