We will provide an overview of the places you should avoid travelling to at this time for safety reasons. It will discuss the potential risk factors in visiting these countries and advise those travelling there.
Places the U.S. Government Warns Not to Travel Right Now, You may want to reconsider travelling to these countries in 2023. The U.S. State Department provides travel advisories for over 200 countries worldwide, regularly updated based on various risk factors such as health, terrorism, and civil unrest.
The travel advisory levels range from Level 1, which advises travellers to take standard precautions, to Level 4, which advises against all travel to a particular country.
Countries To Avoid Travelling Right Now
The Central Asian country is wrestling with “armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, terrorism, and kidnapping,” according to the State Department. U.S. citizens are specifically at risk for violence or kidnapping. In December 2022, the government reinstituted public floggings and executions, and women’s rights are disappearing under Taliban control. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul halted operations in August 2021.
Russia’s neighbor Belarus has been flagged for “arbitrary enforcement of laws, the risk of detention, the Russian military attack on neighbouring Ukraine, and the buildup of Russian military in Belarus along the border with Ukraine.” The U.S. Embassy in Minsk halted operations in February 2022.
Terrorism, crime and kidnapping are plaguing this West African nation. Terrorist attacks may target hotels, restaurants and schools with little to no warning, and the country’s East and Sahel regions are in a state of emergency.
Central African Republic:
While there have not been specific incidents of U.S. citizens targeted with violence or crime, violent crime and sudden closure of roads and borders are shared. The advisory states that “Embassy Bangui’s limited capacity to support U.S. citizens, crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping” is a factor in its assessment.
Myanmar (Formerly Burma):
Armed conflict and civil unrest are the primary reasons not to travel to this Southeast Asian country, which experienced a military coup in early 2021. COVID-19 restrictions, limited health care resources, wrongful detentions and “areas with land mines and unexploded ordnance” are also risk factors.
Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization designated by the State Department, controls much of the Gaza Strip, which shares borders with Israel and Egypt. Terrorism, civil unrest and armed conflict are the primary risk factors. The advisory states, “sporadic mortar or rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses may occur at any time.”
Concerns about kidnapping, crime and civil unrest are all prominent risk factors for Haiti, which borders the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean Sea. The country has experienced several natural disasters, including economic and social instability, contributing to chronic poverty. In October, the country’s prime minister asked for international security forces to help combat ongoing gang violence, stating that “the whole country has been taken hostage.” The travel advisory says, “U.S. citizens should depart Haiti now in light of the current security and health situation and infrastructure challenges.”
Kidnapping and wrongful detentions are risk factors for all travellers, while U.S. citizens are specifically at risk for “arbitrary arrest and detention.” U.S.-Iranian nationals such as students, journalists and business travellers have been arrested for espionage and threatening national security.
This winter, for the first time in four decades, this war-torn Middle Eastern nation is hosting the Arabian Gulf Cup, an eight-nation international soccer tournament. But while the country appears optimistic about a more stable future, the U.S. government still puts Iraq on its “no-go” list. The State Department cites “terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict [and] civil unrest” as causes for the country’s Level 4 distinction. Iraq’s northern borders, and its border with Syria, are especially dangerous.
Following the end of its dictatorship over a decade ago, Libya has been wrought with internal conflict between armed groups in the East and West. Armed conflict, civil unrest, crime, kidnapping and terrorism are all risk factors. U.S. citizens have been targets of kidnapping for ransom, with terrorists targeting hotels and airports frequented by Westerners. The U.S. Embassy in Tripoli halted operations in 2014.
After experiencing a military coup in 2020, crime, terrorism, and kidnapping are all prevalent threats in this landlocked West African nation. In July 2022, non-emergency U.S. government employees and their families were ordered to leave the country due to the higher risk of terrorist activity.
Each state in Mexico is assessed separately for travel advisory levels. Six of the 32 states in Mexico are designated as Level 4: Colima, Guerrero, Michoacan, Sinaloa, Tamaulipas and Zacatecas. Crime and kidnapping are listed as the primary risk factors throughout the country.
North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea):
U.S. passports are not valid for travel “to, in, or through” this country, home to one of the world’s longest-running dynastic dictatorships. The travel advisory states that the Level 4 distinction is due to “the continuing serious risk of arrest and long-term detention of U.S. nationals.”
The travel advisory for Russia cites its invasion of Ukraine, harassment of U.S. citizens by Russian government officials, and arbitrary law enforcement as a few reasons for the Level 4 designation. Chechnya and Mount Elbrus are listed explicitly as Level 4 regions. Terrorism, civil unrest, health, kidnapping and wrongful detention are risks.
A severe drought resulting from five failed rainy seasons has caused food prices to shoot up, putting the East African country at risk of famine amid conflict with Islamist insurgents. Violent crime is common throughout Somalia, pirates frequent its coast off the Horn of Africa, and medical facilities, where they exist, have limited capacity. Crime, terrorism, civil unrest, health and kidnapping are all risk factors.
Six journalists who work with the state-run South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation are currently detained over footage of President Salva Kiir, who has been in power since the country separated from Sudan in 2011. Crime, kidnapping and armed conflict are the primary risk factors, with violent crime common throughout the country. Weapons are readily available, and travellers have been victims of sexual assault and armed robbery.
Following a military coup in 2021 and subsequent protests, civil unrest is the primary risk factor for Africa’s third-largest country by area. Crime, terrorism, kidnapping and armed conflict are also noted. Crime is less frequent in Khartoum, the capital. Sporadic protests and civil unrest can disrupt internet and cell phone service.
The advisory states that “No part of Syria is safe from violence,” with terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, armed conflict and risk of unjust detention all potential risk factors. U.S. citizens are often a target for kidnappings and detention. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus halted operations in 2012.
Russian setbacks in their invasion of Ukraine have buoyed hopes in the country for 2023. However, Ukraine is a Level 4 country due to “Russia’s full-scale invasion,” with crime and civil unrest also noted as risk factors. The Ukrainian government declared a state of emergency in February 2022.
Human rights abuses and lack of health care plague this South American nation, which has been in a political crisis since 2014. In 2019, diplomatic personnel were withdrawn from the U.S. Embassy in Caracas. Threats in the country include crime, civil unrest, kidnapping, wrongful detention and poor health infrastructure.
Six of the nine risk factors defined by the State Department – terrorism, civil unrest, health risks, kidnapping, armed conflict and landmines – are all present in Yemen. Despite private companies offering tourist visits to the Yemeni island of Socotra, the U.S. government argues those arranging such visits “are putting tourists in danger.” Civil war and cholera are also both present throughout the country. The U.S. Embassy in Sanaa halted operations in 2015.