Breaking Down the State Department’s Reconsider Travel List

Posted on Mar 27, 2018

As business changes with advancing technology and a more mobile workforce, the legal obligation of companies to provide Duty of Care to their employees becomes increasingly relevant. A company is responsible for the wellbeing of its employees from both a moral and legal perspective, and this extends, of course, to travelling employees.

Breaking Down the State Department’s Reconsider Travel List

The State Department's Do Not Travel list includes countries like North Korea, South Sudan, and Syria, and while these choices may be as obvious as its simple command, Do Not Travel, the Reconsider Travel list is more nuanced; it's up to you to consider and weigh the risks.

With the exception of the curious health crisis in Cuba, and the devastating hurricane damage in the British Virgin Islands and Dominica, many of the countries on the list below are dealing with some combination of terrorism, violent crime, or civil unrest.

Terrorist groups in many of these countries continue plotting possible attacks, and may attack with little to no warning, often targeting Westerners, tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, places of worship, and local government facilities. Because of terrorism and other issues, borders to these countries often close with little or no warning.

Violent crime in these countries includes, but is not limited to: armed robbery, grenade attacks, gunfire, rape, mugging, carjacking, murder and gang activity. Often, local police lack the resources, capacity, and training to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents and emergencies. Rape, extortion, violent street crime, and narcotic trafficking, are also common in some of the countries listed.

Public demonstrations can, in many of these countries, occur with little warning and can escalate to violence. Protesters may block major roads to gain publicity for their causes, and access to the airport may be cut off if security situations deteriorate.

In these countries, it is likely that the U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens. Often, consular officers from the U.S. Embassy are denied access or are severely delayed in assisting its U.S. citizens. In these countries, the U.S. Embassy may not even be notified of the detention of its citizen.  You need to consider this in your evaluation of travel destinations: if the government can't provide assistance, what could you do to help your employee if an extreme situation were to arise?

Here are the countries you should reconsider sending your employees to, according to the U.S. State Department.

British Virgin Islands
The reason: Aftermath of a natural disaster
Hurricane Irma caused extensive damage. Areas of the islands may lack adequate access to electricity, water, medicine, or food. Some roads may be impassable.

The reason: Crime and armed conflict
Cross-border raids by armed groups and mortar fire from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where political clashes continue, are common. Police and military checkpoints are common and restrictive, and the homes of private citizens are sometimes searched as part of a larger weapon search.

The reason: Crime, terrorism, and minefields
Minefields line the borders with Libya and Sudan. 

The reason: Health attacks directed at U.S. Embassy Havana employees
Over the past several months, numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees appear to have been targeted in specific attacks. Affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms including ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, and difficulty sleeping. U.S. citizens may also be at risk. Attacks have occurred in U.S. diplomatic residences and at Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri in Havana.

The reason: Crime and civil unrest
Violent crime here is common due to aggressive vendors, panhandlers, and occasionally criminals targeting foreigners.

The reason: Crime
Extortion, violent street crime, and narcotics trafficking is widespread, particularly in the border regions. 

The reason: Aftermath of a natural disaster
Hurricane Maria caused extensive damage. Areas of the country may lack adequate access to electricity, water, medicine, or food. Some roads are still impassable.

El Salvador
The reason: Crime
Murder, assault, rape, and armed robbery, is common.  Gang activity, such as extortion, violent street crime, and narcotics and arms trafficking, is widespread. 

The reason: Crime and civil unrest
Armed robbery, protests, tire burning, and road blockages are frequent and often spontaneous.

The reason: Crime
Homicide and armed robbery are common.

The reason: Crime, terrorism, and armed conflict
Kidnapping, whether for ransom, political motives, or family disputes, has occurred. Suspects in kidnappings often have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations.

The reason: Crime and terrorism
Mugging, armed robbery, rape, and assault, are common.

The reason: Crime and terrorism
Armed robbery is common.

The reason: Crime, terrorism, and piracy
Armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, and rape, are common.

The reason: Terrorism
Over the past six months, there have been at least 40 significant terrorist attacks across the country.

The reason: Terrorism and harassment
U.S. citizens are often victims of harassment, mistreatment, and extortion by law enforcement and other officials. U.S. consular assistance to detained individuals is often unreasonably delayed by Russian officials. 

The reason: Terrorism and civil unrest
Under the country's State of Emergency, arbitrary detentions, curfews and arrests can occur with little to no warning.

The reason: Terrorism and arbitrary detentions
Politically-charged arrests of foreigners is common.

The reason: Crime, civil unrest, poor health infrastructure and arbitrary arrest and detention of U.S. citizens
Political rallies and demonstrations occur daily, and may be met with security forces who respond with tear gas, pepper spray, water cannons, and rubber bullets. Looting and vandalism are common. There are shortages of food, water, medicine, and medical supplies throughout much of Venezuela. Security forces have arbitrarily detained U.S. citizens for long periods.

By not practicing good Duty of Care measures, you could be exposing your employees to unnecessary risk, as well as possible legal ramifications depending on the country and laws your organization operates within. Every country has different definitions and requirements under Duty of Care, and sorting it out can be complicated. That's where we can help you.

NC4's risk management application, NC4 Risk Center™, integrates technology and resources to enhance your ability to monitor, analyze, and respond to risks. Clear and concise communication improves situational awareness and emergency response time. Risk Center is a state-of-the art-system that takes into account a variety of parameters and allows managers to act with speed and accuracy. For more information on how this travel risk assessment platform can help your organization fulfill its Duty of Care obligations, contact us today at 877-624-4999.

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