Burundi Travel Warning

Posted on July 22, 2009

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Burundi and continues to caution Americans that travel outside the capital, Bujumbura, presents significant risks, especially after nightfall. The U.S. Embassy restricts travel of its personnel in Burundi, and certain areas of Bujumbura are off-limits to U.S. government personnel after daylight hours. This replaces the Travel Warning for Burundi dated January 8, 2009, to provide information regarding demobilization of rebel forces after the cease-fire agreement between these groups and the government, as well as revised information on security restrictions for Embassy personnel.

From 1993 to 2006, Burundi was plagued by a civil war that often involved non-governmental and non-combatant targets. In September 2006, the government and the last rebel group not yet party to peace accords, the PALIPEHUTU–FNL (FNL), signed a cease-fire agreement. The FNL leaders agreed to discontinue hostilities and to implement fully the cease-fire agreement. FNL rebels have since begun to demobilize as the group transitions into an officially-recognized political party. However, their presence in demobilization camps has been marked by several disturbances in the camps and surrounding communities.

Crime and banditry are still prevalent in the province of Bujumbura Rural despite the general demobilization.
Crime, often committed by groups of street children or armed bandits, poses the highest risk for foreign visitors to both Bujumbura and Burundi. Common crimes include muggings, burglaries, robberies and carjackings. Visitors should keep car doors locked, windows up, and be careful when stopped in heavy traffic due to the threat of robbery. The U.S. Embassy has received reports of armed criminals ambushing vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura. Due to the lack of resources, local authorities in any part of Burundi often are unable to provide timely assistance during an emergency.

The U.S. Embassy restricts the travel of Embassy personnel in Burundi, and certain areas of the capital are off-limits to U.S. government personnel after nightfall. U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from walking on the streets after dark and from using local public transportation at any time. The Embassy’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) must pre-approve all travel outside a 30 km radius of Bujumbura, and employees must travel on an approved itinerary in two-vehicle convoys equipped with satellite phones and emergency equipment. The RSO may also place further restrictions on employee movement due to changing security conditions, such as requiring alternate routing or a security escort. Within 30 km of the city, employees may travel in single vehicles, but must check in and out with the Embassy. All employee movement outside the city after dark is forbidden. The Embassy recommends that American citizens not travel on national highways from dusk to dawn.

American citizens who travel to or remain in Burundi despite this Travel Warning are urged to contact the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura for information on the latest Embassy security guidelines, and to register at the State Department’s travel registration website. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. Americans without internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura at Avenue des Etats-Unis. The hours for non-emergency American Citizen Services are 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Fridays. The Embassy Consular section can be reached by telephone, including for after hours emergencies, at (257) 22-20-7000, or by fax at (257) 22-22-2926. Security information for American citizens in Burundi is posted at the Embassy’s website.

For further information, consult the Country Specific Information for Burundi and the current Worldwide Caution, available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at http://travel.state.gov. Updated information on travel and security in Burundi is available at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, or by calling a regular toll line at 202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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