Reconsider travel to Eritrea due to COVID-19. Exercise increased caution in Eritrea due to travel restrictions, limited consular assistance, and landmines.
Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for Eritrea due to COVID-19.
Eritrea has resumed some transportation options and business operations (including day cares and schools). Other improved conditions have been reported within Eritrea. Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Eritrea.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Eritrea, as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel outside of Asmara.
Eritrean law enforcement officials routinely block access to foreign nationals in detention. The U.S. Embassy therefore may not receive notification or be allowed access to you if you are detained or arrested.
There are landmines in many remote areas in Eritrea, particularly in Nakfa, AdiKeih, Arezza, the 25 mile-wide region (40 km) between the Setit and Mereb Rivers, and in areas north and west of Keren, areas near Massawa, Ghinda, Agordat, Barentu, Dekemhare, and south of Tessenae.
Read the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Eritrea:
Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.
- Joint Statement of the U.S.-Saudi Arabia Strategic DialogueBy Sam NewsOctober 20, 2020Office of the [Read More…]
- Secretary Antony J. Blinken And Colombian Vice President and Foreign Minister Marta Lucia Ramirez Before Their MeetingBy Sam NewsMay 28, 2021
- ‘All too frequent tragedies demand action to improve judicial security,’ Judge tells Judicial ConferenceBy Sam NewsIn U.S CourtsSeptember 15, 2020“Four federal judges and three family members have been killed since 1979. These horrific tragedies must stop,” Judge David W. McKeague told the Judicial Conference of the United States today.[Read More…]
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- Goldman Sachs Charged in Foreign Bribery Case and Agrees to Pay Over $2.9 BillionBy Sam NewsOctober 22, 2020The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (Goldman Sachs or the Company), a global financial institution headquartered in New York, New York, and Goldman Sachs (Malaysia) Sdn. Bhd. (GS Malaysia), its Malaysian subsidiary, have admitted to conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) in connection with a scheme to pay over $1 billion in bribes to Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials to obtain lucrative business for Goldman Sachs, including its role in underwriting approximately $6.5 billion in three bond deals for 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (1MDB), for which the bank earned hundreds of millions in fees. Goldman Sachs will pay more than $2.9 billion as part of a coordinated resolution with criminal and civil authorities in the United States, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and elsewhere.[Read More…]
- Veterans Community Care Program: Immediate Actions Needed to Ensure Health Providers Associated with Poor Quality Care Are ExcludedBy Sam NewsFebruary 1, 2021The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has implemented contracts with Optum and TriWest to set up networks of community providers as part of the new Veterans Community Care Program (VCCP). However, the two contractors' processes for implementing eligibility restrictions established by the VA MISSION Act, as outlined in their policies and reflected in their contracts, may not consistently exclude all ineligible providers from participating in the VCCP. The VA MISSION Act prohibits providers from participating in the VCCP if they have lost a state medical license, for example, as a result of revocation or termination for cause or due to concerns about poor quality of care. However, VA's contracts with these contractors do not require the verification of providers' history of license sanctions, including a revoked license, in all states during credentialing. Only one of the two contractors has a process that includes verifying providers' licensure history in all states and neither has a sufficient process for continuously monitoring provider licenses. Contractor Processes for Implementing VA MISSION Act Restrictions on Community Care Provider Eligibility In May 2019, VA began tracking providers who do not meet the eligibility restrictions established by the VA MISSION Act. However, this tracking does not address providers removed from VA prior to this date. As of September 2020, VA had deactivated 136 ineligible VA providers from VCCP participation. GAO reviewed data going back to July 1, 2016 and identified an additional 227 providers that had been removed from VA employment and are potentially providing care in the VCCP. VA stated it has no plans to further review these providers. VA officials said these providers were eligible to participate in the VCCP because they were removed from VA employment before the VA MISSION Act restrictions were effective. Thus, there is a continued risk that former VA providers associated with quality of care concerns are participating in the VCCP. The VA MISSION Act of 2018 established a new community care program, the VCCP, aimed at providing care to veterans when it could not reasonably be delivered by providers at VA medical facilities. The act also requires VA to exclude from participation in the VCCP providers who lost a license for violating medical license requirements in any state or who VA removed from employment for quality of care concerns or otherwise suspended from VA employment. The VA MISSION Act included provisions for GAO to report on the implementation of restrictions on certain health care providers' participation in the VCCP. This report examines, among other issues, VA and contractor processes to implement these eligibility restrictions on provider participation in the VCCP. GAO reviewed VA's contracts and contractor policies related to VCCP provider credentialing, interviewed VA and contractor officials, and assessed the provider credentialing requirements and processes. In addition, GAO collected data on former VA providers and compared these data to the database of VCCP providers. GAO is making three recommendations to VA, including that VA require its contractors to have credentialing and monitoring policies that ensure compliance with VA MISSION Act license restrictions and that it assess the risk to veterans when former VA providers with quality concerns continue to provide VCCP care. VA generally agreed with GAO's three recommendations. For more information, contact Sharon M. Silas at (202) 512-7114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- International Security: DOD and State Need to Improve Sustainment Planning and Monitoring and Evaluation for Section 1206 and 1207 Assistance ProgramsBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021In 2006, the United States created two new programs, authorized in Sections 1206 and 1207 of the Fiscal Year 2006 National Defense Authorization Act, to respond to the threats of global terrorism and instability. These programs have provided over $1.3 billion in military and nonmilitary aid to 62 countries and are due to expire in 2011 and 2010, respectively. The Congress mandated that GAO assess the programs. This report addresses the extent to which the programs (1) are consistent with U.S. strategic priorities, (2) are distinct from other programs, (3) address sustainment needs, and (4) incorporate monitoring and evaluation. GAO analyzed data and program documents from the Departments of Defense (DOD) and State (State), and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and interviewed U.S. and host country officials.The Section 1206 and 1207 programs have generally been consistent with U.S. strategic priorities. The Section 1206 program was established to build the military capacity of foreign countries to conduct counterterrorism and stabilization operations. DOD and State have devoted 82 percent of this program's funds to address specific terrorist threats, primarily in countries the U.S. intelligence community has identified as priorities for the counterterrorism effort. The Section 1207 program was established to transfer DOD funds to State for nonmilitary assistance related to stabilization, reconstruction, and security. DOD, State, and USAID have devoted 77 percent of this program's funds to countries at significant risk of instability, mostly those the United States has identified as vulnerable to state failure. Based on agency guidelines, the Section 1206 program is generally distinct from other programs, while the Section 1207 program is not. In most cases, Section 1206 projects addressed urgent and emergent counterterrorism and stabilization priorities of combatant commanders and did so more quickly than other programs, sometimes in a year, whereas Foreign Military Financing (FMF) projects can take up to 3 years to plan. DOD and embassy officials GAO spoke to consistently explained why projects do not overlap those of FMF and other programs, although project proposals GAO reviewed did not always document these distinctions. Section 1207 projects are virtually indistinguishable from those of other foreign aid programs in their content and time frames. Furthermore, the Section 1207 program has entailed additional implementation costs and funding delays beyond those of traditional foreign assistance programs, while the 1206 program has not. The uncertain availability of resources to sustain Section 1206 projects poses risks to achieving long-term impact. Enabling nations to achieve sustainable counterterrorism capabilities is a key U.S. policy goal. The long-term viability of Section 1206 projects is threatened by (1) the limited ability or willingness of partner nations to support new capabilities, as 76 percent of Section 1206 projects are in low- or lower-middle-income countries, and (2) U.S. legal and policy restrictions on using FMF and additional Section 1206 resources for sustainment. In contrast, sustainment risks for Section 1207 projects appear minimal, because State, USAID, and DOD are not restricted from drawing on a variety of overlapping funding sources to continue them. DOD and State have incorporated little monitoring and evaluation into the Section 1206 and 1207 programs. For Section 1206 projects, the agencies have not consistently defined performance measures, and results reporting has generally been limited to anecdotal information. For Section 1207 projects, the agencies have defined performance measures and State requires quarterly reporting on project implementation. However, State has not fully analyzed this information or provided it to DOD to inform program management. As a result, agencies have made decisions to sustain and expand both Section 1206 and 1207 projects without documentation of progress or effectiveness.[Read More…]
- Four Former Minneapolis Police Officers Indicted on Federal Civil Rights Charges for Death of George Floyd; Derek Chauvin Also Charged in Separate Indictment for Violating Civil Rights of a JuvenileBy Sam NewsMay 7, 2021A federal grand jury in Minneapolis, Minnesota returned two indictments that were unsealed today. The first indictment charges former Minneapolis Police Department officers Derek Chauvin, 45; Tou Thao, 35; J. Alexander Kueng, 27; and Thomas Lane, 38, with federal civil rights crimes for their roles in the death of George Perry Floyd Jr.[Read More…]
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- Justice Department Obtains Settlement from San Diego Landlord to Resolve Claims Of Sexual Harassment Against Female TenantsBy Sam NewsJune 3, 2021The Justice Department today announced it has reached an agreement with defendant Larry Nelson to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging that he sexually harassed female tenants while owning and managing San Diego area rental properties.[Read More…]
- Small Business Administration: COVID-19 Loans Lack Controls and Are Susceptible to FraudBy Sam NewsOctober 1, 2020In April 2020, the Small Business Administration (SBA) moved quickly to implement the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides loans that are forgivable under certain circumstances to small businesses affected by COVID-19. Given the immediate need for these loans, SBA worked to streamline the program so that lenders could begin distributing these funds as soon as possible. For example, lenders were permitted to rely on borrowers' self-certifications for eligibility and use of loan proceeds. As a result, there may be significant risk that some fraudulent or inflated applications were approved. Since May 2020, the Department of Justice has publicly announced charges in more than 50 fraud-related cases associated with PPP funds. In April 2020, SBA announced it would review all loans of more than $2 million to confirm borrower eligibility, and SBA officials subsequently stated that they would review selected loans of less than $2 million to determine, for example, whether the borrower is entitled to loan forgiveness. However, SBA did not provide details on how it would conduct either of these reviews. As of September 2020, SBA reported it was working with the Department of the Treasury and contractors to finalize the plans for the reviews. Because SBA had limited time to implement safeguards up front for loan approval, GAO believes that planning and oversight by SBA to address risks in the PPP program is crucial moving forward. SBA's efforts to expedite processing of Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL)—such as the reliance on self-certification—may have contributed to increased fraud risk in that program as well. In July 2020, SBA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) reported indicators of widespread potential fraud—including thousands of fraud complaints—and found deficiencies with SBA's internal controls. In response, SBA maintained that its internal controls for EIDL were robust, including checks to identify duplicate applications and verify account information, and that it had provided banks with additional antifraud guidance. The Department of Justice, in conjunction with other federal agencies, also has taken actions to address potential fraud. Since May 2020, the department has announced fraud investigations related to the EIDL program and charges against recipients related to EIDL fraud. SBA has made or guaranteed more than 14.5 million loans and grants through PPP and EIDL, providing about $729 billion to help small businesses adversely affected by COVID-19. However, the speed with which SBA implemented the programs may have increased their susceptibility to fraud. This testimony discusses fraud risks associated with SBA's PPP and EIDL programs. It is based largely on GAO's reports in June 2020 (GAO-20-625) and September 2020 (GAO-20-701) that addressed the federal response, including by SBA, to the economic downturn caused by COVID-19. For those reports, GAO reviewed SBA documentation and interviewed officials from SBA, the Department of the Treasury, and associations that represent lenders and small businesses. GAO also met with officials from the SBA OIG and reviewed OIG reports. In its June 2020 report, GAO recommended that SBA develop and implement plans to identify and respond to risks in PPP to ensure program integrity, achieve program effectiveness, and address potential fraud. SBA neither agreed nor disagreed, but GAO believes implementation of this recommendation is essential. For more information, contact William B. Shear at (202) 512-4325 or email@example.com.[Read More…]
- Former Police Officer Sentenced to Six Years in Prison for Civil Rights ViolationBy Sam NewsMay 21, 2021A former officer with the St. Paul Police Department in St. Paul, Minnesota, was sentenced today to six years in prison after a jury found him guilty of a civil rights violation.[Read More…]
- Natural Disasters: Economic Effects of Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and IrmaBy Sam NewsSeptember 10, 2020Between January 1980 and July 2020, the United States experienced 273 climate and weather disasters causing more than $1 billion in damages each, according to NOAA. The total cost of damages from these disasters exceeded $1.79 trillion, with hurricanes and tropical storms accounting for over 50 percent of these damages, according to NOAA. Across the regions affected by these hurricanes over the period from 2005 to 2015, CBO estimated that federal disaster assistance covered, on average, 62 percent of the damage costs. GAO has reported that the rising number of natural disasters and reliance on federal disaster assistance is a key source of federal fiscal exposure. GAO was asked to review the costs of natural disasters and their effects on communities. This report examines (1) estimates of the costs of damages caused by hurricanes and hurricanes' effects on overall economic activity and employment in the areas they affected, and (2) actions subsequently taken in those areas to improve resilience to future natural disasters. GAO conducted case studies of Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and Irma, selected for two reasons. First, they were declared a major disaster by the President under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, which establishes key programs through which the federal government provides disaster assistance, primarily through FEMA. Second, they had sizable effects on the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia during the period from 2004 through 2018. GAO analyzed federal agency and other data on costs, economic activity, employment, and recovery and mitigation projects in selected areas affected by these hurricanes. GAO also visited selected recovery and mitigation project sites; interviewed experts and federal, state, and local government officials; and reviewed federal, state, and local government reports and academic studies. Hurricanes Katrina, Sandy, Harvey, and Irma (selected hurricanes) caused costly damages and challenges for some populations in affected communities. In these communities, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimated the cost of damages to be approximately $170 billion for Katrina, $74 billion for Sandy, $131 billion for Harvey, and $52 billion for Irma. These estimates include the value of damages to residential, commercial, and government or municipal buildings; material assets within the buildings; business interruption; vehicles and boats; offshore energy platforms; public infrastructure; and agricultural assets. These hurricanes were also costly to the federal government. For example, in 2016, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that federal spending exceeded $110 billion in response to Katrina and $53 billion in response to Sandy. GAO analysis suggests that the selected hurricanes were associated with widely varying effects on overall economic activity and total employment in affected metropolitan areas and counties. Economic activity was lower than expected in the month of the hurricane or some of the three subsequent months in three of the affected metropolitan areas GAO analyzed. Within one year, average economic activity in these three metropolitan areas was similar to or greater than what it had been the year before the hurricane. Total employment was lower than expected in the month of the hurricane or some of the three subsequent months in 80 of the affected counties GAO analyzed. Total employment was higher than pre-hurricane employment on average in 47 of those counties within one year but remained below pre-hurricane employment on average in the other 33 counties for at least one year. Finally, state and local government officials said that the selected hurricanes had significant impacts on communities, local governments, households, and businesses with fewer resources and less expertise, and that challenges faced by households may have impacted local businesses. Communities affected by selected hurricanes have been taking actions to improve resilience, but multiple factors can affect their decisions. Actions taken after selected hurricanes include elevating, acquiring, and rehabilitating homes; flood-proofing public buildings; repairing and upgrading critical infrastructure; constructing flood barriers; and updating building codes. A community’s decision to take resilience actions can depend on the costs and benefits of those actions to the community. Multiple factors affect these costs and benefits, including the likelihood, severity, and location of future disasters, as well as the amount of federal assistance available after a disaster. Finally, vulnerabilities remain in areas affected by selected hurricanes. For example, state and local government officials indicated that many older homes in these areas do not meet current building codes. In reports to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), states indicate they anticipate that the scope of damages via exposure to weather hazards, such as hurricanes, will likely remain high and could expand across regions affected by the selected hurricanes. In addition, some local governments have projected that population will grow in the regions affected by selected hurricanes. For more information, contact Oliver Richard at 202-512-8424 or firstname.lastname@example.org.[Read More…]
- International Finance: Treasury Has Reduced the Number of Attaches OverseasBy Sam NewsAugust 25, 2021The number of financial attaches that the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) deploys overseas dropped from approximately 30 in 1981 to 7 at the beginning of fiscal year 2005. Treasury has traditionally used financial attaches to monitor and gather information on international economic and financial developments to help shape U.S. international economic policy and to promote U.S. national interests. These attaches are part of the U.S. mission overseas and are typically stationed in U.S. embassies in key countries. Since at least 1981, however, the number of financial attaches placed overseas has been declining in response to changing conditions. Due to congressional interest in these financial attaches, this report describes (1) the role of financial attaches and (2) the process Treasury uses to determine attache placement. In commenting on this report, Treasury considered our report to be fair and accurate. Both Treasury and the Department of State provided technical comments, which we incorporated where appropriate.Financial attaches represent Treasury overseas and cover economic and financial issues relevant to U.S. international economic policies and U.S. national interests, although the role and need for financial attaches have evolved. Specifically, financial attaches conduct monitoring and analysis of macroeconomic and financial issues, including those affecting the private sector. Typically, financial attaches interact with host government financial agencies such as the ministries of finance and central banks, as well as with private sector financial entities. Financial attaches typically work in conjunction with the Economic Section of the U.S. mission and usually share the information they collect with other U.S. agencies. In Afghanistan and Iraq, financial attaches are primarily involved in coordinating economic reconstruction efforts. In general, the role of attaches has evolved over time due to changing Treasury priorities, as well as factors such as technological advances in communications. To some extent, these changes have reduced the necessity for some financial attache posts overseas. Treasury has recently begun to formalize its process for determining attache placement. Previously, the placement of Treasury's attaches was accomplished through an informal process, according to Treasury officials. More recently, Treasury has taken steps to formalize its process by specifying placement criteria it will take into consideration relative to overall Treasury priorities. These criteria include whether the United States has major financial interest in a country or whether there is significant U.S. engagement in a country. However, Treasury officials stated that budget constraints have been a primary factor in determining the number of attaches in recent years. Furthermore, projected rising costs are likely to constrain the number of attaches in the future.[Read More…]
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- Marketing Company Agrees to Pay $150 Million for Facilitating Elder Fraud SchemesBy Sam NewsJanuary 27, 2021Epsilon Data Management LLC (Epsilon), one of the largest marketing companies in the world, has entered into a settlement with the Department of Justice to resolve a criminal charge for selling millions of Americans’ information to perpetrators of elder fraud schemes.[Read More…]
- Government Intervenes in False Claims Act Lawsuits Against Kaiser Permanente Affiliates for Submitting Inaccurate Diagnosis Codes to the Medicare Advantage ProgramBy Sam NewsJuly 30, 2021The United States has intervened in six complaints alleging that members of the Kaiser Permanente consortium violated the False Claims Act by submitting inaccurate diagnosis codes for its Medicare Advantage Plan enrollees in order to receive higher reimbursements.[Read More…]
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