Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Updated: Why Don't Embassies Start Email Lists of Citizens in the Area

I was struck by a line in one of the news stories about Mumbai right now where terrorists are targeting Brits and Americans. The US Embassy in Mumbai was quoted saying something like, "We're working on a Wardens Briefing for Americans visiting now." As though any American in the area weren't riveted to a TV set already.

Embassies need quicker ways to get the word out to citizen travelers. They should set up an email list and make it easy for anyone to join. All you'd need is a computer terminal in the airports, plus an online site. Getting on the list would be strictly voluntary, and one could choose for which dates they'd like to remain on the list.

The email list would only be used in times of critical importance (that is so say, very rarely) and also each new name should be sent, via autoresponder, a list of handy info from that embassy (number to call if you get in trouble; .gov web site; visiting guidelines, etc.).

I've been in quite a few countries now in times of political unrest - ranging from bomb threats in Rome, to Maoist troubles in Nepal, to the US embassy burning in Belgrade. Would have been nice to get a friendly little note from my Embassy at those times.

UPDATE: Since I posted the blog above, I received word that the US Embassy in Belgrade does offer an email plus an SMS service to US citizens living in Serbia. In fact during this Spring's Kosovo-related crisis, they emailed folks six times with updates. Other Embassies also have email lists, called "IBRS". You can sign up for free at the US State Dept site here.


Anonymous said...

Rosemary, dear girl--

Your idea is good. I hope you will send a copy of this suggestion to the U.S. State Dep't.

Sister Sal

Angelene said...

I am not sure about other countries, but I know that my homeland has http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/
where you can register to be contacted in emergencies like you have described...
It's a really good idea.
Loving the blog BTW Rosemary, I found it googling, and coincidently joined your facebook group a few weeks back.