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Congo Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Mar 31, 2005

This Travel Warning for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) is being issued to update security information and registration requirements, and to note the Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to the country. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued August 19,2004.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against travel to Democratic Republic of the Congo. Despite efforts to advance the peace process following the 2003 formation of a transitional government, there has been periodic fighting in North and South Kivu and other areas of eastern Congo. Wide-scale civil unrest occurred in May and June 2004; rioting and looting took place in many cities, including the capital Kinshasa, resulting in United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeper and civilian casualties. Likewise, demonstrations in several areas of Kinshasa in January 2005 resulted in civilian and police casualties. The challenges of implementing national elections scheduled for 2005 raise the possibility of further civil disturbances over the next several months.

Though a U.N. observer force is deployed to a number of locations throughout the country, unofficial armed groups and active duty troops operating in some parts of the country are responsible for pillaging, vehicle thefts, carjackings, extra-judicial killings, rapes, kidnappings, ethnic tensions, and continued military/paramilitary operations. The large number of rebel and government soldiers to be decommissioned as a result of the peace process poses another source of potential security concerns. Travelers may be subject to detention and questioning by ill-disciplined security forces. There are numerous military roadblocks throughout the country. While government-imposed curfews are no longer in effect, they could be reinstated upon short notice if the security situation deteriorates. Travelers to the Democratic Republic of the Congo have routinely experienced difficulties at the airport and other ports of entry, being temporarily detained by immigration and security personnel demanding payment of unofficial "special fees." Entry visas at the port of entry are not available. All foreigners, including Americans, are required to register at the office of the Direction General de Migration (DGM) in the commune of their place of residence. Foreigners may be required to produce their "jeton" (registration ticket) at security checkpoints and when departing the country.

Travel in the eastern provinces, especially in rural areas, remains unsafe due to continued sporadic attacks by uncontrolled militias. Land borders with Rwanda may temporarily close with little or no notice.

Americans should avoid demonstrations and areas where crowds are gathered, exercise extreme caution, and continuously review their personal security posture. Changing security conditions result in periodically restricted travel by U.S. Mission personnel.

U.S. citizens who travel to or reside in Congo-Kinshasa despite this Travel Warning are strongly advised to register through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, tel. 243-81-225-5872. Entrance to the Consular Section of the Embassy is on Avenue Dumi, opposite Ste. Anne residence. The Consular Section of the Embassy may be reached at tel. 243-81-884-6859, 243-81-884-4609; fax 243-81-301-0560. Cellular phones are the norm, as other telephone service is often unreliable. Website: http://kinshasa.usembassy.gov/

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's most recent Consular Information Sheet for Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, which are located on the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S., or for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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