Here’s why the U.S. issued a travel warning for Jamaica

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WASHINGTON D.C., DC — A second travel warning to a popular tropical vacation destination could derail travelers’ plans, according to the U.S. State Department.

The U.S. government had already issued a travel warning for the Bahamas and now they are issued a warning for Jamaica due to an increase in crime.

The newest warning has it at a level 3 travel advisory. The U.S. government raised the alert because of an increase in violent crime and murders.

READ: U.S. advises travelers heading to the Bahamas to ‘exercise increased caution.’ Here’s why.

This is the second highest level, meaning you should reconsider traveling there. This comes just days after a travel warning was issued for the Bahamas due to a string of murders.

The state department said in its warning that violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.

U.S. officials added that local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. 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, U.S. officials said. The homicide rate reported by the government of Jamaica has for several years been among the highest in the Western Hemisphere.

U.S. government personnel under COM security responsibility are prohibited from traveling to certain areas, from using public buses, and from driving outside of prescribed areas of Kingston at night.

Another thing U.S. officials noted was an issue with medical services in Jamaica. They warned emergency services and hospital care vary throughout the island and response times and quality of care may vary from U.S. standards. Public hospitals are under-resourced and cannot always provide high-level or specialized care.

Private hospitals require payment upfront before admitting patients and may not have the ability to provide specialized care, officials said. Ambulance services are not always readily available, especially in rural areas, and are not always staffed by trained personnel.

The state department encouraged travelers to get traveler’s insurance, including medical evacuation insurance, before traveling to Jamaica. The state department does not pay medical bills.

Traveling to Jamaica?

If you decide to travel to Jamaica:

  • Do not attempt to bring firearms or ammunition. This includes stray rounds, shells or empty casings. The penalties for carrying firearms and/or ammunition, even inadvertently, are severe, and can include lengthy prison sentences.
  • Avoid walking or driving at night.
  • Avoid public buses.
  • Avoid secluded places or situations.
  • Do not physically resist any robbery attempt.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and keep a low profile.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Jamaica.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.

Violence and shootings occur regularly in many neighborhoods, communities, and parishes in Jamaica.

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