Uganda - Consular Information Sheet
March 16, 2001
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Uganda is a developing east African
nation. Infrastructure is adequate in Kampala, the capital, but
it is limited in other areas.
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required.
U.S. citizens can obtain a visa either at the
Embassy of the Republic of Uganda in Washington, D.C. or at
Entebbe Airport, near Kampala. Further information may be obtained
Embassy of the Republic of Uganda, 5909 16th Street, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20011; telephone (202) 726-7100; web site: http://www.Ugandaweb.com/ugaembassy;
e-mail: email@example.com. Information may also be obtained at
the Ugandan Permanent Mission to the United Nations, telephone
(212) 949-0110. Overseas inquiries may be made at the nearest
Ugandan embassy or consulate.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: U.S. citizens living in or planning
to visit Uganda should be aware of threats to their safety from
insurgent groups, originating both within and outside of Uganda,
particularly in northern and western Uganda. They have at times
specifically targeted U.S. citizens. These groups have engaged
in murder, armed attacks, kidnapping and the placement of land
mines. Incidents occur at random with little or no warning. Ongoing
hostilities between the government of the Democratic Republic
of Congo (DRC) and rebels in that country could prompt military
attacks in Uganda, which has troops in the DRC. Numerous incidents
of banditry and armed robbery have occurred in the northern and
western districts of Uganda.
Tourists who remain in the gorilla parks overnight do so at their
own risk. Security has improved in all national parks since the
1999 attack in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest that claimed the lives
of American and other tourists. Proximity of Bwindi and Mgahinga
gorilla national parks to the border and the continuing instability
in Congo make these parks potentially vulnerable to Congolese
rebel groups. The decision to sleep inside the gorilla parks should,
however, be weighed against security concerns associated with
pre-dawn driving if one chooses to use accommodations far away
from Bwindi or Mgahinga. In addition to the general risks of higher
accident rates, pre-dawn and nighttime driving also increase the
risk of banditry. The Ugandan army, which is charged with the
safety and welfare of travelers and accompanies tourists on gorilla
tracking, has greatly increased its presence in the parks. The
Ugandan government periodically closes tourist areas that it considers
to be risks. The Rwenzori mountain range, for example, has been
closed to tourists since 1997 and remains closed.
U.S. Government employees must have permission from the Chief
of Mission to visit the following districts: Kotido, Moroto, Apac,
Lira, Northern Gulu, Kitgum, Kisoro, Rukungiri, Kasese, Moyo,
Arua, Nebbi, Adjumani, Bundibugiyo, and Kabarole. Although rebel
activity slowed in Bundibugyo and Kasese districts since spring/summer
2000, presumably as a result of the Ugandan army counterinsurgency
efforts, it increased in Hoima, Kibale and Bushenyi districts
and the Semliki Forest. Travelers are reminded that although rebel
activity from the DRC is often unpredictable, safety is usually
enhanced by increased distance from that border. The above-named
districts include districts containing all or part of several
national parks. Tourists contemplating travel in any of these
districts are advised to contact the U.S. Embassy in Kampala for
the latest security information.
There have been a series of bomb attacks at various public places
in Kampala since July 1998. In March 2001, there were three bombings
in Kampala. A bomb and a grenade attack occurred near a downtown
Kampala market, and a third bomb exploded in a passenger minivan
about 25 miles (40km) outside Kampala. Three Ugandans were killed
and at least 18 injured. As a general rule, U.S. citizens in Kampala
are still urged to exercise caution and to be alert when visiting
both indoor and outdoor public facilities, including, but not
limited to, bars, restaurants, hotels, and markets, as well as
using local and inter-city public van service ("matatus")
and larger buses.
The Peace Corps, which suspended operations in May, 1999, is
scheduled to resume operations in 2001.
REGIONAL TERRORISM: One of the many rebel factions in
the Great Lakes Region has committed, and continues to threaten,
violence against U.S. citizens and interests. This faction was
responsible for the March 1999 kidnapping and murder of several
Western tourists in Uganda. A rebel faction was responsible for
the kidnapping of four foreign nationals in August 1998 in a region
of the Democratic Republic of Congo that borders Uganda. Rebel
factions are known to operate in northeastern Democratic Republic
of Congo and the surrounding areas, including sections of Uganda,
Rwanda, Tanzania, and Burundi.
CRIME: Incidents of armed vehicle hijackings and armed
highway robbery are frequent throughout the country. Although
these attacks are often violent, victims are generally injured
only if they resist. In September 1999, one American was murdered
during a highway robbery. U.S. Embassy employees are generally
advised against using roads at night in non-urban areas. In the
past, there was a series of incidents on secondary roads in which
vehicles were fired upon without warning or provocation. On the
road from Entebbe Airport to Kampala, there has been an increase
in carjackings, particularly against single vehicles traveling
Females traveling alone are particularly susceptible to crime.
An American woman was murdered in 1998 in a four-star Kampala
hotel. Several violent attacks occurred in Kampala and other parts
of the country in 1998.
Crimes such as pickpocketing, purse snatching and thefts from
parked vehicles or vehicles stalled in traffic jams are common.
These offenses also occur on public transportation. Passengers
should not accept food or drink from a stranger, even a child,
because such food may contain narcotics used to incapacitate a
victim and facilitate a robbery.
The loss or theft abroad of a U.S. passport should be reported
immediately to local police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or
consulate. The pamphlets, A
Safe Trip Abroad and Tips
for Travelers to Sub-Saharan Africa, provide useful information
on personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the
region in general. Both are available at the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page, http://travel.state.gov,
and from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402 or via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities in Uganda, including
Kampala, are extremely limited and not equipped to handle most
emergencies, especially those requiring surgery. Outside Kampala,
hospitals are scarce and offer only basic services. Equipment
and medicines are often in short supply or unavailable.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: U.S. medical insurance is not always
valid outside the United States. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs
do not provide for payment of 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.
Please check with your own insurance company to confirm whether
your policy applies overseas, including a 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. Please ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor,
or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that 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, Bureau
of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov/
and autofax at (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 international traveler's
hotline at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or by visiting the
CDC's Internet home page 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 Uganda 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
Most inter-city transportation in Uganda is by small van or large
bus. Many drivers of these vehicles have little or no training,
and are often reckless. These vehicles are usually poorly maintained,
travel at high speeds and are the principal ones involved in the
many single and multi-vehicle accidents along Ugandan roads. Large
trucks on the highways are often precariously over-loaded, with
cargo inadequately secured. Alcohol frequently is a contributing
factor in road accidents, particularly at night. In 2000, one
American was killed and one seriously injured in a two-car accident
at night on a highway.
In Uganda, one drives on the left, and most vehicles are right-hand
drive. Motorcycles are common and weave in and out of traffic
to avoid traffic jams. There are no posted speed limits in Uganda,
and virtually no enforcement of traffic infractions outside Kampala.
Impatient drivers frequently overtake multiple vehicles at the
most inopportune times -- while uphill, in the dark, and around
blind corners. Ugandan pedestrians often walk in the roads and
may not be visible to motorists. There are no reliable traffic
accident/fatality statistics published. Large potholes are ubiquitous,
and adequate signage or shoulders are almost non-existent. Road
grading is inadequate, and blind corners can be very dangerous.
One local driving custom that often confuses Americans relates
to the use of turn signals. It is common for a vehicle in front
to use the right turn signal to warn against passing, and a left
signal to indicate that it is safe to pass (although a left signal
may also simply mean that the driver is turning left). Large branches
or rocks in the road sometimes indicate an upcoming obstruction
or other hazard. Banditry in some areas is both frequent and unpredictable.
Highway travel at night is particularly dangerous.
Traffic accidents draw crowds. Ugandan law requires that the
driver stop and exchange information and assist. In some cases,
where serious injury has occurred, there is the possibility of
mob anger. In these instances, Ugandans often do not get out of
their car, but drive to the nearest police station to report the
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific
information concerning Ugandan driving permits, vehicle inspection,
road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Uganda Tourist
Board, IPS building, 14, Parliament Avenue, Kampala, Uganda; telephone
256-41-242-196/7. You may also wish to consult the
web site: http://ugandaweb.com/.
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 United States and Uganda,
the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed
Uganda's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international
aviation safety standards.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department
of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873,
or visit the
FAA's 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
the DOD at telephone (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
Ugandan laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or
imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal
drugs in Uganda are strict, and convicted offenders can expect
jail sentences and heavy fines. Once imprisoned in Uganda, there
are frequent long delays in judicial processing. The food, sanitation,
and medical care in the overcrowded Ugandan prisons are poor.
PHOTOGRAPHY PROHIBITION: Photography in tourist locations
is welcome. However, it is inadvisable to take pictures of military/police
installations or personnel. Military and police officers have
also detained tourists for taking photographs of part of Entebbe
Airport and of the area around Owen Falls Dam.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For
information on international adoption of children and international
parental child abduction, please refer to our web site at
http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html or telephone (202)
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens are encouraged
to register with the
U.S. Embassy in Kampala and to obtain updated information
on travel and security in Uganda. The chancery is located at Gaba
Road, Kansanga, Kampala; telephone 256-41-234-142; fax 256-41-258-451;