News Watch

While Lebanon enjoys periods of relative calm, the Department of State warns that the potential for a spontaneous upsurge in violence there is real and the threat of anti-Western terrorist activity exists. Access to borders and ports can be interrupted with little or no warning. Land mines and unexploded ordnance pose dangers throughout southern Lebanon.

In southern Brazil, the states of Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo have recently designated expanded areas of risk for yellow fever. Many states recommend yellow fever vaccination for travelers.

As of mid-April, a dengue fever epidemic had struck thousands of people in the states of Rio Grande do Sol, Bolivia; Chaco, Argentina, and Bahia, Brazil.

As ITN went to press, the State Department had travel warnings on 29 destinations: Nepal, Lebanon, Yemen, Georgia, Sudan, Central African Republic, Colombia, Madagascar, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Pakistan, Eritrea, Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Philippines, Israel/West Bank/Gaza, Burundi, Sri Lanka, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Nepal, Somalia, Chad, Kenya, Iran, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Iraq. 

For details, call the State Department at 202/647-5225 or visit http:// travel....


The Abruzzo region of Italy suffered a devastating 6.3-magnitude earthquake on April 6, resulting in 289 deaths, tens of thousands homeless and thousands of buildings damaged. Worst hit were L’Aquila, a 13th-century mountain city about 70 miles northeast of Rome, and the surrounding villages; entire medieval towns were flattened.

Among landmark buildings damaged were the Basilica di Santa di Collemaggio and the dome of the Duomo of the Amine Sante in L’Aquila and, in a nearby town,...


In Sri Lanka, at press time, government forces had pushed the Tamil Tigers into a 10-square-kilometer area in the northeast, all that remains of the separate nation for which the Tamil minority group is fighting. Since 1983 more than 70,000 have been killed in this, Asia’s longest modern war.

In April, the Tigers’ proposals of a unilateral cease-fire were dismissed by officials in Colombo, who said the Tigers used previous cease-fires to rearm and that they must surrender.



• Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva declared a state of emergency in Bangkok and surrounding areas on April 12 after the antigovernment protests by “Red Shirt” supporters of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, ousted in 2006, grew more violent.

For 2½ weeks, the PM’s residence and the Government House had been besieged. Police and military forces were called in to restore order, and clashes between protestors and locals resulted in two deaths and more than 100 people...


Travel by boat through the Red Sea or near the Socotra Islands in the Gulf of Aden presents the risk of pirate attacks.

Since the beginning of 2009, 40 vessels reportedly have been attacked and 23 vessels seized in the area. In some cases, crew members were held for ransom. Following the April 2009 hijacking of a US cargo vessel and the subsequent rescue of the vessel’s captain, resulting in the deaths of three pirates, Somali pirates threatened to retaliate against American citizens...