Libya Travel Warning
December 12, 2013
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to Libya and strongly advises against all but essential travel to Tripoli and against all travel to areas outsideof Tripoli. Because of ongoing instability and violence, the Department's ability to provide consular services to U.S. citizens within Tripoliis extremely limited, and the Department cannot provide consular services outside Tripoli except by telephone. The U.S. Embassy in Libya remains an unaccompanied post due to security concerns. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning dated June 7, 2013.
The Libyan government is still working to rebuild its military and police forces and improve security following the 2011 revolution. The security situation remains unpredictable and unstable. Many military-grade weapons remain in the hands of private individuals, including antiaircraft weapons that may be used against civilian aviation. Crime levels remain high in many parts of the country. In addition to the threat of crime, various groups have called for attacks against U.S. citizens and U.S. interests in Libya. For instance, in October and December 2013, extremist groups in Libya made specific threats against U.S. government officials and U.S. non-governmental organizations (NGOs) operating in Libya. Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted by extremist groups seeking to injure or kill U.S. citizens, and should act accordingly with extreme caution. In addition, on December 5, 2013, a U.S. citizen teacher resident in Benghazi was killed in a drive-by shooting near his home.
Sporadic episodes of civil unrest have occurred throughout the country and attacks by armed militants can occur in many different areas; hotels frequented by westerners have been caught in the crossfire. On November 15, 2013, fighting between militias and protesters in Tripoli resulted in the deaths of approximately 50 people with hundreds more injured. Since that time, some militias have withdrawn from Tripoli. However, checkpoints controlled by militias are common outside of Tripoli and other urban areas have witnessed fighting between armed groups and government forces. Closures or threats of closures of the international airports occur regularly, for maintenance-, labor-, or security-related reasons.
U.S. citizens should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution if in the vicinity of any large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, as even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens traveling to or remaining in Libya should use caution and limit nonessential travel within the country, make their own contingency emergency plans, and maintain security awareness at all times.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Libya enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
The Embassy's website includes consular information and the most recent messages for U.S. citizens in Libya. U.S. citizens in need of emergency assistance should call 091-379-4560 within Libya or 218-91-379-4560 if dialing from outside of Libya.
For information on "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis," please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Emergencies and Crisis link. Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
For further information, U.S. citizens should consult the Department of State's Country Specific Information. Stay up to date by bookmarking our Bureau of Consular Affairs website, which contains the current Travel Warnings and Travel Alerts as well as the Worldwide Caution. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. You can also download our free Smart Traveler App, available through iTunes and Google play, to have travel information at your fingertips.