Safety and security

Crime

There is a high risk of crime. Muggings at gun and knife point, bag snatching, pick-pocketing, burglary, car break-ins, and armed car hijackings have all been reported. Avoid walking in the streets or using public transport after dark, even in Bujumbura city centre, and don’t carry large amounts of money. Take care when withdrawing or exchanging cash, and avoid doing so at night. Arrange guards for homes and stay at hotels that have good security. Safeguard valuables and cash. Use hotel safes, where possible. Keep copies of important documents, including your passport and visa, separately. Be wary of who you plan to meet and where, and inform colleagues or family members of your plans.

Local travel

The security situation across Burundi stabilised when the last remaining rebel group was officially disarmed in 2009. However, there have been incursions and clashes between armed groups, including an armed attack on civilian vehicles since that time. This has been in areas where FCO advises against all travel.

The threat of ambush by bandits remains high. If you are travelling in rural areas check the latest security situation with the UN office in Burundi (tel: + 257 22205598) and make contact with your destination before you leave.

Road travel

You may drive in Burundi on a full UK driving licence for the first six months after you arrive. You will then need to get a Burundi driving licence. The standard of driving and roads is poor and there are many serious accidents. Take great care at all times, especially at night as many vehicles do not use lights. The FCO advises avoiding road travel outside of Bujumbura between 5.30pm and 8am. Keep car doors locked and windows closed when driving.

Avoid travelling by road outside of Bujumbura between 5:30pm and 8am. This is due to the security situation and road safety concerns. Access in to and out of Bujumbura city is controlled by police at night.

The standard of driving and roads is poor and there are many serious accidents. Take great care at all times, especially at night as many vehicles do not use lights. Keep car doors locked and windows closed when driving.

Road blocks and document checks are common, and not always official. FCO advise you carry a copy of your passport and visa, but you may be required to produce the originals.

Avoid travelling on collective and public transport (buses and motorbike taxis), due to poor maintenance and low driving standards.

Air travel

Five carriers fly in and out of Burundi: Rwandair, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenyan Airways, South African Airways, Uganda Airlines and Brussels Airlines.

The EU has published a list of air carriers that are subject to an operating ban or restrictions within the EU.

Political situation

Burundi held a series of elections in 2010, which were mainly peaceful. Pierre Nkurunziza was returned as president with a large share of the vote, and his CNDD-FDD Party occupy a majority position in the government. Presidential elections are due to be held in mid 2015. Political demonstrations and protests may become more frequent in the run up to the elections. These demonstrations may become violent. The police have used live ammunition and tear gas against demonstrators in the past. You should therefore avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings.

Consular assistance

There is no British Embassy in Bujumbura. Burundi is covered by the British High Commission in Kigali, Rwanda. However, the British Embassy Liaison Office (telephone: +257 22 24 64 78 or + 257 22 25 03 66; address: Building Old East, Place de L’Independence, Bujumbura), can provide limited advice and assistance. The Belgian Embassy in Burundi is able to provide consular assistance to British nationals. All visitors or long term residents should register with the Belgian Embassy: Boulevard de la Liberté, 9, Bujumbura; telephone: + 257 22 22 32 66 or + 257 22 22 61 76; email: Bujumbura@diplobel.org.

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