Update for the CIS Abroad Community Regarding the Escalating Situation in the Middle East

Oct 20, 2023 1:14:01 PM

CIS Abroad is closely monitoring the situation in Israel, Palestine, and the surrounding area.  We are aware that there are growing concerns about violence spreading in the region.  CIS Abroad does not operate programs in Palestine or Israel, nor do we currently operate programs where there are concerns that this conflict may spill over.  

We have let all current students know that they are to avoid travel to the region surrounding Israel and Palestine.  We are also continuing to update them on demonstrations and protests that should be avoided in their host cities.  

US University partners, students, and parents are concerned, as we all are, about instability in the Middle East.  We wish for a peaceful resolution, and we sincerely hope that innocent people on all sides are spared as the various parties involved work towards that end.  

Since the attacks by Hamas militants that precipitated the current crisis, on October 7th, 2023 the US State Department has not changed any Travel Advisory Level outside of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Lebanon.  On October 19th, the US Department of State put out a Worldwide Caution statement.  It would take an extraordinary escalation, involving several regional powers, for Travel Advisory Levels to be elevated as far away as Europe, UK, Latin America, Asia, and Australia where our programs are based.  The CIS Abroad Risk Management Team currently does not anticipate that this crisis will result in the US State Department issuing a ‘Reconsider Travel’ or a “Do Not Travel” warning for  locations where we operate even if the situation continues to deteriorate.  

There is no indication that this conflict will move beyond the Middle East.  Nevertheless we are including here information on how decisions are made about where we can safely operate programs.    

The following is an excerpt from the CIS Abroad Crisis and Emergency Response Plan:

Cancellation of the Program

Cancellation or suspension of any program may result if;

  1. The program location changes to a US State Department Level 3 or Level 4 designation

CIS Abroad Policy regarding operating programs in areas with State Department level 3 and level 4 designation: CIS Abroad may choose to not operate programs in countries with a US State Department Level 3 (“Reconsider Travel”) and will not operate programs in countries with a Level 4 (“Do Not Travel”) designation 

CIS Abroad will operate in countries with a US State Department Level 1 (“Exercise Normal Precautions”) or Level 2 designation (“Exercise Increased Caution”), however if there are areas within that Level 2 country that have been designated Level 3 or 4 the program will be coordinated to avoid the areas with Level 3 or 4 designations.

  1. CIS Abroad deems it necessary to cancel or suspend the program for any other reason, i.e., the safety and welfare of the participants are in jeopardy.

More information on the US Department of State’s Travel Advisories and Levels can be found here.

CIS Abroad will continue to monitor the US Department of State’s Travel Advisories, the US Department of State’s Overseas Security and Advisory Council’s safety briefings, international news sources, and safety assessments compiled by international insurance and safety organizations  to ensure that we are updated on the latest information.  We will also continue to work closely with our international partners abroad to ensure that our participants are advised of any local protests, demonstrations, or other factors that may impact their experience on site.  

10.24.23 Additional information to note: 

We have received some questions about the cancellation of programs. We regularly monitor risk levels and participate in the OSAC (Overseas Security Advisory Council) academic working group; we are not hearing that US citizens or students should not travel to the places where we operate.  If the State Dept raises the level of the alert and we can no longer operate the program, our refund policy will apply and we will refund all recoverable costs. Those vary program to program and vary according to how far into the program a student is. Please note the section called “Once Abroad (On the Program)” and the link to CFAR/IFAR insurance that you can purchase should you wish to.