COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Somalia is a developing country in the Horn of Africa. It has had no government since the onset of civil war in 1991. That year, the northwest part of the country proclaimed itself the Republic of Somaliland, and it now has its own governing authority, although its economy is linked with the rest of the country. However, Somaliland has not received international recognition as an independent state. The northeastern section of Somalia, which is semi-autonomous, is known as Puntland. Somalia 's economy was seriously damaged by the civil war and its aftermath, but the private sector is trying to reemerge. Tourism facilities are non-existent. The capital of Somalia is Mogadishu. The principal city of Somaliland is Hargeisa. Other cities and towns of importance include the ports of Bosasso in Puntland, Berbera in Somaliland, and Kismayu in the South, Baidoa, and Garowe.
SECURITY AND SAFETY ^
Since the U.S. does not have an Embassy or any other diplomatic presence in Somalia, the U.S. government cannot provide services to U.S. citizens in Somalia.
Somaliland has experienced a level of stability that has not been present in other parts of Somalia. However, travelers should always check current conditions in Somaliland before traveling. There were s everal fatal attacks against international relief workers, including Westerners, throughout Somalia and Somaliland in late 2003 and early 2004. Additionally, there have been recent threats against Westerners in Somalia, including Somaliland, and all visitors are urged to restrict their movements in the region. Persons traveling to or through this area should also be aware that incidents such as armed banditry and road assaults may occur. Civil unrest persists in the rest of the country.
With the exception of Somaliland, crime is an extension of the general state of insecurity. Serious and violent crimes are very common. Kidnapping and robbery are a particular problem in Mogadishu and other areas of the south.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
There is no organized system of criminal justice in Somalia nor uniform application of due process. Enforcement of criminal laws is haphazard.
Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the U.S., for U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens to exploit children sexually via pornography, the Internet or other means or to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a person under the age of 18 in a foreign country, regardless of whether there was intent.
MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical facilities in Somalia are extremely limited. Travelers should carry personal supplies of medications with them.
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 Somalia is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance:
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: None
There are no traffic lights in the country except in Hargeisa in Somaliland. The poor condition of most roads makes driving difficult. Night driving can be dangerous due to the absence of lighting.
AIR TRAVEL ^
There is limited commercial air travel to Hargeisa, Mogadishu, Galcayo, and Bosasso from Addis Ababa, Nairobi, and Dubai. The United Nations and the European Commission have daily humanitarian flights from Nairobi to Somalia.
As there is no direct commercial air service between the U.S. and Somalia by local carriers at present, or economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Somalia 's compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the U.S. Department of Transportation within the United States at
tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (618) 229-4801.
Water and electricity systems are poor. A functioning telecommunications system exists in major towns in Somalia.
Please also refer to the separate
Travel Warning for Somalia and to the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.
June 25, 2004
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