On Jan. 31, the U.S. State Department issued a new travel alert for Kenya, advising that U.S. citizens "should strongly consider the risks of travel to Kenya at this time."

The alert comes during continued violence in Kenya following disputed presidential elections on Dec. 27. To date, more than 800 people have died in clashes between opposing political factions, and more than 300,000 have been forced from their homes, according to news reports.

On Friday, representatives of the rival parties signed an agreement to complete talks within 15 days to end the political crisis, news agencies reported. The agreement was mediated by former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan.

On Jan. 30, the State Dept. authorized non-emergency personnel and family members to relocate from Kisumu to Nairobi. The department also urged U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the cities of Kisumu, Nakuru and Naivasha, and to defer all non-essential travel to the Nyanza, Western, and Rift Valley provinces.

"The situation in Kenya is volatile and subject to change on short notice," the State Dept.'s alert noted.

The Kenya Tourist Board's Feb. 1 update said that areas of civil unrest were reported around the cities of Kisumu, Kericho and Eldoret, as well as in high-density housing estates in outer Nairobi.

The tourist board said that it now considers the route between the Mara and past Norok town to be safe and secure, a passageway it had not considered safe in recent days. The tourist board also said that it now feels that the road through Naivasha and on to Nakuru is secure "after confirmation that traffic has been moving without a problem." Lake Nakura National Park was deemed secure for visitors with Kenya Wildlife Services rangers on duty.

To contact reporter Michelle Baran, send e-mail to [email protected].

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