(CMR) The United States has advised citizens to reconsider travel to Jamaica due to crime and medical services.
In a Level 3 Advisory issued on 23 January, the Department of State also said that U.S. government personnel under Chief of Mission (COM) security responsibility are prohibited from traveling to many areas due to increased risk.
Jamaica recorded 33 murders in the first 13 days of 2024, with several other killings since then, including a nine-year-old boy who was chased and killed by gunmen on Friday, 26 January.
According to the advisory, violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common in Jamaica, with sexual assaults occurring frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.
The US said local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents, and when arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence.
“Families of U.S. citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities. The homicide rate reported by the Government of Jamaica has for several years been among the highest in the Western Hemisphere,” the advisory stated.
U.S. government personnel under COM security responsibility are prohibited from traveling to some areas, from using public buses, and from driving outside of prescribed areas of Kingston at night.
The State Department also warned that emergency services and hospital care vary throughout the island, and response times and quality of care may vary from U.S. standards.
It warned that public hospitals are under-resourced and cannot always provide high-level or specialized care. Private hospitals require payment upfront before admitting patients and may not have the ability to provide specialized care. Ambulance services are not always readily available, especially in rural areas, and are not always staffed by trained personnel, the advisory continued.
“We strongly encourage you to obtain traveler’s insurance, including medical evacuation insurance, before traveling to Jamaica. The Department of State does not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance,” the warning stated.
The State Department has also issued an advisory for the Bahamas, which has recorded 18 murders since the start of 2024, urging citizens to exercise increased caution due to crime.
The Level 2 advisory said the majority of crime occurs on New Providence (Nassau) and Grand Bahama (Freeport) islands. People are urged to exercise caution in Nassau, and to practice increased vigilance in the “Over the Hill” area (south of Shirley Street) where gang-on-gang violence has resulted in a high homicide rate primarily affecting the local population.
Violent crimes, such as burglaries, armed robberies, and sexual assaults, occur in both tourist and non-tourist areas. Be vigilant when staying at short-term vacation rental properties where private security companies do not have a presence, the advisory continued.