U.S. government alerts against travel to South Africa during FIFA World Cup, warns of terror attacks

May 26th, 2010 - 1:41 am ICT by BNO News  

WASHINGTON, D.C. (BNO NEWS) – As the the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa approaches, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert for the African country on Tuesday.

The department is alerting U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in South Africa to safety and security issues related to the massive sports event, which is expecting around 350,000 international visitors.

This year’s edition of the World Cup will be taking place in nine different cities across South Africa from June 11 to July 11. The travel alert expires on July 31, mentioning six main issues: terrorism, crime, public disturbances, immigration-customs-public health, lodging, and transportation.

Targets for terrorists usually include large-scale public events like the World Cup. “There is a heightened risk that extremist groups will conduct terrorist acts within South Africa in the near future,” the U.S. government warned. It said, however, that the government has no information on any specific, credible threat of attack that any individual or group is planning to coincide with the tournament itself.

The statement follows a series of terrorist threats against the World Cup in South Africa, including a man - who claims to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq - was detained in Iraq and said he had considered to carry out a terrorist attack during the event. He said he was planning to target either Dutch or Danish citizens.

The U.S. Government said that, in the event it does receive any specific and credible threat, it will immediately notify the public.

All U.S. citizens in or traveling to South Africa are urged to register with the U.S. Mission to South Africa in order to receive alerts as soon as possible.

Even though the majority of visitors complete their travels in South Africa without problems, the State Department is advising visitors to be aware of their surroundings and safeguard their personal security by keeping doors and windows locked and avoiding having purses, phones, bags and luggage in plain view, as criminal activity in the country is prevalent. It is also suggested to leave enough space in front of your vehicle for a quick exit at all times.

Labor actions and protests are common against deficient public services, and they may occur during the World Cup. Citizens are cautioned to avoid any areas where protests, demonstrations or other public disturbances are taking place, as they sometimes turn violent.

U.S. citizens should ensure they have two blank pages marked “Visas” in their passports as required for South African entry formalities. Questions regarding entry may be directed to the nearest South African embassy or consulate. In addition, any traveler arriving from or passing through the so-called “yellow fever belt” of Africa and South America must carry certification of having received a yellow fever vaccination upon entry into South Africa.

Visitors are also urged to book rooms well in advance since shortages of hotel rooms are likely, especially in the smaller World Cup host cities including Bloemfontein, Nelspruit, Polokwane, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, and Rustenburg.

South Africa maintains adequate and generally safe intercity transportation, but travelers are advised to use rental cars or book private transport from one of the many commercial operations available.

Detailed information about the World Cup for American visitors is available on the U.S. Mission to South Africa’s dedicated World Cup website: http://www.sa2010.state.gov/

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