Foreign travel advice

Democratic Republic of the Congo

Summary

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The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to the provinces of Kasaï, Kasaï Central, Kasaï Oriental, Haut-Uele, Haut Lomami, Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu, Maniema and Tanganyika, areas to the west and east of Kananga including Tshikapa and Mwene-Ditu (as shown on the map), and within 50km of the border with the Central African Republic and South Sudan and within a 100km radius of the town of Kananga.

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the cities of Goma and Bukavu and to the districts of N’djili and Kimbanseke in Kinshasa.

Public gatherings and demonstrations can quickly turn violent in DRC. In September and December 2016, violence relating to political protests led to dozens of fatalities in Kinshasa and other major cities. You should avoid travelling around Kinshasa and other large cities on and around days of planned protests or large gatherings, including travel to and from N’Djili airport.

In particular, you should avoid areas where demonstrations may take place, including universities, political party headquarters, the parliament and the offices of the electoral commission. If a demonstration or disturbance takes place, leave quickly and don’t attempt to watch or photograph it.

In the event of serious unrest, commercial flights may be suspended, roads blocked and borders closed, making it difficult to leave the country. Internet connections and mobile phone networks may have reduced services or be cut off. Schools may be closed. Previous periods of unrest have seen an increased military and police presence in Kinshasa and other major cities, with stop-and-search checkpoints appearing in some areas, especially after dark.

The political and security situation in DRC remains uncertain ahead of elections expected to take place before the end of 2017. General public strikes (‘ville morte’) or demonstrations may be called with little or no notice, and can quickly turn violent in the DRC.

The body of the former opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi is expected to return to the DRC from Belgium at some point in the future. You should expect large crowds in Kinshasa on that day. Access to N’Djili airport may be limited. Monitor local media and this advice for further updates.

Consider making contingency plans in the event of demonstrations, including keeping a stock of essential supplies and up-to-date travel documents and visas. See how to prepare for a crisis overseas and information on how to contact the British Embassy.

There are limits to the assistance the FCO can provide in a crisis, depending on the security and transport situation. You shouldn’t assume that the FCO will be able to provide assistance to leave the country in the event of serious unrest.

The security situation in eastern DRC remains unstable. The continued presence of armed groups, military operations against them, intercommunal violence and an influx of refugees from neighbouring countries all contribute to a deterioration in the political, security and humanitarian situation. There are continued reports of kidnappings, including of staff from international NGOs. While British government staff do visit Goma, they aren’t always in the area, and as with anywhere outside of Kinshasa the British Embassy’s ability to offer consular assistance is severely limited.

The lack of infrastructure throughout the country and continued insecurity in eastern DRC often prevent the British Embassy in Kinshasa from being able to extend normal levels of consular assistance to British nationals anywhere in the DRC other than Kinshasa.

Before considering travel to Democratic Republic of the Congo you should read this travel advice carefully, keep up to date with the latest security situation and subscribe to e-mail alerts for updates to this travel advice. Any updates to travel advice will also be posted on the UK in DRC’s Facebook page and twitter channel.

Street crime and robbery, including by individuals posing as plain clothes police, is common. Beware of gangs promising you cut price gold and diamonds. International non-governmental organisations in Kinshasa and Goma have been targeted. Take extra care at night. See Crime

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, attacks can’t be ruled out. See Terrorism

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.