Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 20 March 2017, 16:24 NZDT
  • Still current at: 25 June 2017

Extreme Risk

There is extreme risk to your security in areas north of the town of Boulsa.  We advise against all travel to these areas due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and armed banditry. 

There is extreme risk to your security within 40 kilometres of the border with Mali and to W National Park due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and armed banditry.

High Risk

There is high risk to your security elsewhere in Burkina Faso. We advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel due to the threat of terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry and the potential for civil unrest.

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Terrorism
There is a high threat of terrorism in Burkina Faso, particularly in border areas with Mali and Niger. On 15 January 2016, armed gunmen attacked the Splendid Hotel and Café Cappuccino in Ouagadougou resulted in 30 deaths, a large number of whom were foreign nationals. Further attacks, including those targeting Westerners, cannot be ruled out.

New Zealanders throughout Burkina Faso are advised to maintain a high degree of security awareness at all times, particularly in public areas. Keep yourself informed of potential risks to safety and security by monitoring the media and other local sources of information and follow the instructions of local authorities at all times.

Kidnapping
There is a heightened threat of kidnapping in northern parts of Burkina Faso and near the borders with Mali and Niger. Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have stated their intention to kidnap foreigners and may cross the borders from Mali and Niger to carry out kidnappings.

A number of Westerners have previously been kidnapped in remote parts of West Africa. In mid-January 2016, two Australian expatriates were kidnapped from the town of Djibo, in northern Burkina Faso and in 2015, a Western national was kidnapped by an armed group in the Tambau region.  

New Zealanders in Burkina Faso are strongly advised to seek professional security advice or protection before travelling to areas of particular risk.

Political situation/Civil unrest
The political situation in Burkina Faso has stabalised since presidential elections in late 2015, however, the security situation could deteriorate with little warning. Demonstrations occur regularly and have the potential to result in violence or clashes.

New Zealanders in Burkina Faso are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations and large gatherings. 

Banditry
Banditry is a security concern in Burkina Faso. There continue to be reports of attacks by armed criminals on vehicles, including buses, travelling on a variety of main and secondary roads across the country. Criminals have used road blocks to stop and rob travellers and have been known to open fire on vehicles that refuse to stop.

The highest number of incidents occur in the eastern region but there have been a number of attacks in other regions and the threat exists throughout Burkina Faso. Remote and border regions are especially vulnerable. Travel by night outside Ouagadougou is dangerous.

New Zealanders in Burkina Faso are advised to travel in convoy if possible, stay on clearly marked roads and avoid travel by night outside major centres. You should seek local advice before setting out and follow a police patrol where possible.

Crime
Street crime is prevalent in Burkina Faso and foreigners may be specifically targeted due to their perceived wealth. Bag-snatchings, muggings and theft from hotel rooms are common in Ouagadougou. The central market and the area around the United Nations circle are often targeted by thieves. 

New Zealanders are advised to exercise particular vigilance in crowded or public areas, avoid showing signs of affluence and keep personal belongings secure at all times. Avoid walking alone at night, as the risk increases after dark.

General Travel Advice
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Burkina Faso, the ability of the government to provide consular assistance to New Zealand citizens is extremely limited.

New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Burkina Faso to avoid offending local sensitivities.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Burkina Faso should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.

New Zealanders in Burkina Faso are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

See our regional advice for Africa

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