- Reviewed: 19 March 2020, 14:21 NZDT
- Still current at: 19 January 2021
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Political Tension/Civil Unrest
The political and security situation in Burundi is volatile and unpredictable and could deteriorate with little warning.
There has been ongoing, sporadic violence and unrest since April 2015, in response to political developments. Violent incidents, armed clashes, protests and demonstrations occur frequently in the capital Bujumbura and other centres and have resulted in a significant number of deaths. Tensions remain very high and further violence is likely.
New Zealanders who choose to remain in Burundi despite our advice are advised to avoid all unnecessary travel and maintain a high degree of personal security awareness. You should monitor developments closely through the media and other local information sources. Avoid all protests, political events, rallies and large public gatherings as they have the potential to turn violent with little warning.
There is an ongoing threat of terrorism in Burundi. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab has made public threats to conduct attacks in Burundi, specifically in Bujumbura.
New Zealanders in Burundi are advised to be vigilant in public places, avoid crowded areas and follow any instructions issued by the local authorities. We advise having robust personal security measures in place including letting family and friends know about your travel plans.
Violent crime, including armed robbery, grenade attacks mugging and carjacking is common throughout Burundi and the risk increases significantly after dark.
Travel outside Bujumbura and other major towns presents significant risks, especially after dark. Armed bandits are known to operate outside of Bujumbura, and travellers should be especially careful in remote areas such as national parks. There is also a risk of kidnapping in Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces, and foreigners have been attacked in the past.
New Zealanders in Burundi should seek local advice if travelling outside Bujumbura. Call the UN office in Burundi on +257 22 21 9342 for the latest security advice. No resistance should be given if you are the victim of an armed robbery, mugging or carjacking as this could lead to an escalation in violence. For security reasons you should not travel alone or at night. We strongly advise against using public transport.
Armed groups operate in Burundi and sporadic conflict and low-level violence between rebel and government forces occurs, particularly in Bubanza and Cibitoke provinces.
There is a significant risk of kidnapping and armed banditry by rebel groups in areas close to the borders with the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda. We strongly advise against all travel to these border areas.
General travel advice
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Burundi, the ability of the New Zealand Government to provide assistance to New Zealand citizens is severely limited.
We offer advice to New Zealanders about contingency planning that travellers to Burundi should consider.
Keep your passport in a safe place and only carry a photocopy for identification purposes.
There are frequent checkpoints where police check identity papers. There have been reports of harassment, intimidation and violence at checkpoints. Comply with requests, stay inside your vehicle and display colour copies of your documents through the window.
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include lengthy imprisonment or fines.
Photography of government offices, airports, military establishments or officials is prohibited, could result in detention. If in doubt, don’t take a picture.
Medical services in Burundi are very limited, and New Zealanders travelling or living in Burundi should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. You should check your policy covers travel to Burundi, as exclusions are likely to apply.
New Zealanders who remain in Burundi against our advice are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
See our regional advice for Africa