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Northwestern University

Emergency Messages

U.S.-Turkey Diplomatic Dispute


In light of the ongoing diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and Turkey – which has led to the suspension of non-immigrant visa services by both countries – the Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) would like to direct Northwestern travelers to a helpful resource on the issue released by the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Advisory Council (OSAC).

 The OSAC document – titled “Turkey Visa Processing Suspension Overview” – provides a summary of the dispute, the reasons for the suspension of visa services, and the impact of the strained relations on the private sector.

 While OGSS does not provide visa procurement services, we are aware that Northwestern has established relationships with Turkish scholars and institutions that require university travel. Therefore, the OSAC report is being referenced as an informational tool for students, staff and faculty.

Tensions in the Korean Peninsula


The Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) has been monitoring the tensions in the Korean Peninsula since the spring 2017 quarter and we are confident that the safety risk is LOW for current and future Northwestern travel to South Korea and Japan.

 We assess the risk as low based on our regular benchmarking with our health and safety peers at other academic institutions, as well as our contacts at the U.S. Department of State’s Overseas Advisory Council, and our counterparts at international organizations in the Midwest Security Analysts’ Roundtable. No university that has been surveyed has canceled travel or suspended programs in the region. Moreover, responses from numerous corporations, the U.S. Embassy in Seoul and various security assistance providers are that business operations remain normal in South Korea and Japan. As of this message, we have not received any communication from concerned students or parents.

 To stay on top of the latest messaging from the U.S. Department of State, Northwestern travelers are encouraged to sign up for the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) and to check the U.S. Embassy in Seoul’s Safety and Security Messages page.

 In the event the security climate in the region deteriorates significantly, Northwestern travelers have evacuation coverage if certain tripwires are met. OGSS has worked closely with our intelligence and evacuation vendor – Drum Cussac – to create an evacuation risk matrix. Students who study at Seoul’s Yonsei University should be aware that the school has a robust emergency management plan which includes specific buildings that are dedicated as evacuation shelters. Contacts at the university have assured their international partners that the climate in South Korea remains calm and routine. Nevertheless, OGSS will continue to reassess the security environment in the region going forward and act accordingly.

Europe Travel Alert


On August 31, 2017, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) issued a Travel Alert for Europe. This alert does not recommend cancelling or deferring travel to Europe, but warns travelers to exercise caution when visiting soft-target locations (tourist attractions, transportation hubs, shopping malls, places of worship, government facilities, etc.) due to recent terrorist incidents in France, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Spain and Finland. This alert expires on November 30, 2017.  

 The U.S. DOS releases Travel Alerts for short-term events that they believe the public should know about when planning travel to a country or region.

 The Office of Global Safety and Security (OGSS) has additional guidance for travelers related to terror threats.

 If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our office.

Study Abroad in Spain - Fall 2017


All Northwestern summer student travel activities in Barcelona had concluded before the August 17 terror attacks, but the OGSS recently provided the following general safety/security advice via email to all NU students enrolled in Spain programs for the fall quarter. Students were also asked to share the message with a parent or guardian.

Impact on Travel in Spain

Since the official terror threat rating in Spain has been at the “high” level since 2015, students may notice more security at many high-traffic areas, including tourist attractions, music venues, sport arenas, transport hubs, public squares, outdoor markets, shopping malls, places of worship, etc. Due to these increased security measures, students should plan for travel delays and disruptions, but also feel confident to explore the country as planned. Businesses in Barcelona (and around the country) are reportedly operating as normal. Nonetheless, if circumstances have raised anxiety, students covered by GeoBlue – NU’s international healthcare provider – are reminded that counseling appointments are included in our plan, and to follow these instructions for securing any health care needs abroad. For students whose health insurance is arranged by their program provider, they should contact a local staff member to make similar arrangements. Spanish authorities have also set up a helpline for people affected by the incidents at (34) 93-214-2124.

Over the next few weeks, Spanish host institutions and/or program providers will likely share valuable tips and on-the-ground information with their students, and we encouraged them to read these messages carefully.

Safety and Security Recommendations: Student Should

  • Stay in a safe place (e.g. in a residence or classroom) and follow the advice of local authorities in the event of security incident
  • Monitor reputable media outlets for news pertaining to possible counter-terrorism raids, and if such an operation takes place nearby, they should avoid the area until the “all clear” is given by police
  • Report any suspicious activity to law enforcement - in an emergency, they should dial 112
  • Register for the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information regarding local safety and security conditions
  • Pay attention to messages from local program faculty and staff
  • Review OGSS’s Terrorism and Travel tips webpage  

Our Mission

OGSS is keeping careful track of world events using multiple sources. We are in touch with the program providers, host institutions, colleagues at other universities, contacts at the U.S. Department of State and our security/evacuation vendor. Students who have questions or concerns about their safety or security, can contact relevant staff in International Program Development, the Study Abroad Office or OGSS.

Update: President Trump's Proposed Travel Ban


On October 17, President Donald Trump’s attempt to ban travel to the U.S. from citizens of Syria, Libya, Iran, Yemen, Chad and Somalia was blocked by two federal judges based in Hawaii and Maryland. Although the Justice Department has since filed an appeal against the decision, the likelihood of the ban coming into full effect is low, as the appeal process has to win in both Hawaii and Maryland. It is not clear how long the entire appeals process will take. It should be noted that the travel ban for citizens from North Korea and some government officials in Venezuela was allowed to go through.  

Northwestern international students and faculty who have the proper visas to work or study in the U.S. are not expected to be affected by the Executive Order in the near-term. For additional information on the issue, please visit our Non-U.S. Citizens Traveling Abroad webpage and the website for the International Office

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