Duke Loosens Travel Restrictions for Kenya

Published April 4, 2008

As of the beginning of April, Duke students can once again travel through Nairobi, Kenya when traveling to various places in Africa. “We are pleased that the situation in Kenya is improving, and that we feel comfortable with students traveling through Nairobi en route to other destinations,” says Gilbert Merkx, vice provost for international affairs at Duke. “The improved situation has allowed us to loosen restrictions on travel to some areas of Kenya; however, Nairobi is still approved for transit only, and we still have a restriction on travel to border areas with Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and the northwest border area with Uganda. Eldoret, where some of the worst violence occurred, is also still off limits for Duke undergraduates.”

When Duke’s new travel policy went into effect in January, 2008 the entire country of Kenya was placed on the restricted travel list for undergraduates because of the civil unrest following the disputed elections the previous month.  The restriction caused many faculty and students at Duke to have to rethink their plans for summer projects since Nairobi is a major airport hub for East Africa. The change in travel restrictions means that students traveling to Africa for projects with the Duke Global Health Institute, DukeEngage, WISER, or other Duke programs can once again include Nairobi en-route to their destinations.

On March 21, the U.S. State Department loosened travel restrictions for U.S. Government personnel after the Kenyan parliament ratified a power-sharing agreement on March 18. 

“As soon as the U.S. State Department began rethinking travel restrictions, the International Travel Oversight Committee (ITOC) decided to review Duke’s restrictions,” says Merkx.  The Duke International Travel Policy restricted regions list is based on recommendations that the ITOC makes to the Provost. It is reviewed twice a year in its entirety, but updated whenever specific conditions warrant.

“We will continue to monitor the situation,” says Merkx. “Our hope is that Kenya will quickly return to stability, but our priority will always be the safety of Duke students, staff and faculty.”

More information about the Duke International Travel Policy is available at http://www.international.duke.edu/