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Three countries urge caution travelling to US amid protests, violence

11 July 2016, 14:26

Dubai — Two Mideast countries are warning citizens travelling in the United States to be careful around protests over police shootings.

A "special alert" issued by the United Arab Emirates Embassy to Washington on Saturday urged citizens to stay away from demonstrations in US cities. State news agency WAM said the warning followed a protest by supporters of the "Black Lives Matter" movement in Washington on Friday.

The United States regularly issues travel warnings urging Americans to either avoid or exercise caution in countries marred by violence or political instability.

But now the tables have been turned as America is the focus of concern by foreign governments in the Middle East and Caribbean as protesters marched in US cities throughout the weekend after police killed black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.

The protests have led to numerous arrests, scuffles and injuries in confrontations between police and demonstrators. American protection services also came under the spotlight after a lone black gunman on Thursday shot dead five police officers during a protest in Dallas.

Since, the island kingdom of Bahrain issued its own advisory on Twitter, telling nationals to be "cautious of protests or crowded areas."

On Friday, the Bahamas put out its own advisory about US travel, saying young men especially should "exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police."

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs warns visitors to "exercise appropriate caution" in light of recent episodes involving police officers and black men. It also advises people not to get involved in demonstrations and to avoid crowds.

"In particular young males are asked to exercise extreme caution in affected cities in their interactions with the police. Do not be confrontational and co-operate," the statement said.

The travel warning is of the kind that the US State Department issues to Americans traveling to countries it deems dangerous.

f you’re planning on travelling to a country with higher terrorism risk, keep the following precautions in mind:

- If you’re travelling from South Africa, be sure to register on the of  South Africans Abroad platform with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, which will allow them to assist you in the event of an emergency.

- Watch and read news about the country and region long before you head over. 

- Be vigilant in public areas and places that attract foreigners and westerners like embassies, hotels, restaurants, bars and businesses.

- Look out for anything suspicious, and if you see anything report it to the local police immediately – many terrorist attacks are foiled by the vigilance of ordinary people.

- Be clear about any routes you use and have a plan of action to follow in the event of an incident.

- Keep your mobile phone charged and with you, with emergency numbers programmed in.

- Inform colleagues, neighbours or hotel staff about where you're going and when you intend to return.

- Identify places like police stations, hospitals, official buildings along your route where you could seek refuge in an emergency. 

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