Burundi country information and facts for travelers.

BURUNDI

Warning: The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to defer all travel to Burundi and recommends that all U.S. citizens in Burundi leave the country because of the uncertain security situation and the suspension of most commercial flights. The U.S. Embassy continues to operate with reduced staff and continues to restrict U.S. Government travel outside the capital due to the unpredictable incidents of violence throughout Burundi. Furthermore, U.S. government personnel may travel only to areas in Bujumbura deemed safe by the U.S. Regional Security Officer. Dependents are prohibited from accompanying U.S. Government employees assigned to Burundi.

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Burundi is a small, inland African nation passing through a period of instability following a coup in July 1996. Facilities for tourism, particularly in the interior, are limited. The capital city is Bujumbura.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport, visa, and evidence of immunization against yellow fever and meningococcal meningitis are required. Only those travelers resident in countries where there is no Burundian Embassy are eligible for entry stamps, without a visa, at the airport upon arrival. These entry stamps are not a substitute for a visa, which must be obtained from the Immigration Service within 24 hours of arrival. Travelers who fail to obtain a visa are not permitted to leave the country. Travelers should obtain the latest information and details from the Embassy of the Republic of Burundi, Suite 212, 2233 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20007; telephone (202) 342-2574 or the Permanent Mission of Burundi to the United Nations in New York, telephone (212) 687-1180. Overseas inquiries may be made at the nearest Burundian embassy or consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: In light of continuing ethnic and political tensions, all areas of the country are potentially unstable. Politically-motivated urban terrorism is a threat in Bujumbura, where land mines have exploded in a number of areas frequented by Americans. Land mines also exist in other parts of the country. Sporadic violence also remains a problem in the interior where large numbers of displaced persons are encamped or in hiding. Local authorities cannot guarantee safety. The U.S. Embassy reiterates the importance of using extreme caution, and respecting any curfews in effect, with no travel to the troubled neighborhoods of the capital. Periodically, in response to the political situation, Burundi's land borders have been closed and telephone service interrupted without notice. In addition, sanctions imposed by neighboring countries have resulted in the suspension of almost all commercial air links with Burundi.

Road Safety: Burundi has a good network of roads between the major towns and border posts. Travel on other roads is difficult, particularly in the rainy season. Public transportation to border points is often difficult and frequently unavailable. Given the fragile security situation, travelers should check with the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura before traveling out of the capital.

Aviation Oversight: Because there is no direct commercial air service at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Burundi, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Burundian Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet home page at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa.htm. 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 Pentagon at (703) 697-7288.

Service of Regional Airlines: Sanctions imposed by neighboring countries have resulted in the suspension of almost all commercial air links with Burundi. Due to general safety concerns regarding African Airlines, a private commercial airline which flies between Bujumbura and destinations in Africa and the Middle East, the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura recommends that its personnel not use this carrier.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are limited in Burundi. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment for health care services. U.S. medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Travelers have found that supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas and medical evacuation coverage has proven to be useful. For additional health information, travelers may contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1-888-232-3228 or the toll-free CDC autofax at 1- 888-232-3299, or on the Internet http://www.cdc.gov/.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Street crime in Burundi poses a high risk for visitors. Crime involves muggings, purse-snatching, pickpocketing, burglary, and auto break-ins. Criminals operate individually or in small groups. There have been reports of muggings of persons jogging or walking alone in all sections of Bujumbura, and especially on public roads bordering Lake Tanganyika.

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 protecting personal security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.

DRUG PENALTIES: U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of the country in which they are traveling. Penalties for possession, use or trafficking in illegal drugs in Burundi are strictly enforced. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Registration/Embassy Location: U.S. citizens are encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Bujumbura on the Avenue des Etats-Unis, and to obtain updated information on travel and security. The mailing address is B.P. 34, 1720 Bujumbura, Burundi. The telephone number is (257) 223-454.

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