The U.S. Department of State has issued a travel warning to all U.S. citizens against traveling to The Gambia because of the potential for civil unrest and violence in the near future.
The travel warning was issued on January 7, 2017, the Department of State ordered the departure of family members and authorized the departure of all employees who need to accompany those individuals from the country.
According to The Department of State, the security situation in The Gambia remains uncertain following December 1, 2016 presidential elections. On January 10, the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the current president’s petition contesting the election results, which is a potential flashpoint that could lead to civil unrest. The sitting government has begun taking restrictive measures, which include shutting down and restricting radio stations, and making politically motivated arrests. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stated it may intervene if the president does not step down by January 18.
U.S. citizens should consider departing on commercial flights and other transportation options now, as airports and ferry terminals may close unexpectedly in the event of unrest. All U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely on U.S. government assistance. U.S. citizens should ensure that travel documents (passports and visas) are valid and up-to-date. Consular services, already limited throughout the country due to very poor transportation infrastructure and security conditions, may be further limited, including in Banjul itself.
U.S. citizens who decide to remain in The Gambia should prepare for the possible deterioration of security:
- Exercise caution and remain abreast of the security situation.
- Follow the instructions of local authorities.
- Stay home or at another safe location.
- Have emergency supplies of food, water, and medications.
- Let friends and family know that there might be communication disruptions.