Security Message for U.S. Citizens – Increase in Crime in Certain Areas of Bujumbura (November 4, 2014)

November 4, 2014

Over the last few weeks there has been an increase in crime in certain neighborhoods of Bujumbura, particularly after dark.  The U.S. Embassy reiterates its advice to all U.S. citizens to exercise caution and maintain security awareness at all times by applying the following measures:

In your home:

  1. Do not leave valuables or large amounts of cash in your house. These items are best kept locked in a secured area at work.
  2. Only give your keys to a trusted person. Do not leave them with others such as the guards. Do not leave your keys in the door.
  3. Keep your doors and vehicle locked even when you are at home.
  4. Keep your phone in your safe haven area.

In your car:

  1. Always have your keys ready as you approach your car and be on the lookout for individuals who are waiting close to your car. Maintain awareness at all times especially when entering and exiting your vehicle.
  2. Make sure your doors are locked and windows are up at all times while driving.
  3. Remember to fasten your seat belt.
  4. Never leave valuables in your vehicle.
  5. Try to park in well-lit areas at night and do not park far from your intended destination.
  6. If you believe a vehicle is following you, do not continue going to your destination. Instead, drive to a safe place.

On your way home:

  1. Be unpredictable.  Vary your routes and times of arrival and departure.
  2. Be alert to your surroundings.  Constantly look in your rear view mirror and be aware of cars behind you.  When driving on the road to your house, scan the area to ensure there are no individuals loitering near your property.  Be on heightened alert when nearing your residence, as this is perhaps the most dangerous part of your journey.  At night, use your high beams for better visibility.  If you see anything suspicious as you are pulling up to your gate do not pull in, but drive to another destination.
  3. Do not stop directly in front of your gate.  Leave enough room between your vehicle and the gate to allow yourself to drive off if someone suspicious approaches.
  4. Check your lighting.  The area outside your gate should be lit well enough to allow you to see in a 10-meter radius.  Clear vegetation from this area.

While Walking:

  1. Avoid walking around Bujumbura after dark.
  2. Try to walk in groups.
  3. Never display cash or jewelry, and do not carry large amounts of cash or valuables.
  4. Beware of street children who may be setting you up for pick-pocketing.
  5. Avoid areas such as alleyways and overgrown brush where assailants can easily conceal themselves.

Never resist being robbed or if confronted by someone with a weapon. Always have emergency numbers pre-programmed in your phone and written down in an easily accessible place.  Trust your instincts.  If a situation feels wrong, move on.

Facts about crime:

  1. Bujumbura has a high crime rate.
  2. Crime tends to increase during the hours of darkness.
  3. Criminals tend to target victims where speed and surprise are to their advantage.
  4. There is usually a spike in crime during the Christmas and New Year season.
  5. Criminals tend to select victims they consider easy targets.

U.S. Embassy Bujumbura strongly recommends that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Burundi enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. Embassy to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website at, where you can find current Travel Warnings, including the Travel Warning for Burundi, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for Burundi at

For additional information, refer to the “Traveler’s Checklist” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. Embassy for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free from within the United States and Canada, or 1-202-501-4444 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).  Follow us on Twitter at and Facebook at, to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura is located on the corner of Avenue des Etats-Unis and Avenue du Cinquantenaire, and is open from 7:30 to 17:15 Monday through Thursday and 7:30 to 12:30 on Friday.  The telephone number is +257-22-20-7000.  If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance, the emergency number for the U.S. Embassy is +257-22-20-7318, or +257-79-93-88-41.