The State Department has just issued a new Travel Warning dated May 25, 2011 urging American citizens not to travel to Yemen and announcing the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. Embassy personnel and all family members:
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high security threat level in Yemen due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. The Department urges U.S. citizens not to travel to Yemen. U.S. citizens currently in Yemen should depart while commercial transportation is available. The Department of State has ordered all eligible family members of U.S. government employees as well as certain non-emergency personnel to depart Yemen. Due to the fluid security situation in Sana'a, the Consular Section will only be able to provide emergency American citizen services. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for Yemen issued on March 6, 2011 to provide updated information on violent confrontations at demonstrations, increased security measures, and to note the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. Embassy personnel and all family members.
The security threat level in Yemen is extremely high due to terrorist activities and civil unrest. There is ongoing civil unrest throughout the country and large-scale protests in major cities. Violent clashes are taking place in Sana'a, and may escalate without notice. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and escalate into violence. U.S. citizens are urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of a demonstration. Terrorist organizations continue to be active in Yemen, including Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The U.S. government remains concerned about possible attacks against U.S. citizens, facilities, businesses, and perceived U.S. and Western interests. Piracy in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Indian Ocean is also a security threat to maritime activities in the region. See our International Maritime Piracy Fact Sheet at http://travel.state.gov.
U.S. government-facilitated evacuations 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 U.S. citizens' ability to depart the country and may slow the U.S. Embassy's ability to provide assistance. U.S. citizens in Yemen should ensure that they have proper and current documentation at all times. For more information, see “What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis” on http://travel.state.gov. Evacuation options from Yemen are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and other security concerns outlined below. The U.S. government typically evacuates U.S. citizens to a safe haven, and travelers are responsible for making their own onward travel plans. Travelers should not expect to be evacuated to the United States.
Active links added above. Read more here. The US Embassy in Yemen went on authorized voluntary departure on March 6, 2011; read our post about that here, including the challenges of evacuating private Americans from the country. An ordered, non-optional departure, leaving only core personnel at the embassy signify worsening security situation. It is a non-military evacuation by a polite name. Our thoughts and prayers to our friends there.