SAFETY TIPS

SAFETY AND SECURITY

BUBANZA AND CIBITOKE PROVINCES

Border security is a concern in the provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke due to the various violent clashes in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and occasional cross-border movement by armed groups.

Banditry, small arms trafficking, kidnappings and attacks on civilians by former soldiers, rebels and youth gangs occur.

POLITICAL TENSIONS

There are tensions throughout the country since the contentious presidential elections of July 2015. The situation is particularly worrisome in Bujumbura, where violence including grenade attacks and exchange of gunfire has resulted in several deaths and injuries since July 2015.

Day or night, be extremely vigilant throughout the country and in crowded places such as churches, markets, cafés and bus stations. Monitor the news for outbreaks of violence.

SECURITY SEARCHES

Security forces have the authority to conduct searches at any time of homes and vehicles, in order to allegedly recover weapons. Car searches seem to be conducted randomly, usually at roadblocks. Foreigners have been subjected to both car and home searches.

To search a house, officers must present their identification card but don’t require a search warrant. Cooperate with the officer. Should you encounter problems, request to contact the Consulate in Bujumbura or the High Commission to Kenya in Nairobi.

Consular assistance contact information

CHECK POINTS

There are frequent checkpoints throughout the country. Travellers have reported incidents of harassment, intimidation and physical violence at checkpoints, particularly at night.

ELECTIONS

Presidential elections are due to take place on May 20, 2020. Demonstrations could occur before, during and after the elections.

  • Monitor local and international media for the latest information

DEMONSTRATIONS

Demonstrations and mass gathering occur occasionally, particularly in Bujumbura, and have the potential to turn violent. They can also lead to disruptions to traffic and public transportation.

  • Avoid areas where demonstrations and large gatherings are taking place
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities
  • Monitor local media for information on ongoing demonstrations

More about mass gatherings (large-scale events)

TERRORISM

There is a threat of terrorism. Terrorist attacks could occur at any time. Targets could include:

  • government buildings, including schools
  • places of worship
  • airports and other transportation hubs and networks
  • public areas such as tourist attractions, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, shopping centres, markets, hotels and other sites frequented by foreigners

Always be aware of your surroundings when in public places.

CRIME

Incidents of muggings, purse snatching and pickpocketing occur. Crime is often committed by children. Criminal activity increases at night.

There is a risk of assault if you’re walking or jogging alone, particularly on roads around Lake Tanganyika. Avoid walking, driving or taking public transportation after dark anywhere in the country.

Keep valuables, travel documents, and cash in safe locations, such as in hotel safes. Keep separate and digital copies of important documents, including your passport.

KIDNAPPING

Kidnapping for ransom occurs and criminals have targeted foreigners in the past.

WOMEN’S SAFETY

Sexual assault, including rape, is common. Be aware that in some jurisdictions, the victim is required to provide food during the perpetrator’s incarceration.

Safe-travel guide for women

SWIMMING

Swimming in lakes and rivers is unsafe because of the possibility of being attacked by wildlife and the risk of catching water-borne diseases. Check with local authorities for the latest information.

ROAD SAFETY

Road conditions vary throughout the country but is generally dangerous due to:

  • unmarked and damaged roads
  • limited street lights and traffic signals
  • erratic and reckless driving habits

Avoid driving unless you are familiar with local conditions. If hiring a driver, make sure to do so through a reputable company.

You should travel by convoy and only during the day. Travelling outside Bujumbura puts you at higher risk.

If you must drive:

  • always respect security rules and procedures
  • check information on road security on a daily basis
  • carry multiple spare tires

During the rainy season, many roads are only accessible with four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Service stations are rare, fuel shortages are frequent and roadside assistance is not available outside the capital.

In the event of an accident, leave the scene without stopping and go to the nearest police station or, if necessary, to the hospital.

You may encounter legitimate roadblocks. Be aware, however, that criminals are known to impersonate security forces and set up unofficial roadblocks to solicit bribes.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Avoid using taxis. Drivers often operate within a criminal network. If the use of a taxi is unavoidable, hire one from a reputable company.

You should also avoid using public buses. Vehicle and road conditions are the cause of frequent and serious accidents.

AIR TRAVEL

We do not make assessments on the compliance of foreign domestic airlines with international safety standards.

General information about foreign domestic airlines

GENERAL SECURITY INFORMATION

Tourist facilities are very limited. You should select local accommodation and transportation wisely, with security in mind.

Local tour operators, including those offering adventure activities, may not offer safety standards and equipment that correspond to those found in Canada.

Telecommunications are poor. Power outages are common and can affect essential services.

IDENTIFICATION

You should carry photo identification at all times. To limit the risk of your passport being lost or stolen, carry only a photocopy of it.