RWANDA

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Rwanda is a central/east African country recovering from years of ethnic and political strife that culminated in a three-month genocide ending July 1994. Over one million Rwandans who fled at that time returned from neighboring countries between October and December 1996. Reconciliation and the provision of basic needs will continue to preoccupy the government, as Hutus and Tutsis try to find ways to live together again. Infrastructure damaged in the war is slowly being repaired but services such as telephone, electricity and water still are not reliable, particularly outside the capital city of Kigali. Tourist facilities in Rwanda are very limited. International air services generally operate on schedule.

Passport and/or Visa Requirements: A passport, a visa and evidence of yellow fever immunization are required. Airport visas are not available and visitors attempting to enter without a visa often are deported. For more information travelers should contact the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda, 1714 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20009, telephone (202) 232-2882, fax (202) 232-4544 or check their website: http://www.rwandaemb.org/rwanda/. Overseas inquiries may be made at the nearest Rwandan Embassy or Consulate.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: While there has been no open warfare since 1994, Rwanda continues to experience insurgent attacks by former soldiers and extremists. Attacks have been especially severe and frequent in the northwest quadrant of Rwanda, including Gisenyi, northern Gitarama, Kibuye and Ruhengeri prefectures. This includes the area where the mountain gorillas are located. Cyabgugu in the southwest has also experienced some instability. Road ambushes are common, especially early in the morning or after dusk. Violence has been directed against foreign visitors and workers several times since January 1997. Curfews are sporadically enforced in some areas and may not be apparent to visitors. Visitors are strongly advised to consult with local authorities before traveling outside Kigali.

Road Safety: Excessive speed, unpredictable local driving habits, poorly maintained roads and the lack of basic safety equipment on many vehicles are daily hazards on Rwandan roads. Public transportation is limited and generally unsafe. Travelers are subjected to frequent stops at roadblocks throughout the country, during which their vehicles and luggage may be searched. Despite demining efforts, land mines are prevalent in many areas of the country, particularly in Byumba, Cyangugu, Kigali and Kigali-Rurale prefectures; unpaved roads and uncultivated fields are particularly hazardous.

Aviation Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service at present, or economic authority to operate such service, between the U.S. and Rwanda, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the Rwandan 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.

Medical Facilities: Medical facilities are extremely limited, and trained medical personnel are in short supply. Doctors and hospitals expect cash payment for services and do not accept U.S. medical insurance. The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide for payment of medical services outside the United States. Supplemental medical insurance with specific overseas coverage and medical evacuation provision is recommended. Travelers generally bring their own supplies of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. 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. Internet: http://www.cdc.gov.

Travel Warnings, Advisories and Areas of Instability: Pickpocketing in crowded public places is common as is petty theft from cars and hotel rooms. Carjacking in Kigali is becoming a noticeable problem. The loss or theft 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 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.

Registration/Embassy Location: U.S. citizens who plan to travel to Rwanda are urged to register at the U.S. Embassy in Kigali. The U.S. Embassy is located at Boulevard de la Revolution; the mailing address is B.P. 28, Kigali, Rwanda. The telephone is 250- 75601/75602, and the fax is 250-72128.

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