Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Eritrean National Day Advisory (May 22, 2015)

The U.S. Embassy Asmara informs U.S. citizens that over the next few days, the people of Eritrea will be celebrating their Independence Day, cumulating on Sunday, May 24th. While this time is generally festive, with a number of sponsored events and concerts, all U.S. citizens are reminded of the following:

  1. Roads leading to and within the downtown area will be closed at various periods of time. Roads can and will be closed unexpectedly. There will be a high concentration of both vehicular and pedestrian traffic in the downtown area. As a result, individuals are encouraged to avoid driving in this area.
  2. There are a large number of Eritreans who will be coming into Asmara from abroad or from other parts of Eritrea. Because of the national pride associated with Independence Day, and the strained bilateral relationship between the United States and Eritrea, all U.S. citizens are encouraged to maintain a low profile. This is particularly important when moving around areas where there may be people consuming alcohol. The enhanced feeling of national pride, combined with alcohol could result in hostility toward U.S. citizens.
  3. There are currently and will continue to be throughout the weekend a large police, militia and military presence in Asmara. We encourage people to be very vigilant and obey traffic laws when driving. As always, individuals should never drink and drive. There will likely be increased sobriety checkpoints throughout the city. Pedestrians should also be extremely vigilant for vehicles and those who might be driving while intoxicated.
  4. The Embassy reminds U.S. citizens to refrain from walking in dark, isolated areas. With a large number of people coming into Asmara, combined with festive celebrations, there is an increased chance of theft and robbery against both Eritreans and foreigners. The Embassy strongly advises against walking after midnight as well, particularly in areas with high bar concentrations, such as Expo Center.
  5. We remind individuals to remain vigilant. Eritrea’s Independence Day also falls within the same time frame as Ethiopia’s national elections. While there is currently no known indication that one will affect the other, we ask that people be cautious because of the history and current relationship between the two nations. ____________________________________________________________________For further information:
    • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Country Specific Information for Eritrea
    • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
    • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Asmara, located at Alaa Street 179, P.O. Box 211, Asmara, Eritrea at (291) 1-12-00-04, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is (291) 1-12-00-04.
    • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
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