Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Announcement of Drawdown of U.S. Embassy Staff
September 6, 2013
On September 6, the Department of State drew down non-emergency personnel and family members from Embassy Beirut due to potential threats to U.S. Mission facilities and personnel. The Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon because of current safety and security concerns. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should understand that they accept risks in remaining and should carefully consider those risks.
U.S. citizens concerned for their safety should consider making plans to depart by commercial means. U.S. citizens will be responsible for arranging their own travel out of Lebanon. Beirut International Airport is open and commercial flights are operating. Travelers should check with their airlines prior to traveling to verify the flight schedule.
Those who remain should prepare to depart at short notice. This includes ensuring that travel documents for all family members are available and up to date. U.S. citizens with valid passports and foreign dependents with valid passports or visas should not/not contact the Embassy for travel arrangements. Rather, they should make their own arrangements directly with transportation companies or travel agents.
U.S. citizens should be aware that the Embassy does not offer “protection” services to individuals who feel unsafe. U.S. citizens with special medical or other needs should be aware of the risks of remaining in Lebanon given their condition and should be prepared to seek treatment in Lebanon if they cannot arrange for travel out of the country. U.S. citizens traveling or residing in Lebanon who choose to remain should be aware that the U.S. Embassy's ability to reach all areas of Lebanon is limited. The Embassy urges all U.S. citizens in Lebanon to monitor the media for the latest developments.
There are no plans to conduct a U.S. government-sponsored evacuation at this time. U.S. government-facilitated evacuations, such as the evacuation that took place from Lebanon in 2006, occur only when no safe commercial alternatives exist. Evacuation assistance is provided on a cost-recovery basis, which means the traveler must reimburse the U.S. government for travel costs. The lack of a valid U.S. passport may hinder the ability of U.S. citizens to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy's ability to provide assistance. U.S. citizens in Lebanon should therefore ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times. U.S. Legal Permanent Residents should consult with the Department of Homeland Security before they depart the United States to ensure they have proper documentation to re-enter. Further information on the Department’s role during emergencies can be found on the website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs: www.travel.state.gov.
As staff levels at the Embassy are restricted, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency and provide routine consular services is limited and may be further constrained by the fluid security situation. The safety of our visitors and staff is our highest priority. Due to disruptions caused by the current environment, consular services could experience unusual delays. This situation may affect U.S. Citizen Services, as well as processing times for visa applications. Changes to appointment schedules may occur on very short notice. The Consular Section’s capacity to respond to inquiries is limited at this time due to the volume of inquiries. We regret the inconvenience and thank you for your patience as we strive to provide efficient service while prioritizing your safety.
We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Lebanon enroll in the Department of State's Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at https://step.state.gov/step. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don't have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.
Regularly monitor the State Department's website at http://travel.state.gov, where you can find current Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for Lebanon, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Lebanon at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html. For additional information, refer to "A Safe Trip Abroad" on the State Department's website.
Contact the U.S. Embassy for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter at https://mobile.twitter.com/travelgov and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/travelgov, and download our free Smart Traveler iPhone App at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/smart-traveler/id442693988?mt=8 to have travel information at your fingertips.
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut Lebanon is located at Awkar facing the Municipality, PO Box 70-840, Beirut and is open Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4:30 PM, (961) (4) 542600 or (961) (4) 543600. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is (961) (4) 542600 or (961) (4) 543600. For further information, U.S. citizens may also access our website at Embassy in Lebanon.