Burundi - Consular Information Sheet
December 12, 2000
WARNING (ISSUED DECEMBER 7, 2000): The Department of State
warns U.S. citizens to defer travel to Burundi due to the uncertain
security situation within Burundi and the surrounding Great Lakes
On the evening of December 4, 2000, two people were injured when
a Sabena passenger flight was fired upon and hit by machine gun
rounds as it was landing at Bujumbura's International Airport.
Earlier that same day, a rebel faction released a press statement
warning foreigners to leave Burundi for their safety.
Burundi has been involved in a civil war since 1993. Fighting
can be intense and has increasingly involved attacks on the capital,
Bujumbura. On October 12, 1999, two expatriate employees of United
Nations organizations were shot execution-style during an ambush
in Muzye, Rutana Province. On November 23, 1999, a hand grenade
was thrown into the central market in downtown Bujumbura, killing
five and injuring 14 others.
Extremist groups are active throughout the Great Lakes region,
and some have committed or threatened violence against U.S. citizens
and interests. One such extremist group that operates out of northeastern
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) specifically targeted and
killed U.S. citizens in March 1999 in southwestern Uganda. Several
international non-governmental organizations have been targeted
and robbed by armed assailants in their offices, on the road,
and in their homes.
The U.S. Embassy operates with a reduced staff and restricts
U.S. Government personnel from traveling outside Bujumbura, the
capital, due to unpredictable incidents of violence throughout
Burundi. As a result of the ongoing conflict, U.S. Government
personnel's travel in Bujumbura may be limited based on most recent
information of the Embassy's security officer. In addition, family
members are prohibited from accompanying U.S. Government employees
assigned to Burundi. Given the increased possibility of attacks
at the airport during darkness or hours of curfew, U.S. Government
personnel are strictly prohibited from flying to and from Burundi
during those times.
U.S. citizens in Burundi should establish and maintain contact
with the U.S. Embassy and consider their own personal security
in determining whether to remain in the country.
The Government of Burundi maintains a curfew for Bujumbura, currently
from midnight to 5 a.m. The U.S. Embassy maintains a curfew for
its staff, currently from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. (Please note that
the curfew changes from time to time due to changing security
conditions. Contact the U.S. Embassy for the most up-to-date curfew
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Burundi is a small, inland African
nation currently undergoing a period of instability following
the assassination of Burundi's first democratically elected president
in 1993. Facilities for tourism, particularly outside the capital,
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport, visa, and evidence of
immunization against yellow fever and meningococcal meningitis
are required. Only those travelers resident in countries where
there is no Burundian Embassy are eligible for entry stamps, without
a visa, at the airport upon arrival. These entry stamps are not
a substitute for a visa, which must be obtained from the Burundi
Immigration Service within 24 hours of arrival. Travelers without
a visa are not permitted to leave the country. Travelers should
obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of
the Republic of Burundi, Suite 212, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue, NW,
Washington, D.C. 20007; telephone (202) 342-2574 or the Permanent
Mission of Burundi to the United Nations in New York. Overseas
inquiries may be made at the nearest Burundian embassy or consulate.
Travelers who wish to travel to the Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC) with visas and/or entry/exit stamps from Burundi,
Rwanda or Uganda may experience difficulties at DRC airports or
other ports of entry. Some travelers with those visas or exit/entry
stamps have been detained for questioning in DRC.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: As a result of the attack on the
Sabena flight, danger on the road to and from Bujumbura's airport,
current curfews and the ongoing conflict between government and
rebel forces in Burundi, the U.S. Embassy continues to restrict
U.S. Government personnel from flying in or out of Bujumbura during
the hours of darkness. The restrictions have been in place since
In light of continuing ethnic and political tensions, all areas
of Burundi are potentially unstable. Fighting between rebel forces
and the Burundian military continues to be a problem in the interior
and in the outskirts of the capital. The outlying suburbs of Bujumbura
and vehicles on the roadways are regularly attacked by Burundian
rebels. In late 2000, government forces and rebels clashed repeatedly
just outside of the capital. Rebels continue to operate in the
province surrounding the capital and local authorities cannot
guarantee safety. The U.S. Embassy emphasizes the importance of
remaining vigilant and respecting any curfews in effect. (Check
with the U.S. Embassy for the most up-to-date curfew information).
Given the ongoing insecurity, travelers should check with the
U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura before traveling out of the capital.
CRIME: Street crime in Burundi's capital poses a high
risk for visitors. Crime includes muggings, purse-snatching, pickpocketing,
burglary, and auto break-ins. Criminals operate individually or
in small groups. There have been reports of muggings of persons
jogging or walking alone in all sections of Bujumbura, and especially
on public roads bordering Lake Tanganyika. In late 2000, expatriate
employees of several international non-governmental organizations
were the victims of armed robberies in their offices, homes, and
on the road. Moreover, there has been a spate of motorcycle-jackings
by armed assailants.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to the local police and the nearest U.S. Embassy or
Consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's
pamphlets A Safe Trip Abroad
and Tips for Travelers
to Sub-Saharan Africa for ways to promote a more trouble-free
journey. Both are available from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402, via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited in
Burundi. Medicines and prescription drugs are in short supply,
if not completely unavailable. Sterility of equipment is questionable,
and treatment is unreliable.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide payment for medical services outside the United
States. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment
for health services. Uninsured travelers who require medical care
overseas may face extreme difficulties.
Check with your own insurance company to confirm whether your
policy applies overseas, including provision for medical evacuation
and for adequacy of coverage. Serious medical problems requiring
hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States
can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Ascertain whether payment
will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor or whether you
will be reimbursed later for expenses you incur. Some insurance
policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for
disposition of remains in the event of death.
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available
via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202)
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Travelers should consider taking
prophylaxis against malaria. Information on vaccinations and other
health precautions may be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international
traveler's hotline at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747);
fax, 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299); or CDC's Internet site at
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning Burundi is provided for general reference only
and may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor - Nonexistent
LOCAL AVIATION SAFETY: As a result of the attack on a
Sabena passenger flight at night and the danger of attack on the
road to and from the airport at night because of the ongoing conflict
between government and rebel forces in Burundi, the U.S. Embassy
continues to restrict U.S. Government personnel from flying in
or out of Bujumbura during the hours of darkness or during the
Embassy's curfew, which currently is 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. (The curfew
changes from time to time due to changing security conditions.
Contact the U.S. Embassy for the most up-to-date curfew information.)
Due to general safety concerns regarding African Airlines, a
private commercial airline that flies between Bujumbura and destinations
in Africa and the Middle East, the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura recommends
that its personnel not use this carrier.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial
air service at present, or economic authority to operate such
service, between the U.S. and Burundi, the U.S. Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Burundian Civil Aviation
Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards
for oversight of Burundi's air carrier operations. For further
information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation
within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific
carriers, travelers may contact DOD at (618) 229-4801.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and may not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe
than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Burundian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal
drugs in Burundi are strict and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information
on international adoption of children and international parental
child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone (202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: Americans living in or
visiting Burundi are encouraged to register at the Consular section
of the U.S. Embassy in Burundi and obtain updated information
on travel and security within Burundi. The U.S. Embassy is located
on the Avenue des Etats-Unis. The mailing address is B.P. 34,
1720 Bujumbura, Burundi. The telephone number is (257) 223-454,
fax (257) 222-926.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated February 18,
2000, to amend the Travel Warning, to update the sections on Safety
and Security, Crime, Medical Facilities, Medical Insurance, and
Local Aviation Safety and to add the section on Other Health Information.