US Embassy Nigeria Reduces Public Operations as a Security Precaution

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. DS

 

On July 16, the US Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria announced the reduction of its public operations through this week as a security precaution:

Location:  Abuja, Nigeria
Date:  July 16, 2021
Event:  Limit Non-essential Movement

The U.S. Embassy in Abuja has reduced public operations effective Friday, July 16 through next week as a security precaution.  The U.S. Embassy has strongly encouraged U.S. staff to limit non-essential personal travel in the Federal Capital Territory and private U.S. citizens are advised to do the same.

###

US Mission South Africa to Amcits: Avoid All Non-Essential Movement #CivilUnrest

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. Thanks — DS

 

On July 13, US Mission South Africa issued a Security Alert recommending that U.S. citizens avoid all non-essential travel within areas affected by blockages, increased violence, vandalism and criminal activity

Event:  Civil unrest and protests continue throughout KwaZulu-Natal Province and Johannesburg and Pretoria in Gauteng Province.  Following reports of blockages on many provincial and municipal transit routes, increased violence, vandalism, and criminal activity at commercial centers, and calls for calm by President Cyril Ramaphosa, the U.S. Mission to South Africa recommends avoiding all non-essential movement within affected areas.  Exercise heightened caution in commercial areas where looting and violence can and has occurred suddenly.  The situation throughout many areas of these provinces is unstable and authorities are not able to respond to all events.   

The U.S. Consulate General Durban is available for emergency services only.  The U.S. Consulates General in Johannesburg and Cape Town are operating as normal.

There is currently a “Level 4-Do Not Travel” Advisory for South Africa due to COVID-19 and related restrictions and conditions. The advisory also advised U.S. citizens to “Exercise increased caution in South Africa due to crime and civil unrest. “
The advisory dated July 6, 2021 was “Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information and “If you decide to Travel.”
US Mission South Africa is currently headed by Chargé d’Affaires Todd P. Haskell who joined Mission South Africa as the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim in March 2021. Ambassador Haskell previously served as the United States Ambassador to the Republic of Congo from July 2017 until January 2021. He is a 35-year career member of the Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor.
Ambassador Haskell’s second in command is Heather Merritt who was “chosen by the Department of State to serve as Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) at the U.S. Mission to South Africa, effective April 16, 2021.”  According to her official bio, she arrived in South Africa on August 28, 2020 as the U.S. Consul General in Johannesburg.

 

Related items:

Related posts:

 

 

 

 

US Embassy Eswatini Confirms Shots Fired at Embassy Vehicle, @USMC Augments Internal Security

Thank you to over 500 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your continued support and well wishes. Thanks — DS

 

The US Embassy in Mbabane, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) issued a Security Alert, the sixth alert since late June following the continuing civil unrest in the country. The Embassy has also confirmed that shots were fired at a U.S. Embassy vehicle on July 1st and that U.S. Marines have augmented its internal security. @USMC has released a statement that a team of 13 Marines deployed on short notice to the embassy to support on-ground embassy security personnel along with the Diplomatic Security Service Mobile Security Deployments team.

Event:  The Government of the Kingdom of Eswatini announced a nationwide curfew from 1800 – 0500 hours.   Communication disruptions, including internet and cell phone service, are occurring.  Security forces are actively patrolling the streets during curfew hours.

The international airport, KMIII, is now operational.  U.S. citizens wishing to depart Eswatini should take advantage of commercial options available.

The U.S. Embassy has limited ability to assist U.S. citizens in Eswatini.

Citizens are urged to respect the government curfew and exercise caution.

US citizens who require assistance should contact +268 2417 9000 and then PRESS TWO.

The South African land borders are currently open and antigen tests are available at the border at a cost of 300 Rand, payable in Rand only.  For citizens flying out of OR Tambo, PCR testing labs are available.  Citizens are required to have a negative PCR test in order to travel to the United States.

The U.S. Embassy is operating with reduced services. U.S. citizens needing emergency services should call the Consular Section using the contact information below.

Actions to Take: 

    • Monitor local media for updates on changing conditions.
    • Expect communication disruptions; contact family and friends to let them know you are safe.
    • If safe, stock up on groceries and water and then stay home.

 

###

US Embassy Bangkok: Overseas Americans and COVID Vaccines

Thank you to the 504 readers and supporters who made our continued operation possible this year. Raising funds for a small outlet that is already open and free for all to read has often been the most challenging part of running  this blog. We are grateful for your support and well wishes. Merci, Grazie — DS

 

According to the CA bureau, an estimated 9 million U.S. citizens lived overseas. Late last month, Reuters reported that the U.S. Embassy in Thailand “rejects citizens appeal for vaccines.”
Obviously, the decision to fly vaccines to Thailand as reportedly requested by American expatriates in the country (or to 194 other countries where the United States has diplomatic relations) is not something that each individual embassy can decide on. We don’t think this is something that even the State Department can decide on. This is a decision that has to be made by the current administration. And if/when the Biden administration decides that overseas Americans in one country should be vaccinated, it would also need to consider access to vaccines for overseas Americans living in other countries. There will likely be an equity of treatment issue; the USG will either vaccinate all overseas Americans, or it doesn’t.
WorldAtlas.com notes that about 900,000 Americans live in Mexico, some 800,000 in the European Union, and about 740,000 are in Canada. Approximately 700,000 are in India, with some 600,000 living in the Philippines, and about 185,000 in Israel.
What options are there for overseas Americans?
#1. AmCits fly back the the U.S. to get vaccinated as suggested by Embassy Bangkok.  How many of the 9 million overseas Americans will be able to return to the U.S. just to get vaccinated?
#2. Two former political ambassadors to  Thailand and New Zealand wrote a WSJ op-ed claiming that “There are no significant hurdles for the U.S. government to ship Covid vaccines around the world and administer them to Americans living abroad. The State Department confirmed on April 20 that it has sent to each U.S. embassy sufficient vaccines to administer to all American employees. Each embassy also maintains a list of Americans who have registered their contact details, and unregistered Americans could easily be reached through the American communities in each country. All that would be required to administer vaccines in an orderly manner to Americans overseas would be to create an online sign-up system.”
Really? Embassies have MED units typically staffed by a handful of medical professionals; a physician and a couple of nurses if you’re lucky. Consulates typically do not have their own health units. How is the Health Unit at the US Embassy in Manila for example supposed to managed the logistics of vaccinating some 600,000 American expats in the Philippines? Should embassies be authorized to provide vaccinations, it would require additional staff to administer the vaccines, handle an online sign-up system, bio-hazard disposals, security, etc. In the meantime, posts are still expected to continue doing the day to day work they’re tasked to do.
#3. Each embassy advocates for equitable access to vaccines for U.S. citizens in host country, as indicated by US Embassy Bangkok. Obviously, host country would resist the perception that it is favoring expats over its own citizens. So how equitable the access to vaccines for overseas Americans would most likely vary from country to country.
#4. The French Embassy in Thailand has organized a two-month vaccination campaign for French nationals from multiple hospitals in the country, providing the single-dose Covid-19 vaccine for free to those who are 55 years old and older. Reuters reported that China has donated one million vaccine doses to Thailand, with 400,000 earmarked for its nationals. This is probably one reason why overseas Americans are upset; the French and the Chinese are providing vaccination to their overseas nationals while the United States has not. The United States plans to  donate 80 million vaccines worldwide with 25 million doses soon to be released (7 million going to Asia). The United States has earmarked these doses for priority countries but it cannot allocate 9 million out of that 80 million doses for its overseas citizens?
At a May 11, 2021 Press Briefing, the WH spox was asked:

Q    What about Americans overseas?  There is bipartisan groups who are pleading with this administration to help them get vaccinated.  It’s impractical for them to fly back to the United States.  So, are you looking into this?  Anything that the administration can do?

MS. PSAKI:  Well, we certainly do — and as a veteran of the State Department, I can restate that we are quite focused on the health, safety, wellbeing of Americans living all around the world.  We have not historically provided private healthcare for Americans living overseas, so that remains our policy.  But I don’t have anything to predict in terms of what may be ahead.

We are in a once in a lifetime pandemic.
We think that the WH needs to reassess this policy. Just because the USG has not historically provided healthcare to overseas Americans doesn’t mean that should remain the policy as it relates to COVID -19 vaccines.
We can all accept the uniqueness of our times. Our collective grief has marked us forever.   The US government can do more for our overseas nationals. It should. We have already buried over 600,000 of our citizens due to an incompetent federal response. We should not add more to that toll based on a policy that was set in a world before the coronavirus walked our lands.

###

US Embassy Kabul on COVID Lockdown, AFSA Calls For Vaccination Requirement For All Staffers

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

The US Embassy in Kabul issued a Management Notice for an Immediate COVID-19 Lockdown due to surging cases at post. The notice notes that “95% of our cases are individuals who are unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated.” The notice also says “Failure to abide by the Mission’s COVID policies will result in consequences up to and including removal from Post on the next available flight.”
AFSA has issued a statement calling for the Biden Administration to “take swift action to allow the Department of State to require all personnel, including local employees and third-country nationals, serving at our embassies and consulates abroad under Chief of Mission authority, direct-hire and contract alike, to be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 as a condition of their physical presence in the workplace.” AFSA’s vaccination requirement push includes “for those individuals who cannot get vaccinated due to medical reasons or disability or religious belief or practice.”
Below is the AFSA statement:

Our Embassy in Afghanistan has announced that one employee has died and 114 have been infected with Covid-19. Several employees have had to be evacuated from Afghanistan, and others are being treated in an emergency Covid-19 ward at the Embassy that was created because U.S. military hospital facilities are full. The entire Embassy staff has been put on lockdown and nearly all staff members are confined to their quarters around the clock.

At a time when the U.S. military withdrawal is accelerating, attacks on Afghan and Coalition forces are intensifying and the U.S. is seeking to establish a stable and positive presence in Afghanistan after the withdrawal, the damage to our national security and national interests is potentially grave.

AFSA urges the Biden Administration to take swift action to allow the Department of State to require all personnel, including local employees and third-country nationals, serving at our embassies and consulates abroad under Chief of Mission authority, direct-hire and contract alike, to be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 as a condition of their physical presence in the workplace. The only exceptions would be for those individuals who cannot get vaccinated due to medical reasons or disability or religious belief or practice.    

This has always been a matter of life and death, but now it literally has become exactly that for our members and colleagues serving their country abroad. Recent Federal court rulings have upheld requiring vaccination as a condition of employment in specific situations, such as health care. Service at our embassies and consulates should be treated similarly.

 

###

@StateDept Updates Application of U.S. Citizenship Transmission in Assisted Reproductive Technology

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

Via state.gov:

Recognizing the advances in assisted reproductive technology (ART), the State Department is updating our interpretation and application of Section 301 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which establishes the requirements for acquisition of U.S. citizenship at birth.

Children born abroad to parents, at least one of whom is a U.S. citizen and who are married to each other at the time of the birth, will be U.S. citizens from birth if they have a genetic or gestational tie to at least one of their parents and meet the INA’s other requirements. Previously, the Department’s interpretation and application of the INA required that children born abroad have a genetic or gestational relationship to a U.S. citizen parent.

This updated interpretation and application of the INA takes into account the realities of modern families and advances in ART from when the Act was enacted in 1952.

This change will allow increased numbers of married couples to transmit U.S. citizenship to their children born overseas, while continuing to follow the citizenship transmission requirements established in the INA. Requirements for children born to unmarried parents remain unchanged.

At the same time, we remain vigilant to the risks of citizenship fraud, exploitation, and abuse. As with all citizenship and immigration benefits we examine, the Department will implement this policy in a manner that addresses these concerns.

8 FAM 304.3 Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship at Birth – Assisted Reproductive Technology has been updated.

8 FAM 304.3-1  BIRTH ABROAD TO A U.S. CITIZEN GESTATIONAL MOTHER WHO IS ALSO THE LEGAL MOTHER AT THE TIME SHE GIVES BIRTH (Birth mother, but NOT genetic mother)
(CT:CITZ-33;   04-03-2020)

a. A child born abroad to a U.S. citizen gestational mother who is also the legal parent of the child at the time of birth in the location of birth, whose genetic parents are an anonymous egg donor and the U.S. citizen husband of the gestational legal mother, is considered for citizenship purposes to be a person born in wedlock of two U.S. citizens, with a citizenship claim adjudicated under the Immigration and nationality Act (INA) 301(c).

b. A child born abroad to a U.S. citizen gestational mother who is the legal parent of the child at the time of birth in the location of birth, whose genetic parents are an anonymous sperm donor and the U.S. citizen wife of the gestational legal mother, is considered for citizenship purposes to be a person born in wedlock of two U.S. citizens, with a citizenship claim adjudicated under INA 301(c).

c.  A child born abroad to a U.S. citizen gestational mother who is the legal parent of the child at the time of birth in the location of birth, whose genetic parents are an anonymous egg donor and the non-U.S. citizen husband of the gestational legal mother, is considered for citizenship purposes to be a person born in wedlock of a U.S. citizen mother and alien father, with a citizenship claim adjudicated under INA 301(g).

d. A child born abroad to a U.S. citizen gestational mother who is the legal parent of the child at the time of birth in the location of birth, and who is not married to the genetic mother or father of the child at the time of the child’s birth, is considered for citizenship purposes to be a person born out of wedlock of a U.S. citizen mother, with a citizenship claim adjudicated under INA 309(c).

###

Photo of the Day: Secretary Blinken With US Consulate Nuuk Staff #Greenland

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

 

Secretary Blinken Departs Greenland and Thanks U.S. Consulate Nuuk Personnel Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken departs from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on May 20, 2021. Before departing, the Secretary took a photo with U.S. Department of State personnel from U.S. Consulate Nuuk. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

Secretary Blinken Departs Greenland and Thanks U.S. Consulate Nuuk Personnel
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken departs from Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on May 20, 2021. Before departing, the Secretary took a photo with U.S. Department of State personnel from U.S. Consulate Nuuk. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

Secretary Blinken Visits Black Ridge in Greenland
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken visits Black Ridge, in Kangerlussuaq, Greenland on May 20, 2021. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

###

 

American Diplomatic Posts Mark Memorial Day 2021

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

 

###

Overseas Americans May Use Their Expired Passports to Return to the U.S. Until 12/31/21

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

On May 24, the State Department announced that overseas Americans may be able to return to the United States on their expired passports until December 31, 2021 under certain circumstances:

If you are overseas and your passport expired on or after January 1, 2020, you may be able to use your expired passport to return directly to the United States until December 31, 2021.

You qualify for this exception if all the following are true:

    • You are a U.S. citizen.
    • You are currently abroad seeking direct return to the United States.
    • You are flying directly to the United States, a United States territory, or have only short-term transit (“connecting flights”) through a foreign country on your direct return to the United States or to a United States Territory.
    • Your expired passport was originally valid for 10 years. Or, if you were 15 years of age or younger when the passport was issued, your expired passport was valid for 5 years.
    • Your expired passport is undamaged.
    • Your expired passport is unaltered.
    • Your expired passport is in your possession.

You do not qualify for this exception if:

    • You wish to depart from the United States to an international destination.
    • You are currently abroad seeking to travel to a foreign country for any length of stay longer than an airport connection en route to the United States or to a United States territory.
    • Your expired passport was limited in validity.
    • Your expired passport is a special issuance passport (such as a diplomatic, official, service, or no-fee regular passport).
    • Your expired passport is damaged.
    • Your expired passport is altered.
    • Your expired passport is not in your possession.

All other passport rules and regulations remain in effect. The Department of Homeland Security maintains discretion to reject any bearer in accordance with 22 CFR 53.2(b)(7) and 8 CFR 235.1(b).

###

Permission to Speak Freely: End the Shame and Stigma

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

According to the CDC, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It was responsible for more than 47,500 deaths in 2019. In 2019, 12 million American adults seriously thought about suicide, 3.5 million made a plan, and 1.4 million attempted suicide.
Secretary Antony J. Blinken at a Virtual Town Hall with U.S. Mission Nigeria and U.S. Embassy Nairobi Employees and Family Members, April 9, 2021:

“We had the recent news of the death of a member of our State Department family on temporary assignment in Kenya, which is deeply saddening and distressing, and a reminder of how important it is for us to be there for each other and to seek help if we need it without shame.  The global authorized departure policy meant that many of you were separated and isolated from your family members as well as from each other, and Kenya is dealing with heightened security concerns.  In Lagos and Abuja, your movements outside the city centers are restricted, now even more so.”

This is the closest the secretary of state come to acknowledging the reported suicide of a State Department employee in Kenya (see US Embassy Kenya: USG Employee Found Deceased at a Nairobi Hotel). We understand that a diplomatic courier assigned at a post in Germany, temporarily stayed two weeks at the Tribe Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya, prior to his next permanent assignment in Nairobi. He was found deceased at the hotel on April 7, 2021.
We don’t know how people can “seek help if we need it without shame” if the top official could not even give what happened in Kenya a name. Somebody died. True. It was “saddening and distressing”.  True. But we can help by acknowledging what happened there has a name and it has its own realities. A struggle in a dark world of  despair and hopelessness that is as real to those who suffer as the great blue skies you and I live in.
The fight to make it every day, to keep going despite the pain is a valiant battle. We need to remember that the fight is often painful, solitary, and seemingly hopeless. To get rid of shame and end the stigma, we need to talk about this in the open, not in whispers, not by skirting its name. But it has to start at the top. Otherwise, as a blog pal once asked, What FSO is going to risk losing their security clearance by going to MED and saying they are thinking about suicide?” 
Read: 5 Common Myths About Suicide Debunked
Warning Signs and Risk Factors of Suicide
If you’re thinking about suicide, are worried about a friend or loved one, or would like emotional support, the Lifeline network is available 24/7 across the United States. Call 1-800-273-8255.
If you are overseas, please seek help by calling or visiting the health unit or call the Military Crisis Line  or a local Suicide Hotline .

 

Related posts: