- Reviewed: 19 March 2020, 14:49 NZDT
- Still current at: 7 June 2020
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There have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Local authorities in countries and territories with confirmed cases of COVID-19 may impose containment measures including travel restrictions and quarantine requirements to prevent the spread of the virus.
Such measures may be imposed at short notice and specific details may change rapidly, including where and to whom they apply to and for how long. All travellers should stay informed of measures being taken by authorities in the areas they are travelling to. We recommend that all travellers consult the official website or the nearest embassy or consulate of your country or territory of destination to find out about any border controls and other measures that may apply to you.
For information on countries and territories which have COVID-19 related border restrictions affecting foreign nationals, including travellers in transit, please check the International Air Transport Association (IATA) website before you travel. IATA provides a comprehensive list of all countries and territories that have imposed COVID-19 related border restrictions and is being continually updated.
As part of its response to managing the COVID-19 outbreak, the New Zealand Government has some temporary travel restrictions in place in New Zealand. Please refer to the New Zealand Ministry of Health website for up to date information.
Political Situation/Civil Unrest
The political and security situation in the DRC remains unpredictable. Large-scale demonstrations can be expected in the lead up to elections.
Demonstrations have the potential to turn violent with little warning and have resulted in a large number of fatalities in the past, including in Kinshasa and other large cities. Unrest can result in the deployment of security forces, restrictions on movement, border closures and the suspension of commercial flights.
New Zealanders who choose to remain in the DRC are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate precautions to ensure their safety. You should avoid all public gatherings, protests and demonstrations. If you find yourself in an area affected by violence, we recommend you immediately leave the area if it is safe to do so, or stay indoors and adhere to local advice. You should have a personal contingency plan in place for departure and monitor developments closely through the media and other local information sources. As a precautionary measure, we recommend ensuring adequate supplies of food, water, fuel, cash and essential medications are always on hand and travel documents are kept up to date.
Eastern, North-eastern and Kasai provinces
The security situation in these areas is volatile and unstable, with ongoing violent clashes. Armed rebel groups operate in these regions and are known to engage in activities like kidnapping, looting, politically-motivated killings and sexual violence, including on civilian populations. Ongoing military operations target these groups and there is a large peacekeeping presence in eastern DRC. Foreigners have been kidnapped and killed in these provinces.
Since early 2017 there have been armed clashes between armed rebel groups and security forces in the Kasai provinces resulting in hundreds of deaths, including foreigners.
Violent crime including armed robbery and carjacking is a significant issue in the DRC. The risk increases greatly after dark. Street crime, including pickpocketing and petty theft, is common, especially in the capital Kinshasa. Foreigners are often targeted due to their perceived wealth.
We recommend New Zealanders exercise a high degree of security awareness at all times and avoid displaying or wearing items that appear valuable, such as jewellery and mobile devices.
Avoid all public transport and do not hail taxis in the DRC, as these have been the target of robberies. It is suggested that you use privately booked transportation from a reliable source.
Roadblocks are frequently set up by security forces. At checkpoints, remain in your vehicle and produce requested documents through a raised window. We recommend carrying colour photocopies of your passport and identity documents and producing these when requested.
Foreigners have at times been arbitrarily detained by security forces demanding payment for release. Criminals may also pose as police or security forces to rob travellers. You should avoid entering into vehicles with strangers, including those purporting to be police officers.
When travelling by car, it is advisable to keep doors locked and windows up at all times and to stay on the main routes. It is not safe to walk alone at any time in the DRC.
We advise against travel by land through the borders with Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The borders with Angola, Rwanda and Burundi may be subject to closure with little notice.
General travel advice
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in the DRC, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens is severely limited.
We offer advice to New Zealanders about contingency planning that travellers to the DRC should consider.
New Zealanders travelling or living in the DRC should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. You should check your travel insurance covers travel to the DRC – exclusions may well apply.
New Zealanders in the DRC are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
See our regional advice for Africa