Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 5 March 2022, 17:44 NZDT
  • Still current at: 6 December 2022

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If you are planning international travel at this time, please read our COVID-19 related travel advice here, alongside our destination specific travel advice below.

Do not travel

Do not travel to Mali due to the unpredictable security situation, the threat of terrorism and risk of kidnapping and armed banditry (level 4 of 4).

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Political/Security Situation
Despite the presence of a UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA), the political and security situation in Mali remains volatile and could deteriorate with little warning. There are ongoing clashes with military and terrorist groups and attacks in northern Mali. The environment in southern Mali is more stable, but the possibility remains for continued attacks and unrest. 

In 2018, a state of emergency was extended throughout Mali to allow for additional security measures to be implemented, including an increased security presence and police security checks. New Zealanders who decide to travel to Mali against our advice are advised to review their security arrangements regularly and have a suitable contingency plan in place for departure at short notice. We recommend you ensure your travel documents are up to date and easily accessible at all times. You should also ensure you always have adequate supplies of food, water, fuel, cash and essential medications. 

New Zealanders in Mali are advised to monitor local media for any developments and adhere to any restrictions and instructions issued by the local authorities. We recommend you monitor developments daily through the BBC World Service (88.9 FM in Bamako).

There is a very high threat of terrorism throughout Mali and attacks could occur anywhere, at any time. Terrorist groups are particularly active in northern Mali and border areas, however, there have also been a number of attacks in southern and central Mali in recent years.

Most attacks target security forces, however some have targeted foreigners. In April 2018, there was an attack on the MINUSMA camp in Timbuktu. On 18 June 2017, terrorists attacked Kangaba hotel, resulting in multiple casualties. On 20 November 2015, an attack and siege on the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako resulted in the deaths of at least 19 hostages, including foreign nationals. Further attacks are likely and may directly target places known to be frequented by expatriates and Westerners. Be particularly vigilant around hotels, restaurants, places of worship and embassies.

New Zealanders throughout Mali are advised to keep themselves informed of potential risks to safety and security. You should maintain a high degree of personal security awareness at all times, keep a low profile and stay alert to local political developments. If you are in the area of a terrorist attack, leave the affected area immediately if it is safe to do so.

There is a significant risk of kidnapping in Mali by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other terrorist groups. A number of Western nationals have been kidnapped and killed in Mali in recent years, including tourists, journalists and NGO workers.  The risk is heightened in northern regions of Mali and border areas, however AQIM has shown the capability of travelling long distances to carry out a kidnapping.

New Zealanders in Mali are strongly advised to seek professional security advice and ensure appropriate personal security protection measures are in place.

Violent Crime
There are incidents of armed banditry, carjacking and other violent crime throughout Mali. Bandits are particularly active in the north, remote areas and border regions. Petty crime also occurs often.

New Zealanders in Mali are advised to be security conscious at all times and should avoid walking and travelling at night, particularly to isolated areas. As victims of robbery are often targeted due to their perceived wealth, it is advisable to avoid wearing or displaying items that appear valuable, such as electronic devices, cameras and jewellery. Take steps to safeguard and secure your personal belongings. When driving you should keep doors locked, windows up and keep any valuables out of sight. No resistance should be given if you are the victim of a robbery, mugging or carjacking as this could lead to an escalation in violence.

Civil Unrest
Demonstrations occur in Bamako and elsewhere in Mali and have the potential to turn violent with little warning. We recommend avoiding any crowds, demonstrations and public gatherings and leaving the area as quickly and as safely as possible if any unrest occurs. Make sure you have contingency plans and up to date travel documentation.

General Travel Advice
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Mali, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens who require consular assistance is extremely limited. We offer advice to New Zealanders about contingency planning that travellers to Mali should consider.

New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Mali to avoid offending local sensitivities. Modesty and discretion should be exercised in both dress and behaviour.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Mali 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 Mali – exclusions may well apply. 

Authorities may ask for proof of your identity, so carry a colour photocopy of your passport and visa for Mali at all times.

The possession, sale and export of antiquities without authorisation may carry heavy penalties.

Photography of government offices, airports, military establishments or officials is prohibited, and could result in detention. If in doubt, don’t take a picture.

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

Please note: while every care has been taken in preparing these travel advisories, neither the New Zealand Government nor its agents and employees can accept liability for any loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained therein.

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See our regional advice for Africa

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