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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Guinea

Guinea - Consular Information Sheet
December 15, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Guinea is a developing West African country with minimal facilities for tourism. The capital is Conakry. Travelers should make Conakry hotel reservations in advance.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport, visa and vaccination record are required. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Guinea,
2112 Leroy Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 483-9420, fax (202) 483-8688,
e-mail: EMGUI@Sysnet.net. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Guinean embassy or consulate.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Guinea has experienced occasional civil unrest in Conakry and in larger towns in all regions of the country. However, U.S. citizens have not been targeted in any demonstration-related unrest. Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

Despite the Guinean military's attempts to maintain strict control of its borders, instability in neighboring countries has created tense situations along Guinea's borders. Hostilities along Guinea's borders with Sierra Leone and Liberia escalated in late 2000 with renewed cross-border incursions and kidnappings by various armed factions.

As a result of continued military activity, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to avoid the entire area between the national highway (which runs from Conakry to N'Zerekore) and the Sierra Leone/Liberia border, as well as the area south and east of Kissidougou. All U.S. Government and U.S. Government-affiliated personnel located in this area have been recalled to Conakry, and their travel to the region, particularly the Mamou to Macenta Road, is prohibited.

U.S. citizens contemplating travel to any region bordering Liberia or Sierra Leone are urged to consult the latest Consular Information Sheets for these countries, and to communicate with the U.S. Embassy in Conakry for the latest travel and security information. The crossing of borders requires complete paperwork, and visas and may be difficult to obtain.

CRIME INFORMATION: In an effort to counter urban crime, the Guinean government maintains countrywide roadblocks from midnight to 6 a.m. Residential and street crime is common. Banditry near the Sierra Leone and Liberia borders has also been reported. Criminals particularly target visitors at the airport, in the traditional markets, and near hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners. Visitors should avoid unsolicited offers of assistance at the airport or hotels because such persons may be seeking opportunities to steal luggage, purses or wallets. Travelers should arrange to be met at the airport by hotel personnel, family members or business contacts to reduce vulnerability to these crimes of opportunity. Commercial scams and disputes with local business partners have occasionally created legal difficulties for U.S. citizens. The ability of the U.S. Embassy to extricate U.S. citizens from illegal business deals is extremely limited.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the U.S. Embassy. The pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa provide useful information on protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs, or via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.

MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are poorly equipped and extremely limited. Medicines are in short supply, sterility of equipment is questionable, and treatment is unreliable.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas may face extreme difficulties.

Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

ADDITIONAL HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international traveler's hotline at tel. 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the CDC Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Guinea is provided for general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside/Ambulance Assistance: Poor

Drivers are poorly trained and routinely ignore road safety rules. Guinea's road network, both paved and unpaved, is underdeveloped and unsafe. Roads and vehicles are poorly maintained, and road signage is poor. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road hazards, and make nighttime travel inadvisable. Roads and vehicles are frequently unlit. Guinea has many roadblocks set up by the police or the military, making travel difficult after midnight in the city and between cities. There is no roadside assistance or any ambulance service in Guinea.

Guinea has no public transportation. Taxis, including small cars and larger vans, are often poorly maintained and overly-crowded. Taxis make frequent stops and starts without regard to other vehicles, making driving hazardous. Rental vehicles are available, often with drivers, from agencies at major hotels in Conakry.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Guinea, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Guinea's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Guinea's air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at
tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

DOMESTIC AIR SERVICE: Domestic airlines offer services to most interior cities, often to rudimentary dirt landing strips.

CURRENCY REGULATIONS: Travelers are prohibited from having more than 5,000 Guinean Francs (about $3.00 US) in their possession upon departure from Guinea.

Western Union has three offices in Conakry, and Moneygram has an office downtown. Money transfers have worked successfully. Credit cards are accepted at some larger hotels in Conakry. Traveler's checks are accepted only at banks and some hotels. Credit card cash advances (VISA) are available at three "BICIGUI" (local bank) locations. Inter-bank fund transfers are possible at the Bicigui banks, but can be difficult and expensive.

RESTRICTIONS ON PHOTOGRAPHY: Visitors are advised to restrict photography to private gatherings. Explicit permission from the Guinean government should be obtained before photographing military and transportation facilities, government buildings or public works. Taking a photograph without permission in any public area may provoke a response from security personnel or offend the people being photographed.

TELEPHONES: Several cellular phone services are available. A number of public phones operate by locally purchased phone cards. Telephones are available in Conakry and in other major towns and hotels. However, while privatization has improved the communication system, disruptions in telephone service are common.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Guinean law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Guinea are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children, international parental child abduction, and international child support enforcement issues, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

EMBASSY LOCATION/REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Conakry, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Guinea. The U.S. Embassy is located at 2nd Blvd. and 9th Ave. in Conakry. The mailing address is B.P. 603, Conakry, Guinea, tel. (224) 41-15-20/21/23, fax (224) 41-15-22, and on the Internet at http://www.eti-bull.net/usembassy/.

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