News Watch

American citizens are urged not to travel to the separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia and to be aware that the potential exists for gunfire, increased risk of crime and ongoing potential for violence in these and adjacent areas. Travel in some parts of western Georgia remains unpredictable.

The Department of State warns of the risks of traveling to the Central African Republic (CAR) and recommends against all but essential travel outside the capital, Bangui. Avoid travel to northwestern and northern CAR, particularly the areas bordering Chad, due to banditry and, despite peace accords signed in December 2008, clashes between government and rebel forces. 

The embassy recommends that Americans traveling outside the capital not travel with an armed escort, as such may cause...


The Tibet Autonomous Region, which was closed to tourists on Feb. 18, 2009, was reopened on April 5. Chinese authorities had declared a state of unofficial martial law, anticipating the 50th anniversary of the failed Tibetan rebellion which led to the Dalai Lama’s fleeing the country. Protests the previous year had spun out of control and resulted in at least 19 deaths and many injuries.

The State Department’s Travel Warning on Zimbabwe was canceled on April 8. Spokesman Robert Wood told reporters it was because of “a return of basic medical, food and fuel services to Zimbabwe….” 

Targeted sanctions that include financial and visa restrictions as well as a ban of transfers of military aid will remain in place.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama, the leader of Fiji since a 2006 military coup, has imposed a state of emergency in that country.

Following a court ruling on April 9 that his government is illegal, Bainimarama fired the judges, abolished the constitution and removed foreign journalists and is now censoring domestic news. He says elections will be held in 2014 after the constitution is rewritten. The State Department advises visitors that although the country is calm on the surface, the...


At press time, the World Health Organization had raised the alert level of the fast-spreading H1N1 “swine flu” from phase 4 to 5 out of a possible 6 alert levels. Phase 5 indicates that human-to-human transmission of the virus is confirmed in at least two countries. WHO advised that all countries put their preparations for a pandemic into effect.

Twenty countries confirmed cases of H1N1 as of May 4. In Mexico, the country with the most suspected cases (727), 26 were believed to have...


Since early 2009, several areas in Australia have reported an increase in cases of pertussis. As of April 13, more than 7,000 cases had been reported across the country. Pertussis (also known as “whooping cough”) is a vaccine-preventable, highly contagious respiratory illness that is caused by bacteria. 

In the Galápagos Islands, La Cumbre Volcano erupted on Fernandina, an uninhabited island, April 15-16. Gas and steam plumes as well as lava flows were sighted, and there were reports of dead fish and sea lions.

The most active volcano in the archipelago, La Cumbre is known to have erupted 12 times since 1813, the last time in 2005.