State Department official discusses citizens' rights while abroad and Somalia child abuse crisis

Michelle Bernier-Toth, who runs overseas services for American citizens abroad, recently spoke to Atlanta's Somali American Community Center about young Somali-native U.S. citizens being held against their will and abused in Kenyan and Somaliland camps disguised as reform schools. So far, around 20 young Americans have been rescued from such camps and returned to their families. The State Department wants local Somalis to encourage families to conduct thorough research before sending young people away. There are U.S. resources available to victims and their families. 

Michelle Bernier-Toth
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Michelle Bernier- Toth, the head of the office of Overseas Citizen Services at the State Department 

Michelle Bernier-Toth

Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary Michelle Bernier- Toth, the head of the office of Overseas Citizen Services at the State Department 

Bernier-Toth also reiterated the following regarding American citizens' rights while abroad: 

  • Though not mandatory, citizens can enroll in the State Department's travel program to ensure communication with the U.S. while abroad, at https://step.state.gov/
  • Travelers going to Somalia where there is no embassy, can enroll at the Nairobi embassy 
  • If you are held against your will, treated unfairly or asked for bribes while traveling through a foreign airport, immediately notify that country's U.S. embassy with as many details as possible
  • If you are treated poorly at a U.S. embassy, first contact the embassy's consular department (locate contact information at https://www.usembassy.gov/ or https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en.html); or as a second course of action, contact the Washington D.C. consular office at toll-free 888-407-4747 (from U.S. and Canada) or +1 202-501-4444 (from abroad)
  • If you have problems getting in or out of the U.S. due to watch list or visa issues, contact the Department of Homeland Security's traveler redress program at https://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip
Section  English
Category   Community
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