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Risk and Safety Updates
December 7, 2017

U.S. Embassy Advises Travelers to Avoid Worldwide Demonstrations

Travelers should be sure to avoid demonstrations related to the announcement that the US Embassy in Israel will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  Several U.S. Embassies, including those in Israel, Turkey and Jordan, have released security messages warning citizens to avoid these as these protest may become violent.  Demonstrations have been reported in cities across the world from Buenos Aires to Istanbul to cities throughout the Middle Eastern region.  Travelers should avoid areas where crowds have gathered or areas with increased police or military presence.

November 16, 2017

Department of State Alerts U.S. Citizens to Heightened Risk of Terrorist Attacks in Europe During the Holiday Season

The Department of State issued an alert for all travelers to Europe, reminding them of the heightened risk of terrorist attacks, particularly during the holiday season.  U.S. citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals and events.  This Travel Alert expires on January 31, 2018. 

According to the U.S. Department of State, "Recent, widely-reported incidents in France, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Finland demonstrate that the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS or Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, and their affiliates have the ability to plan and execute terrorist attacks in Europe. Last year, mass casualty attacks occurred at a Christmas market in Berlin, Germany in December and a nightclub in Istanbul, Turkey on New Year’s Eve. While local governments continue counterterrorism operations, the Department remains concerned about the potential for future terrorist attacks. U.S. citizens should always be alert to the possibility that terrorist sympathizers or self-radicalized extremists may conduct attacks with little or no warning."

The Department of State warns that terrorists focus on targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities as well as hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, high-profile events, educational institutions, airports, and other soft targets.  For more information, please see the alert available on the Department of State's website.


October 27, 2017

Heightened Security Measures for Travelers on International U.S. Bound Flights


The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced heightened security measures which may impact wait times for travelers who are flying back to the U.S. on international flights. U.S.-bound travelers may experience longer security lines, additional forms to fill out, short security interviews or more rigorous screening for electronic devices. These screening procedures may be experienced at check-in, at document review or at the boarding gate.  We are recommending all travelers arrive early to account for this potential for wait times.

For questions about new procedures, please contact the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).  For additional information about this, please also see the fact sheet available on DHS' website.
October 7, 2017

Mutual Suspension of Non-Immigrant Visa Services Between Turkey and the U.S.


As of Sunday, October 7, Turkey and the U.S. have mutually suspended issuance of non-immigrant Visas.  U.S. nationals already holding Turkish Visas and Turkish nationals already holding U.S. Visas should not be affected by this change.  However, we advise all travelers to these two countries to reconfirm travel plans and consult the appropriate consular office prior to travel.  For FAQ's about what this new guidance means for travel to Turkey, please read the New York Times article on this subject.
September 29, 2017

New U.S. Department of State Travel Warning to Cuba


The Department of State warns U.S. citizens not to travel to Cuba.  Over the past several months, numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees have been targeted in specific attacks. These employees have suffered significant injuries as a consequence of these attacks. Affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms including ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headache, fatigue, cognitive issues, and difficulty sleeping.

The Governments of the United States and Cuba have not yet identified the responsible party, but the Government of Cuba is responsible for taking all appropriate steps to prevent attacks on our diplomatic personnel and U.S. citizens in Cuba. Because our personnel's safety is at risk, and we are unable to identify the source of the attacks, we believe U.S. citizens may also be at risk and warn them not to travel to Cuba. Attacks have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and hotels frequented by U.S. citizens. On September 29, the Department ordered the departure of nonemergency U.S. government employees and their family members to protect the safety of our personnel.

Due to the drawdown in staff, the U.S. Embassy in Havana has limited ability to assist U.S. citizens. The Embassy will provide only emergency services to U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens in Cuba in need of emergency assistance should contact the Embassy by telephone at +(53)(7) 839-4100 or the Department of State at 1-202-501-4444. U.S. citizens should not attempt to go to the U.S. Embassy as it suffered severe flood damage during Hurricane Irma.  Travelers should apprise family and friends in the United States of their whereabouts, and keep in close contact with their travel agency and hotel staff.


For the full text of the U.S. Department of State Travel Warning, please click here.
May 27, 2017

Ramadan


The Muslim holy month of Ramadan began on Saturday, May 27 and will end on Sunday, June 24. During this time, more than 1.5 billion Muslims around the world will mark the month, during which believers abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and having martial relations from dawn until sunset. Non-Muslims are also expected to refrain from eating, drinking, or smoking in public during daylight hours, especially in more strictly observant countries. Travelers should restrict such activity to private spaces such as hotel rooms or areas that have been clearly designated for these purposes. Travelers in these areas should be mindful of customs and adhere to more conservative dress standards. Violations of Ramadan rules and laws can lead to arrest. 

International SOS, Tufts' medical and travel security risk services company, recommends the following Ramadan etiquette points for travelers to Muslim countries during Ramadan (https://www.internationalsos.com/newsroom/news-releases/advice-on-healthy-fasting-and-travel-etiquette-during-ramadan-jun-15-2015)
  1. Do not eat, drink or smoke in public – during fasting hours in most Muslim countries, it is considered impolite to have food, drink or cigarettes in public view. This also applies to travel on public transportation or in private cars. In countries like Egypt, abstinence from food and drink in public is a matter of courtesy, but in other countries such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman and the UAE, public observance of the fast is compulsory regardless of religion. Restaurants and cafes close during daylight hours, but most hotels offer room service and screened eating areas to non-Muslim visitors.  International SOS advises travellers to check local laws and customs pre-travel, to ensure a smooth trip. 
  2. Dress modestly – the Holy Month of Ramadan is a time of devoutness, modesty and moderation. Travellers should refrain from wearing revealing clothing out of respect to those observing Ramadan. This is particularly important when visiting malls, hotels and restaurants or Iftar tents in the evening. As a general rule, clothing that is sheer, too short, low-cut or tight-fitting should be avoided, particularly shorts, miniskirts and sleeveless tops. 
  3. Be mindful of workplace etiquette – business travellers to Muslim countries should respect the shorter office hours and work around them. When having business meetings with Muslims, it is best to schedule them in the morning when people are less tired and can better concentrate. It is also good to make sure that meetings do not occur over lunch, over-run or inconvenience fasting participants. While non-Muslims are permitted to eat and drink behind closed doors, they should avoid doing so in front of fasters and should instead excuse themselves to a more remote area of the office. If offered refreshments by a fasting Muslim, it is considered respectful to decline.
  4. Check food and entertainment schedules – if you are travelling to a Muslim country during Ramadan, you should be prepared to be flexible with your food and entertainment plans. Avoid unnecessary travel within an hour of sunset, as traffic will be heavy and accident rates peak, and avoid making dinner reservations around that time, as most restaurants will be busy preparing/serving Iftar. In many places, live music entertainment is prohibited, dance clubs are closed, and bars are kept dry. Shopping malls are usually very crowded in the evening, and many tourist activities are put on hold throughout Ramadan.
  5. Additional tips – avoid public displays of affection, listening to loud music and chewing gum in public. Do not order alcohol or pork around Iftar at a restaurant.

If you have any questions with regards to your travel, we highly recommend that you contact International SOS directly and always feel free to reach out to Tufts Global Operations at internationalsafety@tufts.edu.
March 21, 2017

New Restrictions on Electronic Devices and Possible Difficulties Entering the United States

On March 21, 2017, Transportation Safety Authority (TSA) restricted airline passengers from bringing large electronic devices (laptops, tablets, e-readers, electronic games, portable printers, cameras, etc.) in carry-on luggage on flights from the following 10 airports:
 
Queen Alia International Airport (AMM) (Amman, Jordan)
Cairo International Airport (CAI) (Cairo, Egypt)
Ataturk International Airport (IST) (Istanbul, Turkey)
King Abdul-Aziz International Airport (JED) (Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
King Khalid International Airport (RUH) (Riyadh, Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait International Airport (KWI) (Farwaniya, Kuwait)
Mohammed V Airport (CMN) (Casablanca, Morocco)
Hamad International Airport (DOH) (Doha, Qatar)
Dubai International Airport (DXB) (Dubai)
Abu Dhabi International Airport (AUH) (Abu Dhabi)
 
All travelers coming to the United States from these airports should place large electronic devices in their checked luggage.  Passengers can carry cellphones/smartphones on the plane.
 
For a fact sheet on the new security measures, please click here. The full announcement by Homeland Security can be viewed here
 
The United Kingdom has adopted similar measures for flights from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia and Saudi Arabia.

March 16, 2017

Tufts Latest Guidance on Travel affected by the Executive Order

For members of our community from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen: The revised Executive Order issued on March 6, 2017 replaces the previous travel ban, removes Iraq from the list of targeted countries, and further narrows the scope of the ban to exclude permanent residents, dual citizens, and others. According to the Department of Homeland Security’s "Q&A" about implementation of the Executive Order, if you are from one of the six countries, and have a valid visa (that will be valid when you plan to return to the U.S.), you can travel outside the U.S. However, given the uncertainty of the situation, and until we have more information on how/if the new ban will be implemented, the University’s travel advice remains largely the same: If you are a non-immigrant visa holder from one of the six remaining countries on the list, we recommend that you continue to avoid discretionary travel outside the United States. We recognize that this may complicate your plans for Spring Break.

Please visit the page dedicated to the Executive Order for more advice.

Last modified 12/07/2017