U.S. Embassy Issues Security Message on Ethiopia’s Gondar, “Camelot of Africa”

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The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia has issued a security message for U.S. citizens considering travel to the city of Gondar.

A number of explosions have taken place in the city, the embassy reports, including a grenade at the Florida International Hotel April 1, a grenade in the Kebele 18 neighborhood April 18, a grenade in a private residential compound April 20, and a grenade at the Lodge du Chateau April 24.

“The Embassy recommends U.S. citizens carefully consider whether travel to Gondar is necessary at this time,” the embassy said in a statement on its website. “All U.S. citizens residing in or traveling to Gondar should be aware of their surroundings at all times and re-asses their personal safety plans in light of these events.”

The security message comes as Ethiopia is making a push to attract Millennials and travelers interested in high-altitude mountain biking, running trails and underground caverns. In March the Ethiopian Tourism Organization (ETO) held its first major event in North America aimed at spotlighting the destination to North American media and travel trade.

According to Lonely Planet, Gondar (or Gonder) is often called the “Camelot of Africa.” Notable sights include the Debre Berhan Selassie, Royal Enclosure and Empress Mentewab’s Kuskuam Complex.

A travel warning for Ethiopia was issued most recently in December 2016 and remains in effect due to the potential for civil unrest related to anti-government protests that began in November 2015.

“The Government of Ethiopia declared a State of Emergency effective October 8, 2016, that includes provisions allowing for the arrest of individuals without a court order for activities they may otherwise consider routine, such as communication, consumption of media, attending gatherings, engaging with certain foreign governments or organizations, and violating curfews,” the embassy said. “Additionally, the Government of Ethiopia routinely does not inform the U.S. Embassy of detentions of U.S. citizens in Ethiopia.”

The embassy also warned that the unpredictable security situation, as well as the periodic shutdown of Internet, cellular data and phone services, in the country could limit its ability to provide consular services without warning.

The Department of State advises U.S. citizens to register their mobile number with the U.S. Embassy to receive security information via text or SMS, as well as to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).