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Tullioz

The US State Department Changes How it Issues Travel Advisories

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Tullioz

The US State Department has a new rating system for how dangerous countries are to visit.

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  • The State Department has announced a major change to how it issues travel advisories.
  • This is the first major change to the advisory system in more than a decade.
  • The change comes in response to ongoing confusion over the old system.

The US Department of State today announced a new system for issuing travel advisories to Americans. Under the new system, every country in the world will have a standing advisory with a numerical level, ranging from 1 to 4, to indicate whether there are any safety concerns. If a country is ranked at a level two — "exercise increased caution" — or above, the score will be accompanied by a reason for the increased risk.

The change comes in response to persistent general confusion over the meaning of warnings issued under the previous system, according to a State Department spokesperson. Under that system, the department would issue either a "travel alert" or a "travel warning" when it deemed prudent, which generally included a briefing as to the reason.

But, the difference between the two types of advisory was not always clear. While alerts were generally shorter-term or related to specific events, and warnings were intended to be stronger, the new system is designed to provide additional clarity and guidance.

The levels are as follows, as described in a fact sheet shared by the State Department:

Level 1 - Exercise Normal Precautions: This is the lowest advisory level for safety and security risk. There is some risk in any international travel.  Conditions in other countries may differ from those in the United States and may change at any time. 

Level 2 - Exercise Increased Caution: Be aware of heightened risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.  Conditions in any country may change at any time. 

Level 3 - Reconsider Travel: Avoid travel due to serious risks to safety and security. The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory.  Conditions in any country may change at any time. 

Level 4 - Do Not Travel: This is the highest advisory level due to greater likelihood of life-threatening risks. During an emergency, the U.S. government may have very limited ability to provide assistance.  The Department of State advises that U.S. citizens not travel to the country or leave as soon as it is safe to do so.  The Department of State provides additional advice for travelers in these areas in the Travel Advisory. Conditions in any country may change at any time.

To check each country's level, you can visit a newly updated State Department Travel Advisory website. There's also a color-coordinated map that you can browse.

Some examples of countries listed at level two at the time of publication include Mexico, due to crime in certain areas, and the United Kingdom, due to elevated risks of terrorism. Level three countries include Russia, due to civil unrest in certain areas, and Venezuela, due to crime and a limited ability of the US to provide assistance to citizens. Level four countries include Iraq, Iran, and Libya.

http://www.businessinsider.com/state-department-revamps-travel-advisory-system-2018-1

Link to map:   https://travelmaps.state.gov/TSGMap/?extent=-0.879381859,47.401628436,20.397707357,54.42135931

In the State Department's latest update the Philippines falls under level 2. 

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Philippines – Level 2: Exercise increased caution

Exercise increased caution in the Philippines due to crime, terrorism, and civil unrest. 

Do not travel to:

  • The Sulu Archipelago, including the southern Sulu Sea, due to crime, terrorism, and civil unrest.
  • Marawi City in Mindanao due to terrorism and civil unrest.

Reconsider travel to:

Other areas of Mindanao due to crime, terrorism, and civil unrest.

Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting possible kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks in the Philippines. Terrorist and armed groups may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. The Philippine government has declared a “State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao.” 

If you decide to travel to the Philippines:

  • Monitor local media for breaking events and adjust your plans based on new information.
  • Avoid demonstrations. 
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for the Philippines.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

The Sulu Archipelago and Sulu Sea

Terrorist and armed groups kidnap U.S. citizens on land and at sea for ransom.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Sulu Archipelago and Sulu Sea as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to those areas. 

Marawi City in Mindanao

The Philippine government has declared martial law throughout the Mindanao region. Civilians are at risk of death or injury due to conflict between remnants of terrorist groups and Philippine security forces in Marawi. 

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Mindanao as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel there.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Mindanao

The Philippine government has declared martial law throughout the Mindanao region. The Philippine government also maintains a state of emergency and greater police presence in the Cotabato City area, and in the Maguindanao, North Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat provinces. 

Terrorist and armed groups continue to conduct kidnappings, bombings, and other attacks targeting U.S. citizens, foreigners, civilians, local government institutions, and security forces. 

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Mindanao as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel there.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/traveladvisories/philippines-travel-advisory.html

 

Edited by Tullioz

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