September 14, 1999
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Lebanon, and recommends that Americans who travel there exercise caution. In the past, Americans have been targets of numerous terrorist attacks in Lebanon. The perpetrators of these attacks are still present in Lebanon, and retain the ability to act. In June 1998 the U.S. Embassy in Beirut was the target of a rocket-propelled grenade attack. The security situation in the city of Sidon has recently deteriorated, including the issuance from the Sidon area of an anti-American threat of undetermined credibility. Americans are cautioned to avoid travel into Sidon and adjacent Palestinian refugee camps until the security environment stabilizes.
The local security environment limits the movement of U.S. officials in certain areas of the country. This factor, and limited staffing, prevent the U.S. Embassy from performing full consular functions and providing timely assistance in all cases to Americans in Lebanon. Dual nationals and spouses of Lebanese citizens can encounter particular difficulties. (See paragraphs on dual nationality, compulsory military service and custody/family issues in this Consular Information Sheet.) All Department of State employees and their families, and all U.S. government employees and their families under the authority of a chief of mission abroad, are restricted from unofficial travel in Lebanon without prior approval by the Department of State. American air carriers are prohibited from use of the Beirut International Airport due to continuing concern about passenger and aircraft security arrangements. In view of these concerns, U.S. Government travelers currently use the airport on a limited basis.
The expiration of the passport restriction for travel to Lebanon by U.S. citizens in July 1997 and the removal of the restriction on sale of airline tickets to Lebanon in June 1998 should not be construed as a determination by the Department of State that travel to Lebanon is without risk. The Department of State keeps the security situation in Lebanon under close review and will address additional risks and take any other appropriate steps as necessary. In particular, U.S. citizens who travel to Lebanon should avoid the southern suburbs of Beirut, portions of the Biqa’ Valley, and southern Lebanon, including Sidon. Palestinian camps are outside the control of the Lebanese government. Areas inside and along the borders of the Israeli-occupied zone are unsettled and subject to frequent armed conflict. All of these areas should be avoided and visitors to Lebanon should monitor the news for reports of hostilities or incidents that might affect their personal safety.