Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Travel Warning – Burundi (December 13, 2015)

December 13, 2015

The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Burundi and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Burundi depart as soon as it is feasible to do so. As a result of continuing violence, the Department of State ordered the departure of dependents of U.S. government personnel and non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Burundi on December 13. The U.S. Embassy is able to offer only very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in Burundi. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on November 3, 2015.

Political violence persists throughout Burundi in the aftermath of the country’s contested elections, an attempted coup d’etat and the debate over the President standing for a third term. Armed groups operate in Burundi and gunfire and grenade attacks occur with frequency, but are usually not directed at foreigners. If you encounter such a situation, stay indoors in a ground floor interior room away from doors and windows. Government command and control of the armed forces and security services is not complete. Police and military checkpoints throughout the country have the potential to seriously restrict freedom of movement. Police have also searched the homes of private U.S. citizens as a part of larger weapons searches.

U.S. citizens interested in departing Burundi should note that departure plans can be subject to change because of safety and security factors as well as varying availability of commercial transport. U.S. citizens interested in departing should therefore monitor the media, check with airlines to verify flight schedules, and also check U.S. Embassy Bujumbura’s website for the latest consular information, including security messages. The U.S. Embassy continues to monitor potential airport and land border closures.

Demonstrations, gatherings, and even sporting events that are intended to be peaceful can turn violent without advance warning. For this reason, U.S. citizens should routinely monitor local media sources and the Internet for reports of demonstrations and unrest, and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind.

Travel outside of Bujumbura presents significant risks, especially after nightfall. The U.S. embassy limits and monitors the travel of its personnel in Burundi. All movement by embassy employees outside the city from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. is prohibited. Likewise, U.S. citizens should not travel on national highways from dusk to dawn. Armed criminals ambush vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura. Keep vehicle doors locked and windows up when stopped in heavy traffic.

Corruption is endemic in Burundi and contributes to an environment where the rule of law is not respected. Criminals who have bribed local officials may operate with impunity.

For more information:

  • See the State Department’s travel website for the Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Specific Information for Burundi.
  • See Embassy Bujumbura’s website for the latest emergency and security messages for U.S. citizens.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura, located on the corner of Avenue des Etats-Unis and Avenue du Cinquantenaire, at +257-22-20-7000, 7:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday. After-hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is +257-22-20-7318, or +257-79-93-88-41.
  • Emergency calls may also be placed through the Department of State at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.
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