New State Dept travel guidance ranks countries by threat level

US issues travel advisory warns Americans to be cautious while travelling to India

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India has received a rank or Level 2, indicating "exercise increased caution" while Pakistan has been ranked at Level 3, indicating "reconsider travel".

Placing Pakistan in Level 3 (reconsider travel) category, the State Department has advised USA citizens to not travel to Balochistan province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province, and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) due to terrorism.

Level Four is for countries with a "greater likelihood of life-threatening risks" in which the US government may be very limited in its ability to help.

Countries on Level 4 are Yemen, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, North Korea, South Sudan and Central African Republic.

In September, the agency stated in a travel warning that, "numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees have been targeted in specific attacks", suffering "significant injuries as a effect of these attacks". We have witnessed some horrific incidents against tourists in the country.

Officials insisted the change was to make advice clearer to United States citizens that plan to travel.

Malaysia is now ranked among the safest nations in a new travel advisory issued by the United States.

The Level 3 category indicates that people should "Reconsider Travel" and means that travellers should avoid their journey due to serious risks to safety and security. Countries with a level 1 ranking (Canada, Sweden, Mongolia) are not color-coded.

Mexico, a level two country, has complained in the past that U.S. alerts hurt tourism, but the site gives a detailed breakdown of areas to avoid because of drug cartel violence. Advisories are based on information from intelligence agencies, U.S. embassies and host countries' governments, she said. "These are simply based on our assessment of the security situation", senior consular official Michelle Bernier-Toth said.

That process found that members of the public were confused by the current system and unsure how to respond to the various alerts and warnings issued by the State Department. She noted that even some of her colleagues had difficulty understanding the difference between "travel alerts" and "travel warnings" under the previous system. Those will continue to go out through the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program as well as posted on the State Department website.

For example, Mexico is rated Level 2 overall, with increased caution urged because of crime.

"We have been heavily investing in security", Esponda said.

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