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US Embassy in Kabul warns Americans not to travel to Afghanistan over ‘critical levels’ of violence

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 30, 2011. (S.K. Vemmer/Department of State)
April 27, 2021

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a “Do Not Travel” advisory for Americans in Afghanistan on Tuesday, citing high levels of COVID-19, crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping and armed conflict.

The State Department ordered that all non-essential government employees who can perform their duties elsewhere immediately leave the U.S. Embassy Kabul.

“Travel to all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe because of critical levels of kidnappings, hostage taking, suicide bombings, widespread military combat operations, landmines, and terrorist and insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne, magnetic, or other improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide vests, and grenades,” the announcement read.

According to the embassy, terrorist and insurgent groups continue planning and executing attacks that occur with little or no warning, often targeting Afghan officials and U.S. government convoys and facilities, local government buildings, foreign embassies, military installations, commercial entities, non-governmental organization (NGO) offices, hospitals, residential compounds, tourist locations, transportation hubs, public gatherings, markets and shopping areas, places of worship, restaurants, hotels, universities, airports, schools, gymnasiums, and other locations frequented by U.S. citizens and other foreign nationals.

“The U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited, particularly outside of Kabul,” the advisory stated. “Evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and the volatile security situation.”

All U.S. citizens seeking to leave Afghanistan should depart as quickly as possible on any available commercial flights, the notice read, adding a reminder to check the Department of the State’s COVID-19 page before attempting any international travel.

The department also said that if individuals do decide to travel to Afghanistan, they should “draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney” and “Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.”

“Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs, if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. Consider signing a power of attorney,” the advisory stated.

They also advised against “discussing your movement plans in public where you can be overheard or with persons who do not have the need to know,” but did recommend notifying a trusted individuals of any travel itinerary and contact information.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also issued a Level 4 Travel Health Notice for Afghanistan due to a “very high level of COVID-19.”