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Congo Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Mar 23, 2007

This Travel Warning alerts American citizens to the current security situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As a result of small arms fire and mortar explosions that began on March 22 in Kinshasa, the capital, the Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency personnel and dependents. The Department continues to warn American citizens against travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo at this time. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for the Democratic Republic of the Congo issued December 18, 2006.

Armed groups were actively engaged in fighting in the Gombe area of Kinshasa on March 22, with small arms fire and mortar explosions. The fighting is sporadic and ongoing, and has shifted to other areas in the capital region. There are reports of casualties and injuries. As a result, the Department of State has authorized the departure of non-emergency employees of the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa and dependents.

American citizens should not travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo at this time. The U.S. Embassy remains open for emergency services. Scheduled airline operations may be periodically interrupted without advance notice. Those American citizens wishing to depart are encouraged to monitor the security situation and the availability of flights, and to advise the U.S. Embassy if they intend to depart the country.

Travel in the eastern provinces, especially in rural areas, remains unsafe due to continued sporadic attacks by uncontrolled militias. Periodic fighting continues in the provinces of North and South Kivu, Ituri, and northern Katanga, and other areas of eastern Congo.

Though U.N. observer forces are deployed throughout the country, unofficial armed groups and active duty troops in parts of the country are known to pillage, carjack, steal vehicles, kill extra-judicially, rape, kidnap, and carry out military/paramilitary operations. The large number of rebel and government soldiers to be decommissioned as a result of the peace process is also a security concern. Travelers have been detained and questioned by poorly disciplined security forces at numerous military roadblocks throughout the country. Government-imposed curfews, not currently in effect, could be reinstated upon short notice if the security situation deteriorates.

Americans should avoid demonstrations and areas where crowds are gathered, exercise extreme caution, and closely watch and listen for local and international news from reliable sources. Radio Okapi broadcasts in French on 103.5 FM at 0700, 0800, 1200, and 1800 as well as flash updates throughout the day. English-language news can be found on BBC at 92.7 FM.

U.S. citizens who remain in the DRC despite this Travel Warning are strongly urged to register with the Embassy in Kinshasa or through the State Departments travel registration website at https://travelregistration.state.gov. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency. The U.S. Embassy is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs; entrance to the Consular Section is on Avenue Dumi, opposite Ste. Anne residence. The Embassys 24-hour number is 243-81-225-5872; callers within the DRC should dial 081 225-5872. All Embassy telephone numbers are cellular phones as landlines are unreliable. The Embassy website is http://kinshasa.usembassy.gov.

American citizens should monitor the Department's Internet web site at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Consular Information Sheet for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the current Travel Warning, and other travel information can be found. Up to date information on security can also be obtained by emailing AEKinshasaConsular@state.gov or calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or, for callers outside the United States 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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