Travel Warnings

Travel Warning – Burundi

Last Updated:

United States Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520

January 08, 2009

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The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Burundi and continues to caution Americans against non-essential travel outside the capital, Bujumbura.  The U.S. Embassy restricts the travel of its personnel in Burundi, and certain areas of Bujumbura are off-limits to U.S. government personnel.  This replaces the Travel Warning for Burundi dated April 22, 2008 to provide information concerning the failure of government and rebel forces to implement a cease-fire agreement, and revised information on security restrictions for Embassy personnel.

Burundi was plagued by a civil war from 1993 to 2006 that often involved non-governmental and non-combatant targets.  In September 2006, the government and the last rebel group not party to peace accords, the PALIPEHUTU–FNL (FNL), signed a cease-fire agreement.  However, many of the cease-fire provisions have not been implemented.  Rebel forces still retain the capability to conduct indirect fire attacks on the capital.  In April 2008, rebel forces engaged Burundian military units in and around the Bujumbura city limits, though government troops quickly overcame them.  The FNL leaders agreed to discontinue hostilities and to implement fully the cease-fire agreement.  Despite the cessation of hostilities, the FNL are still present throughout Bujumbura Rural, which surrounds the capital city.  Both sides have not yet completed a final peace agreement.

Crime, often committed by groups of armed bandits or street children, poses the highest risk for foreign visitors to both Bujumbura and Burundi in general.  Common crimes include muggings, burglaries, robberies, and carjackings.  Visitors should be careful when stopped in heavy traffic due to the threat of robbery by roving bands of criminals.  The U.S. Embassy has received reports of armed criminals ambushing vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura.  U.S. Government personnel are prohibited from walking on the streets after dark and from using local public transportation at any time.  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 Bujumbura, the capital, are off-limits to Embassy personnel.  The Embassy’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) must pre-approve all travel outside the capital by U.S. Embassy personnel, and employees must travel in two-vehicle convoys.  The RSO also requires additional security precautions for  U.S. Embassy personnel traveling north to Cibitoke and south to Rumonge along the national highways.  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 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 Travel Alert, available on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Internet website at  Updated information on travel and security in Burundi is available at 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the U.S. and Canada, and for callers in other countries, a regular toll line at 202-501-4444.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).