USA urges citizens to 'reconsider travel' to Pakistan

Greece at lowest risk level, says US State Department

The U.S. State Department updated its warning system and how it conveys information about the risks of traveling to other countries, in a bid to make these warnings easier to understand.

It stated that Level One, the lowest advisory level, informed USA travellers to "exercise normal precaution", Level Two is "exercise increased caution", Level Three is "reconsider travel", and Level Four is "do not travel".

For each country that has a Level 2 or above, the warning will specify what the risks or threats are and why travelers may need to reconsider travel, exercise caution or not to travel at all.

According to American officials, the travel advisory is "user-friendly" as it is based on the ready-to-understand level of advice ranging from one to four.

The State Department insists the rankings are based exclusively on security conditions in a country, but is aware of the possibility for pushback from governments that are unhappy with their ranking.

Meanwhile, several countries which are ranked at Level Four include Afghanistan, Central African Republic (CAR), Iran, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Syria, South Sudan, Yemen and North Korea. The US has in the past warned against travel to Kenya, prompting complaints that such notifications were unjustified and damaging to the nation's economy.

"But essentially how we assess the threat level in a country hasn't changed". It has also asked citizens not to travel to Jammu and Kashmir while in India.

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In the past, governments of countries where the State Department has issued travel warnings have complained vociferously, usually out of concerns about their tourism industry.

"We needed to make it more accessible to people". Bernier-Toth said US embassies were given the new rankings ahead of time so they could notify the governments of the impending change.

The new page for Cuba on the State Department's travel website states that Americans should, "Reconsider travel to Cuba due to health attacks directed at U.S. Embassy Havana employees". She noted that even some of her colleagues had difficulty understanding the difference between "travel alerts" and "travel warnings" under the previous system.

Travellers are told to "exercise increased caution in Tanzania due to crime, terrorism, and targeting of LGBTI persons".

Cuba, which recently revived diplomatic ties with the USA, was rated Level 3 because of an investigation of health attacks against diplomatic officials.

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

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