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Travel Warning & Consular Information Sheet for Republic of Congo

Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) - Consular Information Sheet
June 26, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The Republic of Congo is a developing nation in central Africa. Civil conflict in 1997, late 1998 and early 1999 damaged parts of the capital and large areas in the southwest area of the country. Peace accords, which concluded in late 1999, have largely brought an end to the conflict, and no new hostilities have occurred. Restoration is now underway in Brazzaville and other cities; however, facilities for tourists remain limited.

The U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville suspended operations on June 18, 1997, and there remains no resident U.S. diplomatic presence in the Republic of Congo to provide consular assistance to U.S. citizens. A Brazzaville U.S. Embassy Office was opened in neighboring Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo in April 1998 and may, in some circumstances, be able to provide limited emergency services to U.S. citizens. The Brazzaville U.S. Embassy Office is located at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, telephone 243-88-43608. The U.S. Embassy operates with a reduced staff. Only emergency consular services to U.S. citizens are available and the Embassy's ability to provide these services is limited solely to the Brazzaville/Kinshasa capitals.

ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and a visa are required. Information on entry requirements may be obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Congo, 4891 Colorado Ave., N.W., Washington D.C. 20011, telephone (202) 726-0825, or from the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Congo to the United Nations, 14 E. 65th St., New York, NY, 10021, telephone (212) 744-7840. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.

SAFETY AND SECURITY: Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, the second-largest city, are typical small central African cities. As result of 1997-1999 civil wars, there is evidence of extensive damage to the infrastructure in Brazzaville and in the southern part of the country. Disorganized bands of armed former militiamen remain in some areas in the southwest of the country but there have been no hostilities since peace accords were signed at the end of 1999. The war in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo has led to insecurity in border areas in northern Republic of Congo along the Ubangui river. Travel to these regions is not recommended. Night travel outside of Brazzaville and Pointe Noire should be avoided.

U.S. citizens should avoid political rallies and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.

CRIME: In the Republic of Congo, petty street crime targeting foreigners is relatively rare, but nighttime muggings sometimes occur, especially in Pointe Noire.

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 pamphlet, A Safe Trip Abroad, for ways to promote a trouble-free journey. The pamphlet is available by mail 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 were limited before the civil wars and have worsened as a consequence of the fighting. Some medicine is in short supply, particularly outside the larger cities. Travelers should carry their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines.

MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the U.S. may cost well in excess of 50,000 dollars (US). Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider 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) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at
1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.

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 the Republic of Congo 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: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor to Non-existent

Road conditions are generally poor and deteriorate significantly during the rainy season, November-June. Maintenance of the few paved roads is limited. Overland travel off the main roads generally requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. Poorly marked armed checkpoints, sometimes manned by undisciplined soldiers, exist throughout the country. Train travel between Brazzaville and Pointe Noire resumed in August 2000, but there are frequent reports of extortion by undisciplined security forces and robberies by criminal elements along the route.

For additional general information about road safety, including links to foreign government sites, see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and the Republic of Congo, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Republic of Congo's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. 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.

CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Airport police and customs officials routinely inspect incoming and outgoing luggage. For a complete list of prohibited items, contact the nearest Congolese embassy or consulate.

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 Congolese law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the Republic of Congo are strict and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.

CONSULAR ACCESS: Local security forces, particularly in areas outside Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, may detain foreigners and/or attempt extortion. Detention of U.S. citizens, particularly in remote areas, may not always be reported promptly by Congolese authorities to the U.S. Government. U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a copy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so that, if questioned by local officials, proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available. If detained or arrested, U.S. citizens should always ask to be allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy (See Registration/Embassy and Location below.)

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children or 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: The U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville suspended operations at the time of the outbreak of the 1997 civil war and has not re-opened. A U.S. Ambassador is accredited to the Government of the Republic of the Congo and together with a small staff which operates from the Brazzaville U.S. Embassy Office, located in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. This office may, in some circumstances, be able to provide emergency U.S. citizen services. U.S. citizens living in or visiting the Republic of the Congo are encouraged to register with the Brazzaville U.S. Embassy Office or the Consular Section, both located at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs. The telephone number is 243-88-43608, and the mailing address from the U.S. is Brazzaville Embassy Office, American Embassy Kinshasa, Unit 31550, APO AE, 09828.

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