Afghanistal US Consular Information Sheet March 03, 2009
Afghanistan has made significant progress since the Taliban were deposed in 2001, but still faces daunting challenges, including de
A passport and valid visa are required to enter and exit Afghanistan. Afghan entry visas are not available at Kabul International Airport or any other ports of entry in Afghanistan. American citizens who arrive without a visa are subject to confiscation of their passport and face heavy fines and difficulties in retrieving their passport and obtaining a visa, as well as possible deportation from the country. Americans arriving in the country via military air usually have considerable difficulties if they choose to depart Afghanistan on commercial air, because their passports are not stamped to show that they entered the country legally. Those coming on military air should move quickly after arrival to legalize their status if there is any chance they will depart the country on anything other than military air. Visit the Embassy of Afghanistan web site at http://www.embassyofafghanistan.org for the most current visa information. The Consular office of the Embassy of Afghanistan is located at 2233 Wisconsin Avenue NW, Suite 216, Washington, DC 20007, phone number 202-298-9125. Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our web site. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information sheet.
SAFETY AND SECURITY:
The latest Travel Warning for Afghanistan emphasizes that the security situation remains critical for American citizens. The Taliban and associated insurgent groups, al-Qaida network terrorist organizations, and narco-traffickers oppose the strengthening of a democratic government. These groups aim to weaken or bring down the Government of Afghanistan and to drive Westerners out of the country. They do not hesitate to use violence, including targeting civilians. Terrorist activities may include, but are not limited to bombings -- including improvised explosive devices and car bombs -- assassinations, carjackings, rocket attacks, assaults and kidnappings. There were over 120 suicide attacks in 2008. There is an ongoing threat to attack and kidnap U.S. citizens and Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) workers throughout the country. In 2008,, more than 30 NGO workers were killed (six foreigners) and at least 78 NGO staff members (seven foreigners) were abducted. Over 25 other foreign civilians, including journalists, were kidnapped. Kabul continues to experience suicide bombings against Afghan government personnel and installations, Afghan and coalition military assets, and international civilians. Riots -- sometimes violent -- have occurred in response to various political or other issues. Crime, including violent crime, remains a significant problem. Official Americans' use of the Kabul-Jalalabad, Kabul-Kandahar highways and other roads throughout the country is often restricted or completely curtailed because of security concerns. Insurgents continue to use roadside and car bombs to conduct attacks and abductions along major highways. Millions of unexploded land mines and other ordinance present a constant danger. The country faces a difficult period in the near term, and American citizens could be targeted or placed at risk by unpredictable local events. Americans should not come to Afghanistan unless they have made arrangements in advance to address security concerns. The absence of records for ownership of property, differing laws from various regimes and the chaos that comes from decades of civil strife have left property issues in great disorder. Afghan-Americans returning to Afghanistan to recover property, or Americans coming to the country to engage in business, have become involved in complicated real estate disputes and have faced threats of retaliatory action, including kidnapping for ransom and death. Large parts of Afghanistan are extremely isolated, with few roads, mostly in poor condition, irregular cell phone signals, and none of the basic physical infrastructure found in Kabul or the larger cities. Americans traveling in these areas who find themselves in trouble may not even have a way to communicate their difficulties to the outside world. For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site, where the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts, as well as the Worldwide Caution, can be found. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, 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 U.S. federal holidays). The Department of State urges American citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas. For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
A large portion of the Afghan population is unemployed, and many among the unemployed have moved to urban areas. Basic services are rudimentary or non-existent. These factors may directly contribute to crime and lawlessness. Diplomats and international relief workers have reported incidents of robberies and household burglaries as well as kidnappings and assault. Any American citizen who enters Afghanistan should remain vigilant for possible banditry, including violent attacks.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and to the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the U.S. Embassy in Kabul for assistance. The Embassy staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred. Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to provide a list of attorneys if needed. The local equivalent to the "911" emergency line in Afghanistan is: 119 Please see our information on Victims of Crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Afghanistan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. During the last several years, there have been incidents involving the arrest and/or detention of U.S. citizens. Arrested Americans have faced periods of detention—sometimes in difficult conditions—while awaiting trial. Penalties for possession or use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Afghanistan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Another sensitive activity is proselytizing. Although the Afghan Constitution allows the free exercise of religion, proselytizing is often viewed as contrary to the beliefs of Islam and considered harmful to society. Proselytizing may lead to arrest and/or deportation. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States. Please see our information on Criminal Penalties.
Because of the poor infrastructure in Afghanistan, access to banking facilities is limited and unreliable. Afghanistan's economy operates on a "cash-only" basis for most transactions. Credit card transactions are not available. International bank transfers are limited. Some ATM machines exist at Standard Charter Bank and Afghan International Bank (AIB) in the Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood of Kabul, but some travelers have complained of difficulties using them. International communications are difficult. Local telephone networks do not operate reliably. Most people rely on satellite or cellular telephone communications even to make local calls. Cellular phone service is available locally in Kabul and some other cities, but can be unreliable. Injured or distressed foreigners could face long delays before being able to communicate their needs to family or colleagues outside of Afghanistan. Internet access through local service providers is limited. In addition to being subject to all Afghan laws, U.S. citizens who are also citizens of Afghanistan may also be subject to other laws that impose special obligations on Afghan citizens. U.S. citizens who are also Afghan nationals do not require visas for entry into Afghanistan. The Embassy of Afghanistan issues a letter confirming your nationality for entry into Afghanistan. However, you may wish to obtain a visa as some Afghan-Americans have experienced difficulties at land border crossings because they do not have a visa in their passport. For additional information on dual nationality in general, see the Consular Affairs home page for our dual nationality flyer. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passport with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship is readily available. As stated in the Travel Warning, consular assistance for American citizens in Afghanistan is limited. Islam provides the foundation of Afghanistan's customs, laws and practices. Foreign visitors -- men and women -- are expected to remain sensitive to the Islamic culture and not dress in a revealing or provocative manner, including the wearing of sleeveless shirts and blouses, halter-tops and shorts. Women in particular, especially when traveling outside of Kabul, may want to ensure that their tops have long sleeves and cover their collarbone and waistband, and that their pants/skirts cover their ankles. Almost all women in Afghanistan cover their hair in public; American women visitors should carry scarves for this purpose. Afghan customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from Afghanistan of items such as firearms, alcoholic beverages, religious materials, antiquities, medications, and printed materials. American travelers have faced fines and/or confiscation of items considered antiquities upon exiting Afghanistan. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Afghanistan in Washington for specific information regarding customs requirements. Travelers en route to Afghanistan may transit countries that have restrictions on firearms, including antique or display models. If you plan to take firearms or ammunition to another country, you should contact officials at that country's embassy and those that you will be transiting to learn about their regulations and fully comply with those regulations before traveling. Please consult http://www.customs.gov for information on importing firearms into the United States. Please see our Customs Information sheet.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
Well-equipped medical facilities are few and far between throughout Afghanistan. European and American medicines are available in limited quantities and may be expensive or difficult to locate. There is a shortage of basic medical supplies. Basic medicines manufactured in Iran, Pakistan, and India are available, but their reliability can be questionable. Several western-style private clinics have opened in Kabul: the DK-German Medical Diagnostic Center (www.medical-kabul.com), Acomet Family Hospital (www.afghancomet.com), and CURE International Hospital (ph. 079-883-830) offer a variety of basic and routine-type care; Americans seeking treatment should request American or Western health practitioners. Afghan public hospitals should be avoided. Individuals without government licenses or even medical degrees often operate private clinics; there is no public agency that monitors their operations. Travelers will not be able to find Western-trained medical personnel in most parts of the country outside of Kabul, although there are some international aid groups temporarily providing basic medical assistance in various cities and villages. For any medical treatment, payment is required in advance. Commercial medical evacuation capability from Afghanistan is limited and could take days to arrange. Even medevac companies that claim to service the world may not agree to come to Afghanistan. Those with medevac insurance should confirm with the insurance provider that it will be able to provide medevac assistance to this country. There have been outbreaks of Avian Influenza in poultry in Afghanistan, to include the areas of Nangahar, Laghman, and Wardak provinces, and in the city of Kabul, however, there have been no reported cases of the H5N1 virus in humans. Updates on the Avian Influenza situation in Afghanistan are published on the Embassy’s web site at http://kabul.usembassy.gov/information_for_travelers.html. For additional information on Avian Influenza, please refer to the Department of State's Avian Influenza Fact Sheet available at http://travel.state.gov/travel/tips/health/health_1181.html Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in Afghanistan. For further information, please consult the CDC's Travel Notice on TB. http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/yellowBookCh4-TB.aspx| The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Afghanistan. However, if one has questions, please inquire directly with the Embassy of Afghanistan at http://www.embassyofafghanistan.org before you travel. Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s web site. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) web site. Further health information for travelers is available from the WHO.
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. Please see our information on medical insurance overseas. TRAFFIC
SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Afghanistan is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance. All drivers face the potential danger of encountering improvised-explosive devices and land mines that may have been planted on or near roadways. An estimated 5-7 million landmines and large quantities of unexploded ordinance exist throughout the countryside and alongside roads, posing a danger to travelers. Robbery and kidnappings are also prevalent on highways outside of Kabul. The transportation system in Afghanistan is marginal, although the international community is constructing modern highways and provincial roads. Vehicles are poorly maintained, often overloaded, and traffic laws are not enforced. Vehicular traffic is chaotic and must contend with numerous pedestrians, bicyclists and animals. Many urban streets have large potholes and are not well lit. Rural roads are not paved. Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:
As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Afghanistan, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s internet website at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa. U.S. Government personnel are not authorized to travel on Ariana Afghan Airlines or any other airline falling under the oversight of the Government of Afghanistan’s Civil Aviation Authority, owing to safety concerns; however, U.S. Government personnel are permitted to travel on international flights operated by airlines from countries whose civil aviation authorities meet international aviation safety standards for the oversight of their air carrier operations under the FAA’s International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program.
For information see our Office of Children’s Issues web pages on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction. R
EGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:
Americans living or traveling in Afghanistan are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’s travel registration web site and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Afghanistan. Americans without internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located in Kabul on Great Massoud (Airport) Road, local phone number 0700-108-001 or 0700-108-002, and for emergencies after hours 0700-201-908. The web site is http://kabul.usembassy.gov/ * * * * * This replaces the Country Specific Information dated June 16, 2008 to update sections on Country Description, Entry/Exit Requirements, Safety and Security, Information for Victims of Crime, Criminal Penalties, Special Circumstances, and Medical Facilities and Health Information.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
Kabul, April 16, 2019 (AFP) - Torrential rainstorms have lashed drought-stricken Afghanistan in recent days, bringing widespread flooding that has killed at least five people and washed away homes including in the capital Kabul, officials said Tuesday. While some welcomed the wet weather after the punishing dry spell of recent years, residents complained about the lack of infrastructure and government assistance to help them clear up from the deluge.
Sixteen of Afghanistan's 34 provinces were hit in the past 24 hours, destroying or damaging hundreds of houses and sweeping away livestock, said Hashmat Bahaduri, a spokesman for Afghanistan's National Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA). Hardest hit was Herat province in western Afghanistan, where at least five people were killed when their houses collapsed, Jilani Farhad, a spokesman for the local governor said. Officials were also searching for 17 people whose minivan was swept away by flooding in the province's Obey district late Monday, Farhad added. "There were women and children in the vehicle, we are searching but haven't found any sign of them yet," he said.
Extraordinary scenes played out in the capital, where the usually parched Kabul River swelled suddenly, bursting its banks in places and swamping surrounding streets and neighbourhoods with about one metre (three feet) of water in places. Drug addicts who normally spend their time in the riverbed or hiding under bridges could be seen openly smoking opium at street level as water swirled around them. By Tuesday, authorities were warning locals living along the river to be prepared to evacuate their homes as water levels surged. Bahaduri said 113 houses had already been partially or completely destroyed in Kabul.
In the capital, a university student named Mujtaba bemoaned a lack of drainage canals, but others welcomed the rain. "It is a bliss to have all this water and rain, we are thankful to God to have rain and get rid of the drought problems," Kabul resident Mansoor Majab told AFP. Years of dry weather, combined with a booming population and wasteful consumption, have drained Kabul's water basin, forcing residents to drill ever-deeper wells. This winter saw heavy snowfall across parts of Afghanistan, which had led to flash floods in the spring melt. Over one hundred people had been killed as of March 28 due to flooding in Afghanistan so far this year, according to ANDMA.
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Herat, Afghanistan, March 31, 2019 (AFP) - Villagers in western Afghanistan began cleaning up Sunday after the worst floods in a decade swept away houses and forced many families -- already displaced by drought -- to abandon damaged homes. Heavy rains that started early Friday and continued for two days caused flash floods in at least five provinces in western and northern parts of Afghanistan, killing at least 35 people. Aside from washing away houses, the floods destroyed some internally displaced people's shelters and cut off access to remote villages across several parts of the country.
In Herat province in the west, at least 10 districts and some parts of Herat city were affected. Video footage from Herat province showed crumpled cars buried deep in mud, collapsed walls, mud houses strewn with debris, fallen trees and people trying to rescue whatever was left of their property from the mud. "We have lost everything here and have nothing left to survive on," Bibi Gul, a resident of Herat who had lost her house, told AFP. Fazel Ahmad, another resident, described a similar sense of loss. "Cows, sheep and even our pigeons are under the debris," Ahmad said. Mohammad Hanif Arbabzada said about 80 percent of the houses in his village were destroyed.
In all, more than 3,000 houses were either partially or completely destroyed, according to Hashmat Bahaduri, a spokesman for Afghanistan's National Disaster Management Authority. Heavy snowfall across large swathes of Afghanistan this winter raised fears of severe flooding as spring approaches, following years of devastating drought. Earlier this month, at least 20 people were killed by flash floods caused by heavy rains that swept away thousands of homes and vehicles in southern Kandahar province.
By Mushtaq MOJADDIDI
Kabul, March 7, 2019 (AFP) - At least two blasts struck a large ceremony Thursday attended by Afghanistan chief executive Abdullah Abdullah and other leading government officials, killing one person and injuring 17 others. The Kabul attack represents a major security breach and marks a resumption of violence in the capital after weeks of calm amid ongoing peace talks between the US and Taliban in Doha. "Stay calm, the area of the blast is far from us," said former lower house speaker Mohammad Younus Qanooni during a live broadcast of the event. But moments after the announcement, another explosion and gunfire could be heard that sent people running. A second unidentified voice then addressed the screaming crowd, saying: "I request my countrymen to stay calm. The mortar attack is far from the gathering."
The blasts happened during a ceremony marking the 24th anniversary of the death of Shiite Hazara leader Abdul Ali Mazari that was attended by many of the country's political elite, including Abdullah and former President Hamid Karzai. "Terrorists were firing Mortars at Abdul Ali Mazari remembrance ceremony, from inside a compound," deputy interior minister Khoshal Sadat said in English on Twitter, adding that police had arrested one person linked to the attack. "One martyred, 17 wounded -- 3 children and one woman among them," tweeted Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the health ministry. Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani -- who was at the scene -- later added that "terrorists launched rocket attacks on commemoration ceremony", and said he had escaped safely. It remained unclear whether rockets or mortar fire were being used, with officials using both terms.
- 'Unforgivable attack' -
No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts. "This was the most horrid and unforgivable attack on civilians by a merciless enemy," tweeted presidential candidate and former national security adviser Mohammad Haneef Atmar. He added that eight of his security guards were injured in the attack. The incident comes as US and Taliban negotiations continue to hold peace talks in Qatar aimed at ending the nearly 18-year conflict.
The last major attack in Kabul occurred in January when the Taliban-claimed responsibility for a car bomb that struck the heavily fortified Green Village foreign compound. Heavy snowfall across large swathes of Afghanistan has led to a reduction in violence this winter, but warmer weather in the country's south will likely spark an increase in bloodshed with the arrival of the spring fighting season. Analysts have warned that the Taliban are likely to ramp up attacks in the coming months as they seek to maintain momentum on the battlefield and leverage at the negotiating table.
On Wednesday at least 16 people were killed in a suicide attack on a construction company in eastern Afghanistan's Jalalabad city. The hours-long attack began early Wednesday when two suicide bombers detonated explosives at the gate of the compound, allowing three others to enter the area where they went on a killing spree. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but both the Islamic State group and the Taliban are active near the city, in Nangarhar province. Afghanistan has been enmeshed in nearly constant conflict since the Soviet invasion of 1979, which was followed by civil war, the Taliban regime, and the US invasion in late 2001.
Kandahar, Afghanistan, March 2, 2019 (AFP) - At least 20 people were killed by flash floods in southern Afghanistan's Kandahar province, the UN said Saturday, as heavy rains swept away homes and vehicles and potentially damaged thousands of houses. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said widespread flooding indudated Kandahar city and surrounding districts in the province, with 97mm of rain falling in affected areas in the last 30 hours. "At least 10 people, including children, are still missing," said the UN agency in a statement.
"It is anticipated that up to 2,000 homes may have been damaged", with severe damage to infrastructure also being reported. Kandahar's deputy governor Abdul Hanan Moneeb said the flooding was the worst in at least seven years, with many nomadic herders camped in the area swept away by the floodwaters along with their livestock. The official added that 400 families have been rescued by the Afghan army since the flooding began late Friday night. Rescue operations, however, were largely delayed due to heavy rainfall, Raziq Shirzai, the provincial commander of the Afghan air force, told AFP.
Disasters such as avalanches and flash floods often hit mountainous areas and river valleys of Afghanistan as snow melts in the spring and summer. It is made worse by deforestation. Heavy snowfall across large swathes of Afghanistan this winter has raised fears of severe flooding as spring approaches, following years of devastating drought in the country. Nearly 50 people have been killed as of February 12 due to flooding in Afghanistan so far this year, according to the UN.
The land mass of Korea is currently divided into North and South since World War 11. The South is a democratic Republic and there are extensive tourist facilities available throughout
South Korea has four distinct seasons throughout the year. The winters can be very cold while the summers hot and very humid. The rainfall is mainly concentrated during the summer season.
Overcoming Jet Lag
ry to arrange your flights so that you arrive in plenty of time before the first match. Allow 48 hours if at all possible to get over the inevitable jet lag. Walk about on the flight, drink plenty of water and stay off the alcohol. Flight crews are understandably very sensitive nowadays about any disturbance and the last thing you will want is to be dumped off the flight to make your own way home. Sleep on the plane if possible though remember this may increase the risk of blood clots so move your legs about when awake. Talk to your doctor about taking aspirin if you are at higher than normal risk (older age group, over weight, on the contraceptive pill, varicose veins etc).
Arriving into Seoul
The new Incheon international airport is an hour or two away from Seoul and there are no subways or rail systems connecting the airport to the city. However, buses and taxis are easily available. Customs facilities are good but careful so remember not to carry any parcels for another unless you are certain of the contents. A departure tax may be payable on leaving South Korea.
In Seoul, like any other major city, there is an increased risk of petty crime (pickpocketing, purse snatching etc) so take extra care of your belongings - especially in crowded places like markets, local buses and football matches! The Itaewon and other large markets are known risk areas for this type of activity. Use the hotel safe for your main valuables and carry little of importance while out and about.
In South Korea the emergency number for the main services is 112. The operators will usually speak good English. There is also a 24/7 service available through the Korean National Police where travellers can report crime etc. The number in Seoul is 313-0842 and in other regions 02-313-0842.
Generally the level of health facilities throughout most of the main urban centres is excellent. However, treatment can be expensive and the medical providers will expect payment before treatment is started. Make sure your travel health insurance is adequate for your journey.
The road infrastructure throughout most of South Korea is excellent. However, accidents do occur and if hiring a car ‘defensive’ driving is essential at all times while abroad. Safety belts are compulsory at all times for both front and rear seats. Any accident tends to lead to long delays as the paperwork is sorted out. The Koreans may at times drive their motorbikes and scooters on foot pavements so care should be taken at all times.
The level of security at South Korean immigration is high so beware of the delays which may be incurred.
Food & Water Care
While travelling it is essential that care is taken to protect your stomach against unnecessary risk. Generally tourists will be keen to try out the local cuisine but this can lead to days of illness. In most circumstances it is wise to stick to hot, freshly cooked food fruit you peel yourself. Bivalve shell fish (mussels, clams, oysters etc) are seldom cooked sufficiently to sterilise them completely and are best avoided. Undercooked fish (Sushi) or any meats should also be avoided.
Heat & Humidity
The summer months in South Korea are hot and sticky. It will be important to have the right clothing (light weight loosely fitted cotton) and to drink plenty of water to replace what is lost through dehydration. Salt will also need to be replaced and providing there is no medical contraindication eating crisps, salted nuts etc is an excellent way to replenish your levels.
Avoiding Prickly Heat
The term prickly heat is used in a variety of ways but the cause is generally the same. In a hot climate the body perspires to maintain the internal temperature at a correct level. In the perspiration there will be fluid and your personal salts. The fluid evaporates but the salt dries against the skin. It is your individual reaction to this salt that leads to the ‘prickly heat rash’. The reaction to these salts can be minimised by removing the salts from the skin surface as soon as possible. Change your clothes regularly, use plenty of talcum powder to absorb the perspiration and dry off well after showering.
Breathing the air
Any of the airborne diseases are most commonly spread when folks crowd together. International football matches, market places, local transport and the cinema are times when exposure and infection are most likely. Carrying some simple cold remedies might be a wise precaution and avoid the crowds where possible!
Vaccines for your trip
In most cases the only particular problem for those visiting either Japan or South Korea will be the risk of Hepatitis A (food and water spread). Of course Tetanus and various other food and water problems can occur but generally the risk is small providing a sensible approach is taken to act sensibly.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
Seoul, Nov 21, 2018 (AFP) - Tens of thousands of workers launched a half-day strike across South Korea Wednesday, accusing the government of rolling back pro-labour policies in the face of deepening economic woes. Some 40,000 of those who put down tools -- including some in the auto industry -- rallied in Seoul and 13 other cities, the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU), a major labour umbrella group, said. An AFP journalist in the capital said a crowd of around 10,000 workers gathered outside the country's parliament wearing red headbands, chanting slogans and waving banners, as hundreds of riot police took positions nearby. The KCTU estimated 160,000 affiliated workers would join the walkout nationwide.
A government move to introduce greater flexibility to the country's maximum 52-hour work week -- to adjust to fluctuations in demand -- has particularly angered workers. They are also calling for liberal president Moon Jae-in's government to deliver on election promises to raise the minimum wage from 7,530 won (US$6.66) to 10,000 won (US$8.85) by 2020. Earlier this month, Moon sacked his top two economic officials, as the world's 11th-largest economy struggles with slowing growth, rising unemployment and persistent income gaps. These difficulties have hit the president's approval ratings, now at 52 percent -- a drop of 13 percentage points over five weeks, according to Gallup Korea.
Seoul, Oct 6, 2018 (AFP) - Two people died and one person is missing in South Korea as powerful typhoon Kong-Rey hit the country on Saturday, the government said. A 66-year-old man died while crossing a bridge in the city of Gwangju, south of Seoul, the national disaster management agency said without elaborating on the cause of the death.
Another man, aged 83, was found dead after being washed away by a river in a southern county of Yeongdeok, while a 76-year-old went missing after falling into a river in the southern port of Pohang. The powerful typhoon dumped heavy rain across the country from Friday before moving away from the peninsula Saturday afternoon.
Seoul, Sept 8, 2018 (AFP) - South Korea reported its first case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in three years, health officials said on Saturday. A 61-year-old businessman was diagnosed with the highly contagious viral respiratory illness, according to officials at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). He returned to South Korea Friday from a business trip in Kuwait where he stayed for three weeks, the KCDC said a statement.
"Authorities have traced and separated 20 people who have come in close contact with the infected person," KCDC head Chung Eun-gyeong told journalists. They include medical staff, flight attendants and passengers of the plane the man flew back to South Korea on, she said. He was hospitalised with fever and phlegm and has been quarantined at a university hospital, she added. It is the first case of MERS diagnosed in South Korea since 2015, when an outbreak killed 38 people and triggered widespread panic.
Seoul, South Korea, April 12, 2018 (AFP) - One person died and a dozen tourists were injured in a hot air balloon crash on South Korea's popular resort island of Jeju Thursday morning, police said. The balloon was carrying 12 passengers and a pilot -- who suffered a head injury and was later pronounced dead -- police said, adding they were investigating the cause of the crash.
Photos showed the deflated balloon draped over forest trees, with the basket lying on the ground. "It appears that the hot air balloon somehow fell rapidly and crashed into the trees," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed rescue worker as saying.
All 12 passengers suffered minor injuries and were being treated in hospital, police said, without giving their nationalities. The island off the southern coast of the peninsula is a well-known holiday destination for South Koreans as well as a growing number of Chinese tourists. More than 15 million people visited the island last year.
May 21, 2007
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is a developing country on the western coast of Africa.
The official capital is Yamoussoukro, but Abidjan is the largest city, the
Cote d'Ivoire is a republic whose constitution provides for separate branches of government under a strong president.
The country has been divided since a 2002 coup attempt developed into a civil war.
Despite several peace agreements and the establishment of a transitional government, key issues remain unresolved, elections have been delayed, and tensions persist throughout the country.
Tourist facilities in and near Abidjan, the commercial capital, are good; accommodations in many other locations are limited in quality and availability.
Read the Department of State Background Notes on Cote d’Ivoire for additional information.
A passport is required, but U.S. citizens traveling to Cote d'Ivoire for business or tourism do not require visas for stays of 90 days or less.
To stay longer than 90 days, the visitor may still enter without a visa, but then must apply for a "carte de sejour" within 90 days of arrival.
(Note: "Cartes de sejour" are not issued to children under the age of 16, who are documented on their parents' visas).
An international health certificate showing current yellow fever immunization is required for entry into Cote d'Ivoire.
Without it, the traveler may be required to submit to vaccination at the airport health office before clearing immigration, at a cost of 5,000 CFA (a little less than $10).
Travelers may obtain the latest information and details on entry requirements from the Embassy of the Republic of Cote d'Ivoire, 3421 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C. 20007, telephone (202) 797-0300.
There are honorary consulates for Cote d'Ivoire in San Francisco, Stamford, Orlando, Houston and Detroit.
Overseas, travelers should inquire at the nearest Ivorian embassy or consulate.
See our Foreign Entry Requirements brochure for more information on Cote d’Ivoire and other countries.
Visit the Embassy of Cote d'Ivoire web site at http://www.cotedivoireembassy.com/ for the most current visa information.
Foreign travelers are sometimes approached at ports of entry by individuals with offers to expedite passport control and customs, and are then asked to pay an exorbitant fee, both for the service and for the passport and customs officers.
Travelers to Cote d'Ivoire are advised that there is no need to pay a police officer or customs officer at the airport for any service rendered during an arrival or departure, and they should not surrender their passports or other important documents to anyone except easily identifiable government officials in uniform.
See Entry and Exit Requirements for more information pertaining to dual nationality and the prevention of international child abduction.
Please refer to our Customs Information to learn more about customs regulations.
SAFETY AND SECURITY:Cote d'Ivoire has been unstable since the coup in 1999, and territorially divided since 2002.
The New Forces control the northern and some western parts of the country.
There are many road checkpoints manned by security forces and militia in both the government-controlled and New Forces-controlled portions of the country.
Soldiers and militia members check documents and frequently demand cash for permission to pass.
Cote d'Ivoire's border with Liberia is open, but border controls are extensive.
Political instability has contributed to economic stagnation and high unemployment, exacerbating social tensions and creating the potential for labor unrest and civil disorder.
There have been recurring episodes of violence, some of them severe.
In November 2004, there was a brief resumption of hostilities between the two sides followed by widespread attacks against people and property in Abidjan and elsewhere.
Many of these attacks were directed against French and other expatriates, and thousands fled the country.
Americans should avoid crowds and demonstrations, be aware of their surroundings, and use common sense to avoid situations and locations that could be dangerous.
While diplomatic efforts to end the crisis are ongoing, further civil unrest, coup attempts or the resumption of hostilities are possible.
Swimming in coastal waters is dangerous and strongly discouraged, even for excellent swimmers.
The ocean currents along the coast are powerful and treacherous, and numerous people drown each year.
For the latest security information, Americans traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Internet web site where the current Travel Warnings and Public Announcements, including the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, can be found.
Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, 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 U.S. federal holidays).
The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to take responsibility for their own personal security while traveling overseas.
For general information about appropriate measures travelers can take to protect themselves in an overseas environment, see the Department of State’s pamphlet A Safe Trip Abroad.
Crime continues to be a major security threat for Americans living in Cote d'Ivoire.
Grab-and-run street crime and pick pocketing in crowded areas are widespread.
Armed carjacking, robberies of businesses and restaurants, and home invasions are common, and they often target expatriate residents who are perceived as wealthy.
Armed criminals use force when faced with resistance.
Travelers displaying jewelry and carrying cameras are especially at risk.
Travelers are advised to carry limited amounts of cash and only photocopies of key documents.
While there have been relatively few reported cases of sexual assault, given the general climate of criminality, the actual rate of assault may be much higher than that which is reported.
There were allegations of sexual assaults during the November 2004 civil strife.
Given the strong anti-French sentiment, people of non-African appearance may be specifically targeted for violence.
Avoid large gatherings and political demonstrations, as they can turn violent quickly.
Travel outside of Abidjan or at night is strongly discouraged, and it is particularly dangerous to visit Abidjan's Treichville, Adjame, Abobo, and Plateau districts after dark.
The DeGaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges in Abidjan are dangerous areas for pedestrians.
Inadequate resources and training limit the ability of the police to combat crime.
Many hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and supermarkets provide security guards to protect clients and vehicles.
Travelers should take the same common sense precautions in Abidjan that they would in any metropolitan area in the United States.
Travelers should stay in well-lit areas and walk confidently at a steady pace on the side of the street facing traffic close to the curb.
Travelers should avoid crowds, mass transit, doorways, bushes, alleys and sparsely populated areas.
Travelers who need transportation at night should take an Orange metered taxi.
Travelers should be discreet about your transactions, especially in sight on the street.
Normal spending habits of Westerners appear extravagant.
Credit card use in Cote d'Ivoire is limited, particularly outside Abidjan, but credit card fraud is an increasing problem.
Travelers should not use credit cards in paper transactions unless the credit card transaction is electronically performed in view of the individual.
Business fraud is rampant and the perpetrators often target foreigners, including Americans.
Schemes previously associated with Nigeria are now prevalent throughout West Africa, including Cote d'Ivoire, and pose a danger of grave financial loss.
Typically these scams begin with unsolicited communication (usually e-mails) from strangers who promise quick financial gain, often by transferring large sums of money or valuables out of the country, but then require a series of "advance fees" to be paid, such as fees for legal documents or taxes.
Of course, the final payoff does not exist; the purpose of the scam is simply to collect the advance fees.
A common variation is the scammer’s claim to be a refugee or émigré of a prominent West African family, or a relative of a present or former political leader who needs assistance in transferring large sums of cash.
Still other variations appear to be legitimate business deals that require advance payments on contracts.
Sometimes victims are convinced to provide bank account and credit card information and financial authorization that drains their accounts, incurs large debts against their credit, and takes their life savings.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of advance-fee fraud is common sense — if a proposition looks too good to be true, it probably is a scam, particularly if one has never met the correspondent.
Travelers should carefully check and research any unsolicited business proposal before committing any funds, providing any goods or services, and undertaking any travel.
A good clue to a scam is the phone number given to the victim; legitimate businesses and offices provide fixed line numbers, while scams typically use only cell phones.
In Cote d'Ivoire, all cell phone numbers start with zero.
It is virtually impossible to recover money lost through these scams.
For additional information please consult the Department of State's brochure Advance Fee Business Scams.
INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF CRIME:
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, in addition to reporting to local police, please contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate for assistance.
The Embassy/Consulate staff can, for example, assist you to find appropriate medical care, contact family members or friends and explain how funds could be transferred.
Although the investigation and prosecution of the crime is solely the responsibility of local authorities, consular officers can help you to understand the local criminal justice process and to find an attorney if needed
See our information on Victims of Crime.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
Abidjan has privately-run medical and dental facilities that are adequate but do not fully meet U.S. standards.
Good physician specialists can be found, though few speak English.
While pharmacies are well stocked with medications produced in Europe, newer drugs may not be available.
Medical care in Cote d'Ivoire outside of Abidjan is extremely limited.
Malaria is a serious health problem in Cote d’Ivoire.
For more information on malaria, including protective measures, see the Centers for Disease Control Travelers’ Health web site at http://www.cdc.gov/malaria/.
The avian influenza or “Bird Flu” virus (H5N1) has been confirmed in animals in Cote d’Ivoire as of June 2006.
For more information regarding Avian Influenza, please visit the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel/other/avian_flu/ and the State Department’s Avian Influenza Fact Sheet.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s internet site at http://www.cdc.gov/travel.
For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/en.
Further health information for travelers is available at http://www.who.int/ith.
The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.
Please see our information on medical insurance overseas.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States.
The information below concerning Cote d’Ivoire is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Serious traffic accidents, one of the greatest threats to U.S. citizens in Cote d’Ivoire, occur regularly in Abidjan.
Unsafe road conditions, unskilled drivers, and poorly maintained and overloaded vehicles create very poor driving conditions.
Speed limits, signals, and yielding for pedestrians and cyclists are not respected.
Travelers should drive defensively, watch out for public transportation vehicles that stop and start without warning, and be especially cautious at intersections because traffic lights often malfunction.
Travelers who must travel at night should beware of vehicles without headlights and/or taillights, and pedestrians and bicycles along the roadside.
In case of an accident, travelers are advised not to move their vehicle until a police officer authorizes.
Travelers should go to the nearest hospital or police station if there is no other vehicle to take the injured to a hospital, or if there is reason to believe that their life is in danger from others at the site of the accident.
Abidjan has a poor public transportation system; if traveling by bus, use only the “Express” line.
In Abidjan, taxis are readily available, inexpensive (metered), but poorly maintained and notorious for not respecting the rules of the road.
Communal taxis (“woro-woros”), used only within the limits of each commune, are not metered and are dangerous.
Local vans ("Gbaka") should not be used because they are frequently involved in accidents.
Criminals usually steal vehicles when the driver is in or near the vehicle, so car doors and windows should be kept locked.
While stopped in traffic, travelers should remember to allow enough room between your car and the one in front to maneuver out if needed.
Travelers should look around to see if there is anyone paying unusual attention or if someone appears to be watching, before entering their vehicles. Travelers should not attempt to enter their vehicles, and should go get assistance.
Travelers should enter and exit their vehicles as quickly as possible, to limit their vulnerability to carjacking.
Victims of carjacking should not resist.
Victims should try to remain calm and give the carjackers what they want, which is usually the vehicle and any valuables.
Experience shows that criminals usually don’t use violence unless they are confronted with resistance.
Furthermore, it is not uncommon to take an occupant, usually a woman or child, as hostage to ensure their safe escape; the hostage is usually released unharmed.
This is a very difficult situation; victims should use their best judgment in deciding a course of action.
A newer phenomenon is the staged accidental "bumping" accident.
If your vehicle is "bumped" from the rear or the side, stay locked inside because this ruse is used to get the driver out and leave the vehicle free for carjacking.
Travelers with cell phones should call for assistance.
Victims should report the accident at the nearest police station as soon as possible if they feel their safety is in jeopardy and try to get the license number for any other vehicle involved.
Emergency services such as ambulance service (SAMU) exist in Abidjan and larger towns.
Call 185 or 22-44-55-53.
In smaller towns there is usually no ambulance service available, but ambulances will be dispatched from larger towns
Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the Government of Cote d'Ivoire’s Civil Aviation Authority as not being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for the oversight of Cote d'Ivoire's air carrier operations.
For more information, travelers may visit the FAA’s internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/safety/programs_initiatives/oversight/iasa.
Ivorian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes.
ATA Carnet Headquarters, at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States.
For additional information, call (212) 354-4480, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit http://www.uscib.org.
If traveling to another West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) country, expatriate residents leaving Cote d’Ivoire must declare the amount of currency being taken out of the country; if going to any other country, tourists are prohibited from taking more than 500,000 CFA francs (approximately $1,000), and business operators two million CFA francs (approximately $4,000), without government approval.
Even with authorization, there is a cash limit of $4,000 for tourists and $5,500 for business people, with any surplus in travelers or bank checks.
Travelers should carry a photocopy of your U.S. passport, visa, and entry stamps.
Travelers should also, carry their international driver's licenses if planning to drive.
Government corruption remains a serious problem in Cote d'Ivoire, and has an impact on judicial proceedings, contract awards, customs, and tax issues.
Security forces (police, military, gendarmes) routinely stop vehicles for traffic violations and security checks. Travelers should politely present identification if stopped.
Travelers who are stopped at one of these check points for any reason and asked to pay a "fine" to these uniformed officials, should politely refuse and present a photocopy of their U.S. passport, visa, and entry stamp.
Taking pictures is prohibited near sensitive installations, including military sites, government buildings such as the radio and television stations, the Presidency building, the airport, and the DeGaulle and Houphouet-Boigny bridges in Abidjan.
Cote d’Ivoire recognizes dual nationality if acquired at birth.
Americans who also are Ivorian nationals may be subject, while in Côte d'Ivoire, to certain aspects of Ivorian law that impose special obligations on citizens of that country.
Please see our information on Customs Regulations.
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law.
Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses.
Persons violating Cote d'Ivoire's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Cote d'Ivoire are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime, prosecutable in the United States.
Please see our information Criminal Penalties.
For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, see the Office of Children’s Issues web site.
REGISTRATION / EMBASSY LOCATION:
Americans living or traveling in Cote d'Ivoire are urged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department’s travel registration website and to obtain updated information on travel and security within Cote d’Ivoire.
Americans withoutInternet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.
The U.S. Embassy is located in the Riviera Golf neighborhood of the Cocody section of Abidjan, east of the downtown area.
The Embassy's postal address is 01 B.P. 1712 Abidjan 01, and the main telephone number is 22-49-40-00.
The Consular Section fax number is 22-49-42-02, and more information is on the Consular pages of the Embassy's web site at http://Abidjan.usembassy.gov/
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated November 21, 2006, with no major changes.
Travel News Headlines WORLD NEWS
Abidjan, Oct 9, 2018 (AFP) - Nearly 400 tonnes of fake medicines have been seized over two years in Ivory Coast, whose main city Abidjan is a West African haven for counterfeit drugs, the health ministry said Tuesday. Counterfeit medicine is the scourge of Africa and the cause of around 100,000 deaths annually on the world's poorest continent, according to the World Health Organization. "In the course of the last two years, 385 tonnes of fake medicines -- representing a financial loss of 152 million euros ($173 million) for the pharmaceutical industry -- were seized," said Able Ekissi, an inspector in the ministry. "In Ivory Coast, 30 to 40 percent of medicines are bought off the streets. They are reputed to be cheaper and at best they are ineffective and at worst toxic, causing death," said Abderrahmane Chakibi, the managing director of French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi for sub-Saharan Africa.
The illicit sector has a turnover of at least 10 percent of the world pharmaceutical business, meaning that it earns tens of billions of dollars a year, the Switzerland-based World Economic Forum estimates, adding that the figure has nearly tripled in five years. The WHO estimates that one out of 10 medicines in the world is fake but the figure can be as high as seven out of 10 in certain countries, especially in Africa. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene estimated in 2015 that 122,000 children under five died due to taking poor-quality antimalarials in sub-Saharan Africa, which, along with antibiotics as the two most in-demand, are the medicines most likely to be out-of-date or bad copies.
Abidjan, June 21, 2018 (AFP) - Ivory Coast's government on Thursday called for the evacuation of all people living in flood-prone zones in Abidjan, the country's economic hub, after 18 were killed by flash floods triggered by torrential rain. After a national security council meeting headed by President Alassane Ouattara, the government announced "the destruction of structures on storm basins and drainage and sanitation work" and "the evacuation of all people living in risk zones."
The statement, read on nationwide TV by Interior Minister Sidiki Diakite, did not say how many people would be affected by these measures or where they would be rehoused. Floods to 2.5 metres (more than eight feet) deep raced through some areas on Tuesday as Abidjan was hit by seven hours of exceptional rain.
The affected areas ranged from the posh Cocody neighbourhood, where many embassies and the presidential palace are located, to the teeming working-class Yopougon neighbourhood. A coastal city of five million, Abidjan suffers from some severe infrastructure problems, including drainage and sewerage.
Many homes are informal structures built in flood-prone areas, and deaths are common in the April-to-October rainy season. Twenty-eight people were killed on May 29, 1996. In addition to the 18 deaths in Abidjan, two other people died in flooding in the provinces. The authorities also said 1,650 troops would be deployed to help clear debris and unclog drains, and two billion CFA francs($3.4 million, three million euros) would be earmarked to help victims. It also said that efforts would be stepped up to inform the public about flood risk, including weather alerts on the media and by mobile phone.
Abidjan, June 19, 2018 (AFP) - Flooding caused by overnight torrential rain killed 18 people in Ivory Coast's economic capital Abidjan, the interior ministry said on Tuesday. The downpour which started at 11:00 pm on Monday continued until 6:00 am on Tuesday, causing flash floods up to 2.5 metres (more than eight feet) deep. Rescue teams saved 136 people, two people were hospitalised, and searches were under way for other casualties, he said, adding that emergency medical centres had been set up across the seaside city.
A city of five million, Abidjan suffers from infrastructure problems and many homes are built in flood-prone areas. The affected areas ranged from the posh Cocody neighbourhood, where many embassies and the presidential palace are located, to the teeming working-class Yopougon neighbourhood. "Many residents are perched on the roofs of their homes," Fiacre Kili, the head of the civil protection agency said. In Cocody and neighbouring Riviera, several homes were flooded and boundary walls toppled, with many cars washed away from driveways, an AFP correspondent said. "I have never seen anything like this in my life," said a resident, whose car was swept 600 metres from the house.
- 'We lost everything' -
"I was sleeping upstairs. My friend who was next to me woke me up saying 'Get up, there's water'. I looked out of the window and saw cars and furniture being swept away on the streets," said Ismael Oulata, a fitness coach. "Then the water started coming up the stairs." Machines in the gym downstairs were out of commission and an adjoining hairdressing salon was smeared with mud. "We lost everything," said a pizzeria owner called Sabine, who declined to give her surname. "When we came this morning we found all the freezers toppled and all the products were spoilt. Our five delivery scooters were damaged." Ivory Coast's rainy season extends from April to October and rainfall is more abundant on the coast. Every year, flash flooding claims several lives. Torrential rains on May 29, 1996 killed 28 people in Abidjan.
By Ladji Abou Sanogo in Bouake and David Esnault in Abidjan
Bouake, Ivory Coast, April 26, 2018 (AFP) - Earlier this year, Cape Town grabbed the world's headlines as it careened towards a water Armageddon. Crippled by a three-year-long drought, the South African city braced for a complete shutdown of domestic water supplies. In the event, Cape Town dodged the immediate bullet. But thousands of kilometres (miles) away, another African city has had far less luck -- and much less attention for its ordeal. "We haven't had a drop from our taps for three weeks," said a resident of Bouake, Ivory Coast's second largest city, while she awaited her turn to draw water from from a well. "The situation is catastrophic," said an employee of the state-run water distribution company, Sodeci, who asked not to be named.
Located in grassy savanna around 400 kilometres (250 miles) from the Ivorian economic capital of Abidjan, Bouake is a city of more than half million souls, with a million more in surrounding territory. The area has been hit by a double whammy. The dammed lake that supplies 70 percent of the city's water has run dry.
One factor is an unprecedented drought that has gripped the region -- a phenomenon in line with expert warnings about climate change. But another, says the territory's director for water affairs, Seydou Coulibaly, is the impact of unregulated sand quarrying, which has altered the course of waterways feeding the reservoir. "We are struggling to get clean water for drinking and cooking," computer technician Eliezer Konan told AFP. "Washing has become difficult. It's a real ordeal."
In a bid to bring some relief, the city has begun drilling wells to obtain fresh water. "We have finished a first operation and we'll be moving on to the second site in two to three hours," Hassane Cousteau Cissoko, director of the drilling firm Foraci, said last Thursday in the Houphouetville district. In all, 10 wells will be linked by pipes to a Sodeci water tower, which will then be able to distribute two million litres (more than half a million gallons) of water per day. This will "relieve the population" but is far from enough to replace the usual supply from the Loka dam, Cissoko said.
- 'Praying to God' -
For now, Bouake hospital is being supplied by tanker trucks, along with the city's two prisons and the university campuses. Heavy rain fell one night last week, to the joy of many. "We collected lots of water that night. The heavy rain allowed us to fill all our receptacles," said Awa Coulibaly in the Belle Ville 1 district. "But once we've used up this hoard, what's going to happen then? We should go on praying to God for rain every day." In the Sokoura district, the owner of a car wash made the most of the downpour, selling jerrycans of 20 litres of water for 500 CFA francs (0.76 euro or $0.93) apiece. He was swiftly overwhelmed.
No rain has fallen since, but in any event rainwater and tanks "are insufficient", said another resident, Mariam Konate. "The government must deal with this problem head on." Some people, however, long ago started to take precautionary measures. Aramata Toure, who sells vegetables in Dar-Es-Salam 1 district, has dug her own water supply. "Around here, it's the well water that we use, along with our neighbours," she said. But that is not a long-term solution for everybody. "Even the wells start to dry up when lots of people rush for water," said Amoin Konan of the Ahougnanssou district.
World Travel News Headlines
By Ron LOPEZ
Porac, Philippines, April 23, 2019 (AFP) - Philippine rescuers raced Tuesday to reach some two dozen people still feared buried under a building near Manila that collapsed a day earlier in a deadly earthquake, as a powerful second tremor hit the nation. The US Geological Survey put the second quake -- on the central island of Samar -- at 6.4 magnitude, stronger than the one that wrought significant damage Monday near the capital in the north.
The latest quake sent terrified locals fleeing into the streets, with images on social media showing cracked roads, crumbling church walls and shattered glass. "No one started crying, but of course some panicked because it was really strong," said Rey Estrobo, a supervisor at a hotel in Borongan town, near the epicentre. At the same time, the toll in Monday's quake rose to 16, with most of the fatalities in the worst-hit northern province of Pampanga, national disaster officials said. More than 100 others were injured by falling rubble on Monday, including in Manila, according to police.
However, initial reports indicated relatively minor destruction in Samar given the strength of Tuesday's quake, which could be down to differences in ground composition. "The damage is more pronounced if the houses and buildings are built on a foundation of soft soil," seismologist Myla Advincula told AFP, referring to Pampanga's soft sediment. "It enhances the shaking effect."
Scores of rescuers in the northern town of Porac spent Tuesday using cranes and jackhammers to peel back the pancaked concrete structure of a four-storey market building where the Red Cross said 24 people were unaccounted for. "Every minute, every second is critical in this rescue," Cris Palcis, a volunteer rescue dog handler, told AFP. "Time is short for the people under the rubble so we have to be quick."
Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda told journalists that rescuers could still hear at least one person trapped beneath the rubble, but the digging was proceeding delicately to avoid accidentally crushing the survivor. Rogelio Pacelo was shopping with his wife and child when the market building collapsed around them, but they incredibly made it out almost without a scratch. "I thought this only happens in movies. I thought that was the end of the world, it's our end," he told journalists. "I looked for a way out." The quake also damaged several centuries-old churches which were crowded with worshippers in recent days as the majority-Catholic Philippines marked the Easter holiday.
- 'Ring of Fire' -
Father Roland Moraleja, who is based in Porac, said the 18th-century belfry of the Saint Catherine of Alexandria church collapsed in the quake. "It was the only part left from the old church," he told AFP. "The historical value is now gone, but we are hopeful that it will rise again." High-rise buildings in the capital swayed after the tremor struck Monday evening, leaving some with large cracks in their walls.
Thousands of travellers were stranded after aviation authorities shut down the secondary Clark Airport, which is located on the site of the former US military installation that lies about an hour's drive north of the capital. It was still closed on Tuesday as officials assessed the heavy damage to the terminal building and some cracking on the air traffic control tower.
The quake was centred on the town of Castillejos, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) northwest of Manila, local geologists said. Seismologists put Monday's tremor at 6.3 initially, but subsequently downgraded it to a 6.1 magnitude. The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire", an arc of intense seismic activity that stretches from quake-prone Japan through Southeast Asia and across the Pacific basin.
Johannesburg, April 23, 2019 (AFP) - At least five people died early Tuesday in South Africa's coastal city of Durban after torrential rains triggered mudslides that crushed homes, emergency services said. Among those killed were a six-month-old baby, a child of about 10 and two adults. "Torrential rains damaged peoples houses (and) there were mudslides," Garrith Jamieson, spokesman for Rescue Care, told AFP.
"I can confirm five (deaths) but there are many more casualties," he said, adding there were unconfirmed reports of "multiple" deaths in other parts of the KwaZulu-Natal province. Victims were either crushed to death by the mudslides or drowned in flood waters. It was not immediately clear how many people were missing, but search and rescue operations continued on Tuesday.
Downpours have caused flooding in the southern and eastern parts of the country. The military has been dispatched to help in rescue and evacuation efforts in some of the affected areas. The South African Weather Services warned that more heavy rain was expected until Wednesday which could lead to more flooding and pose a threat to low-lying bridges and roads.
Colombo, April 23, 2019 (AFP) - The toll from a string of deadly suicide bomb attacks in Sri Lanka has risen to 310, with several people dying of their injuries overnight, a police spokesman said Tuesday. Around 500 people were wounded in the blasts, Ruwan Gunasekera said in a statement. He added that 40 people were now under arrest in connection with the attacks, which Sri Lanka's government has blamed on a previously little-known local Islamist group, National Thowheeth Jama'ath.
Melbourne, April 22, 2019 (AFP) - A father and son lifesaving team drowned while trying to save a tourist swept out to sea near one of Australia's most famous sights off the south coast, officials said Monday. Ross Powell, 71, and his son Andrew, 32, died on Sunday after their lifesaving boat overturned in the surf during the rescue of a 30-year-old man near the Twelve Apostles, a set of 12 limestone stacks off the Victoria state coast.
The tourist, whose nationality or name has not been released, had been wading at the mouth of a river when he got into trouble. He was winched from the water alongside a third lifesaver from the boat, who was seriously injured, by a rescue helicopter and taken to hospital, Victoria Police said. The bodies of the Campbells were found in the water shortly after. The tragedy has rocked the small tourist town of Port Campbell where the two men came from, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison leading the tributes. "Surf lifesavers are selfless & brave. We thank them all for their service & extend our deepest sympathies to Ross & Andrew's family & friends," Morrison tweeted Monday.
Surf Lifesaving Victoria president Paul James hailed the pair as heroes, and said the conditions had been rough and "not the place to be swimming". "It's just terrible, it's heart-breaking," he told reporters in an emotional press conference of the death of the dairy farmers and experienced volunteer lifesavers. "I understand the boat was operating in a two-metre (6.5 feet) swell, so a very high swell, and we know that it is very treacherous down there... These brave people, these heroes, have gone out to try and help." Amber Griffiths, the partner of Andrew Campbell and who local media reported was pregnant with their second child, wrote about her heartbreak on Facebook. "Today we lost two of the most beautiful people to ever exist -- always putting others first," she wrote. "The love of my life, light of my life, father of my baby girl. My heart is broken. I miss you Andrew Powell."
Australia's beaches are among the island continent's biggest tourist drawcards, but can have strong rips and tides. Swimmers are advised to keep between areas bounded by flags and patrolled by lifesavers. The area where the tourist was rescued is near high cliffs and said to have wild and treacherous seas. The Twelve Apostles are giant rock stacks of varying heights in the Southern Ocean which began forming 20 million years ago when erosion gradually began whittling away the limestone cliffs of Port Campbell.
Montreal, April 21, 2019 (AFP) - Flooding in eastern Canada forced the evacuation of more than 1,500 people while over 600 troops have been deployed in response, authorities said Sunday. Warming weather over the Easter weekend has brought spring floods due to heavy rains and snowmelt from Ontario to southern Quebec and New Brunswick.
Authorities, who initially feared a repeat of catastrophic 2017 floods in Quebec, the worst in half a century, appeared more confident about the situation on Sunday. "We are optimistic about the coming days," civil security spokesman Eric Houde told AFP. "There will be significant floods but overall not at the level of 2017, except in certain areas like Lake St Pierre," a widening of the St Lawrence River in Quebec, he added. "The big difference from 2017 is the level of preparation of municipalities and citizens."
Over the past several days, towns have mobilized volunteers and distributed hundreds of thousands of sandbags to erect barriers or protect houses in threatened areas. The areas most affected were around Ottawa, and Beauce, a region south of Quebec City where nearly 800 people were evacuated. More than 1,200 homes had been affected by the flooding in Quebec by late Sunday.
The provincial governments of Quebec and New Brunswick asked for reinforcements from the military. About 200 soldiers had deployed in Quebec by late Saturday, and 400 others near Ottawa, in Laval north of Montreal and in Trois-Rivieres between Montreal and Quebec City. About 120 additional soldiers stood at the ready to be mobilized in New Brunswick. On Saturday, the flooding claimed its first victim in the municipality of Pontiac, west of Ottawa: a man in his seventies who did not see that a bridge had been washed away, and plunged his car into the stream below.
Montreal, April 21, 2019 (AFP) - The bodies of three world-renowned professional mountaineers -- two Austrians and an American -- were found Sunday after they went missing during an avalanche on a western Canadian summit, the national parks agency said. American Jess Roskelley, 36, and Hansjorg Auer, 35, and David Lama, 28, of Austria went missing late Tuesday at Banff National Park. Authorities launched an aerial search the next day. The three men were attempting to climb the east face of Howse Pass, an isolated and highly difficult route.
They were part of a team of experienced athletes sponsored by American outdoor equipment firm The North Face. "Parks Canada extends our sincere condolences to their families, friends and loved ones," the agency said in a statement. "We would also like to acknowledge the impact that this has had on the tight-knit, local and international climbing communities. Our thoughts are with families, friends and all those who have been affected by this tragic incident."
Roskelley was the son of John Roskelley, who was also considered one of the best mountaineers of his own generation. Father and son had climbed Mount Everest together in 2003. At the time, the younger Roskelley was only 20 years old, and became the youngest mountaineer to climb the planet's highest mountain above sea level. Auer and Lama, from Tyrol in Austria, were also considered among the best mountaineers of the times.
Kano, Nigeria, April 21, 2019 (AFP) - Two people including a British aid worker have been shot dead and four tourists abducted in an attack by armed gunmen on a holiday resort in north-western Nigeria, police said on Sunday. Police and aid agency Mercy Corps named the dead woman as Faye Mooney. "Faye was a dedicated and passionate communications and learning specialist", Chief executive Neal Keny-Guyer said in a statement posted on social media, adding that colleagues were "utterly heartbroken". Mooney had "worked with Mercy Corps for almost two years, devoting her time to making a difference in Nigeria", Keny-Guyer added.
Gunmen stormed the Kajuru Castle resort, 60 kilometres (40 miles) southeast of Kaduna City at 11.40 pm (2240 GMT) on Friday, Kaduna state police spokesman Yakubu Sabo told reporters. The Briton "was gunned down from the hill by the kidnappers who tried to gain entrance into the castle but failed", Sabo said. "They took away about five other locals but one person escaped," he said. A Nigerian man believed by local residents in Kajuru to be Mooney's partner was also killed in the attack on the resort where a group of 13 tourists had arrived from Lagos, southwest Nigeria the police spokesman said. In Kaduna and the wider northwest region, kidnapping for ransom has become an increasingly rampant, particularly on the road to the capital, Abuja, where armed attacks have thrived.
Kidnapping in Nigeria's oil-rich south, has long been a security challenge, where wealthy locals and expatriate workers are often abducted. Yet the problem has escalated in northern areas too, like Kaduna where criminal gangs made up of former cattle rustlers have been pushed into kidnapping after military crackdowns on cattle theft. Kajuru is also flash point in the deadly conflict over increasingly limited land resources in Africa's most populous country, between herders and farmers, predominantly across central and northern Nigeria. The conflict has increasingly taken on ethnic and religious dimensions in the region, with the Fulani Muslim herders in conflict with Christian Adara farmers in Kajuru.
Tourists are rarely affected by the herder-farmer violence and Kajuru Castle resort has attracted many foreign and local visitors. Yet police have struggled to thwart kidnappers in the region. The latest attack comes in a resort in northern Nigeria, particularly popular amongst foreign and well-to-do local tourists. In January four western tourists -- two Americans and two Canadians -- were also abducted in Kaduna by gunmen in an ambush in which two of their police escorts were killed. Earlier in April, recently re-elected President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered his most senior security chiefs to curb kidnapping in the region.
Lilongwe, Malawi, April 21, 2019 (AFP) - Three people died after a landslide hit a village in the Rumphi district in northern Malawi, with at least five still missing Sunday and many others injured and hospitalised. Rumphi police spokesperson Tupeliwe Kabwilo told AFP that incessant rains in the area led to the landslide early Saturday which washed away an entire village nestled between Mphompha Hills and Lake Malawi. Among the dead are two boys aged 12 and 15 and a 35-year-old woman, according to police. The missing persons, who are feared dead, include a one-year-old boy, two other boys aged six and 10 as well as two women aged 35 and 46.
A Rumphi district council official who was at the scene of the disaster told AFP that the affected area was inaccessible by road and it would be impossible to mount a rescue operation. "Huge boulders rolled from the mountain and these are the ones that cause the biggest damage and if the missing victims are buried under these rocks, then we will need an excavator to move them." said council official Wakisa Mtete. "But there is no access by road to the area so this is an impossible task. The boulders are so big that moving them by hand is not possible," Mtete said. He added that it was also possible for some of the missing bodies to have been washed into the lake, in which case the bodies would resurface within the next two days.
Disaster management officer Alufeyo Mhango told AFP that government ministries were preparing to step in to transport heavy duty excavation equipment over the lake as soon as the weather cleared. "We have been informed by government ministries that we should get ready to transport the equipment. But this will depend on whether we get a large boat for that and on whether the hailstorm stops because there could be a recurrence of the landslide," he said. According to Mhango, Police officers, soldiers and emergency personnel are on site attending to the disaster.
Butembo, DR Congo, April 20, 2019 (AFP) - The DR Congo army fought off an attack on a hospital by a rebel group, killing one militiaman, police said Saturday, in the latest assault on medical staff trying to rein in an Ebola outbreak in the east of the country. Armed rebels from the Mai-Mai militia attacked Katwa hospital near the city of Butembo at around 3.40 am (0140 GMT), officers told AFP. "We have resisted and repelled the attack even though these 'Mai-Mai' had a PKM machine gun," said Butembo police chief Colonel Paul Ngoma. He said one rebel was killed and four captured. The attack came a day after a WHO doctor, Richard Valery Mouzoko Kiboung, was shot dead in an assault by armed militiamen on Butembo University Hospital, according to the World Health Organization. The WHO said the epidemiologist had been deployed to help combat Ebola in the region.
The attacks are the latest in a string of assaults on teams grappling with a near nine-month-old Ebola outbreak that has claimed almost 850 lives. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday condemned the Butembo University Hospital attack and called on Congolese authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice. DR Congo declared its tenth outbreak of Ebola last August, in north-eastern North Kivu province, before the virus spread into the neighbouring Ituri region. Local organisations have said the number of Ebola deaths is rising. An updated toll by the health ministry, issued on Wednesday, said there had been 843 deaths since August.
WHO data from April 9 put the number of confirmed or probable cases at 1,186, of which 751 had been fatal. The outbreak is the second deadliest on record, after the epidemic that struck West Africa in 2014-16, which killed more than 11,300 people. Efforts to roll back the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever in DRC have been hampered by fighting but also by resistance within communities to preventative measures, care facilities and safe burials. On March 9, an attack on a treatment centre at Butembo left a policeman dead and a health worker wounded. It was the third attack on that centre. On February 24, a treatment centre in Katwa was set ablaze.
Khokha, Yemen, April 19, 2019 (AFP) - Oxfam has warned that war-torn Yemen risks a "massive resurgence" of cholera, with around 195,000 suspected cases of the disease recorded so far this year. "Fears that the world's worst cholera outbreak could be set for a massive resurgence are growing," the relief organisation said Thursday. It said aid agencies were struggling to reach suspected cases.
In a statement, Oxfam pointed to "fighting and restraints on access, including checkpoints and permit requirements imposed by the warring parties", and warned the coming rainy season was likely to accelerate the spread of the disease. The water-borne bacterial infection has claimed more than 3,000 lives in Yemen since the outbreak began in 2016, according to Oxfam.
At a medical centre for the displaced in the government-held western town of Khokha, Qassem Suleiman had brought his son Alaa for tests after a serious case of diarrhoea. Doctor Wadah al-Tiri told AFP that several patients had been transferred to Aden while others had been treated at the Khokha centre. He said a tent was to be set up for suspected cases.
The doctor said Yemen badly needed international aid to combat the epidemic. The UN's humanitarian coordination office OCHA said last month that children under the age of five make up nearly a third of this year's cases. The spike, which comes two years after Yemen suffered its worst cholera outbreak, was concentrated in six governorates including in the Red Sea port of Hodeida and Sanaa province, both combat zones, it said.
Yemen's conflict, which pits Iran-linked rebels against a regional pro-government alliance led by Saudi Arabia, has left some 10,000 people dead since 2015 and pushed millions to the brink of famine. Aid groups say the actual death toll could be five times as high. The war has created the perfect environment for cholera to thrive, as civilians across the country lack access to clean water and health care.