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U.S. State Department urges travellers to ‘reconsider’ visiting Jamaica, Colombia

(USA TODAY) — The State Department is urging Americans to “reconsider travel” to Jamaica and Colombia due to crime and, in Colombia’s case, terrorism.

The department regularly assesses risks for Americans abroad and had previously issued travel advisories for both Colombia and Jamaica but reissued them with fresh updates.

“Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts,” the State Department says in its level 3 travel advisory for Jamaica.

The State Department similarly warns of “widespread” violent crimes in Colombia, including homicide, assault and armed robbery and in some places, kidnapping and extortion. Additionally, terrorist and criminal organizations may attack public areas like airports, hotels and restaurants without warning, and due to civil unrest, “demonstrations occur regularly throughout the country” and “protests can become violent and can result in fatalities and injuries.”

“The U.S. Department of State has no higher priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” a State Department spokesperson said. “We take seriously our commitment to provide U.S. citizens with clear, timely, and reliable information about every country in the world so they can make informed travel decisions.”

“Local police do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents,” according to the State Department. “When arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence. Families of U.S. citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities.”

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The State Department adds that emergency services and hospital care vary widely across Jamaica and U.S. government personnel are not allowed to travel to many areas due to increased risk, meaning travelers have limited resources if something goes awry.

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