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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Senegal

Senegal - Consular Information Sheet
August 17, 2000

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Senegal is a developing West African country. Facilities for tourists are widely available, but they vary in quality. The capital is Dakar.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport is required. A visa is not required for stays of less than 90 days.

Several types of items -- including computers and computer parts, video cameras and players, stereo equipment, tape players, auto parts, and various tools and spare parts -- cannot be brought into Senegal without clearance by Senegalese customs officials. Airport customs officials will hold such items if brought in as baggage or carry-on luggage.

Travelers should obtain the latest information on customs and entry requirements from the Embassy of Senegal, 2112 Wyoming Avenue N.W., Washington, D.C., 20008, telephone (202) 234-0540. Overseas inquiries should be made at the nearest Senegalese embassy or consulate.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: The U.S. Embassy in Dakar advises U.S. citizens to defer travel to the Casamance region of southern Senegal due to incidents involving Casamance separatists. There has been an increase in fighting between Casamance separatists and the Senegalese military, and a number of Senegalese military personnel, separatists and civilians have been killed. U.S. Government-affiliated personnel near the affected areas have temporarily relocated out of the area pending further developments. U.S. Government personnel are subject to restrictions on travel to the Casamance area. U.S. citizens contemplating travel to the Casamance area are urged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Dakar for the latest travel and security information.

Road travel between Mauritania and Senegal is restricted to several designated border crossing points, and long delays at the border are normal.

Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations, and maintain security awareness at all times.

CRIME INFORMATION: Street crime in Senegal poses moderate risks for visitors. Most reported incidents involve pickpockets, purse snatchers and street scam artists, who are especially active at events that draw large crowds or when international meetings occur. In Dakar, there has been a relatively high incidence of purse snatchings and muggings in a popular restaurant area known locally as "La Petite Corniche," located along a three-kilometer stretch of coastal road in the southeastern part of the city.

The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. 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. 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: Several hospitals and clinics in Dakar can treat major and minor injuries and illnesses. There is inadequate inpatient psychiatric care, though there is very good office-based psychiatry. Public hospitals do not meet U.S. standards, but several private clinics are at the level of small European hospitals, and approach U.S. community hospital standards. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of physicians and other health care professionals who may see U.S. citizen patients. The Embassy does not guarantee their services or recommend any of the physicians. Medical facilities outside Dakar are limited.

French medications are far more readily available than American drugs, and the limited selection of American drugs in stock are often listed under the French trade name. Medications may be obtained at pharmacies throughout Dakar and in other areas frequented by tourists, and are usually less expensive than in the United States. Travelers should carry a supply of any needed prescription medicines, along with copies of the prescriptions, including the generic name for the drugs, and a supply of preferred over-the-counter medications.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health services. 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 whether 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, 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.

OTHER 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, which differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Senegal is provided for general reference only and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

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

Road conditions in Senegal range from adequate to poor. Travelers should remain on the major hard-surfaced routes and drive during daylight hours only. Paved roads link most major cities but are often in poor repair. Drivers should expect to encounter stretches of roadways with potholes and other obstacles. Rural roads range from well-maintained dirt and gravel routes to sand tracks. Traffic accidents are a leading cause of injury and death in Senegal. Visitors who drive should take the time to learn local traffic rules and drive defensively. Visitors should be cautious when using public transportation, particularly if the vehicle appears to be overcrowded and/or poorly maintained.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Senegal's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Senegal'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 Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/iasa.pdf. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. 618-229-4801.

Air Afrique operates direct commercial service from Dakar to New York four times a week. Every summer, the U.S. Embassy receives reports of U.S. citizen travelers and others who are denied boarding due to overbooking on their scheduled Air Afrique flights to the United States. Air Afrique passengers, particularly those traveling on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, should make flexible travel plans during the months of June through September. Occasionally, checked baggage is delayed significantly. Travelers should include essential items such as medicines, toiletries and a change of clothing in their carry-on luggage.

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 Senegalese law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Senegal are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CONSULAR NOTIFICATION AND ACCESS: The U.S. Embassy does not always receive timely notification by Senegalese authorities of the arrest of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. If arrested, U.S. citizens should always ask to be allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy. (Please see the section on Registration/Embassy Location below.)

CURRENCY ISSUES: Travelers cannot obtain cash from ATM machines in Senegal. Travelers can obtain cash and/or traveler's checks through international credit cards, such as MasterCard, Visa, and American Express, by presenting their credit card at a local financial institution sponsoring their card.

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 living in or visiting Senegal are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy at Avenue Jean XXIII, Dakar, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Senegal. During business hours, U.S. citizens should call tel. (221) 822-4599. The mailing address is B.P. 49, Dakar, Senegal. The telephone number is (221) 823-4296; after-hours (221) 823-4604.

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