SUDAN WATCH: Since Sep 13, Eritrean govt has interfered with delivery of U.S. Embassy’s diplomatic pouches - Washington warns against travel to Somalia and Eritrea

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Since Sep 13, Eritrean govt has interfered with delivery of U.S. Embassy’s diplomatic pouches - Washington warns against travel to Somalia and Eritrea

Thursday 20 November 2008 AFP report via Sudan Tribune - Washington warns against travel to Somalia and Eritrea:
November 19, 2008 (WASHINGTON) — The State Department issued yesterday a warning against travel to Somalia and Eritrea, following attacks in Somalia’s Puntland and Somaliland regions, and after the Eritrean government interfered with the delivery of U.S. diplomatic pouches.

"Kidnapping, murder, illegal roadblocks, banditry, and other violent incidents and threats to U.S. citizens and other foreigners can occur in many regions" in Somalia, the State Department said in a statement.

Five suicide car bombs ripped through key targets Oct. 29 in northern Somalia, including U.N. offices and a presidential palace, killing 19 people and the five bombers.

Noting that the U.S. has no diplomatic presence in the country, the statement said "U.S. citizens also are urged to use extreme caution when sailing near the coast of Somalia." A number of attacks and seizures by pirates have occurred in the waters off the Horn of Africa, "highlighting the continuing danger of maritime travel near the Horn of Africa," the State Department said.

In addition to unrest between rival political factions and clans in Somalia, the statement issued Saturday mentioned violent attacks in Mogadishu, border disputes in Somaliland, as well as kidnappings and attacks against international relief workers.

The State Department also warned against travel to Eritrea, noting that "since September 13, the government of Eritrea has repeatedly, and in violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, interfered with the unfettered delivery of the U.S. Embassy’s diplomatic pouches."

"Until this matter is resolved, the consular section of the U.S. Embassy has no choice but to suspend all non-emergency services." The U.S. Embassy in Asmara has been unable to receive "critical" materials and supplies such as U.S. passports, the statement said.

The State Department also noted heightened tensions along the country’s borders with Ethiopia and Djibouti and escalating tensions between Eritrea and Ethiopia.

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