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Democratic Republic of the Congo Travel Warning

Issued by U.S. Department of State

Jan 08, 2008

This revised Travel Warning for the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa) provides an update on the countrys security situation.  This Warning supersedes the Travel Warning for the Democratic Republic of the Congo issued April 24, 2007.

The Department of State again warns U.S. citizens against travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  Conditions within certain regions of the DRC remain dangerous; the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa is currently restricting mission personnel to official, pre-authorized travel only in the North Kivu area.

Fighting between armed rebels, Congolese military forces and U.N. peacekeeping troops continues in the provinces of North and South Kivu, Ituri, and northern Katanga, and other areas of eastern Congo.  U.S. citizens are warned particularly against travel in Eastern Congo as fighting there is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.  Armed groups and active duty and demobilized Congolese troops in parts of the country, including Eastern Congo, are known to pillage, carjack, and steal vehicles, kill extra-judicially, rape, kidnap, and carry out military or paramilitary operations.  Large numbers of former rebel and government soldiers to be demobilized, as a result of the earlier peace process, remain a security concern.  Travelers are frequently detained and questioned by poorly disciplined security forces at numerous roadblocks and border crossings throughout the country.

Travelers to the DRC frequently experience difficulties at the airport and other ports of entry, such as temporary detention, passport confiscation and demands by immigration and security personnel for unofficial special fees.  Visas are not available at ports of entry.  All resident 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.  Border closures of 24-48 hours duration can occur without much advance notice.

American citizens should avoid all public demonstrations and areas where crowds are gathered, exercise 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.  In times of emergency, the Belgian Embassy operates a French-language radio broadcast system at FM 98.8.  Changes in security conditions may occasionally restrict the travel of U.S. Mission personnel. 

Public Health concerns also pose a hazard to U.S. citizen travelers for outbreaks of deadly viruses and other diseases which can occur without warning and many times are not rapidly reported by local health authorities.  During the months of August-October, lab confirmed cases of Ebola were found in the Luebo area of Kasai Occidental Province.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Agency for International Development responded with the World Health Organization to assist the Ministry of Health to successfully contain and control this epidemic.  Official notification of the end of the Ebola epidemic (42 days after the last identified case) was announced in mid November 2007.  Information on personal protection for international travelers including children can be found at http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel.

U.S. citizens who travel to or 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 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.

U.S. citizens also should consult the Department of State's most recent Country Specific Information for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, both located on the Department's Internet website at http://travel.state.gov.  Up-to-date information on safety and security is available toll free at 1-888-407-4747 from within North America, or at regular toll rates at 1-202-501-4444 for callers outside the U.S. and Canada, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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