Niger Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Jun 14, 2013
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Niger, and recommends caution due to ongoing electricity and water shortages. On June 13, 2013, the Department of State approved authorized departure for family members of Embassy personnel. This replaces the Travel Warning for Niger dated May 28, 2013, to update information about ongoing electricity and water shortages.
The entire river region including the cities of Niamey, Dosso, and Tillaberry is currently experiencing electricity shortages because of damage to a major power line that provides over half of Niger's electricity, and difficulties with producing and transmitting electricity in Niamey. In addition, as a consequence of the electricity shortage, the Niamey water supplier has been struggling to supply water to the city. Niamey experienced a city-wide power outage on June 11. Most residential neighborhoods are experiencing intermittent water supply. The expected duration of the electricity shortage is unknown. Sources in the Nigerien government have said they expect the situation to be greatly improved by June 15; however, a permanent and durable solution is not expected for weeks or months because of the need for extensive repairs to the main power line.
On June 1, prisoners in Niamey's main prison staged a prison break. Of the 32 prisoners who successfully escaped, several are suspected to have ties to terrorist organizations. The majority of the escapees remain at large.
On May 23, 2013, terrorists using suicide car bombs attacked a Nigerien military compound in Agadez and a uranium mining facility, operated by a French company, in Arlit.
Terrorist groups have called for and executed attacks against countries that have supported intervention against terrorist groups in northern Mali, including Niger. The areas bordering Mali and Libya, and the northern region of Niger continue to be of specific concern. The border is porous, and there are frequent reports of suspected terrorist and armed bandit groups crossing into Niger. The Government of Niger has increased its security forces in the border areas, but the situation remains unstable and travel to the border areas near Mali and Libya is not advised. The U.S. Embassy in Niamey will continue to monitor this situation closely and update U.S. citizens via "Security Messages for U.S. Citizens." These security messages are posted on U.S. Embassy Niamey's website.
Because of security threats, the U.S. Embassy in Niamey continues to restrict the travel of U.S. government employees and official visitors north of the latitude of Niamey. The U.S. Embassy also continues to evaluate proposed travel and official and personal activities for employees on a case-by-case basis, in consultation with Nigerien security authorities. Recently, the possibility of violence related to extremist and criminal groups coming from northern Nigeria has led the Nigerien government to recommend armed escorts for travel in far eastern Niger. The Embassy requires armed escorts for official U.S. citizen travel east of Zinder, because of the state of emergency in northern Nigeria.
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), a group designated as a terrorist organization by the Department of State since 2002, continues its threats to kidnap Westerners in Niger, including U.S. citizens, and has kidnapped Europeans in the region. On January 7, 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped in the capital city of Niamey. They were found dead less than 24 hours later following a rescue attempt by French and Nigerien military forces. In September 2010, seven people, including five French citizens, a Togolese, and a Malagasy were kidnapped by AQIM from the northern mining town of Arlit. Four French citizens are still being held hostage by AQIM. Although there have been no kidnappings of Westerners in Niger since January 2011, the Department of State Worldwide Caution dated July 18, 2012 reminds U.S. citizens to maintain a high level of vigilance and to take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness when traveling in the region.
As a result of safety and security concerns, some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs, and private aid organizations, have temporarily suspended operations in Niger or withdrawn some family members and/or staff.
Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. government policy not to make concessions to kidnappers.
The U.S. Embassy in Niamey strongly encourages U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in Niger despite this Travel Warning to enroll in the Smart Travel Enrollment Program (STEP), so you can receive the most up-to-date security information. Please keep all of your information in STEP current. It is important when enrolling or updating information to include multiple phone numbers and email addresses to facilitate communication in the event of an emergency.
U.S. citizens should consult the Country Specific Information for Niger and the Worldwide Caution, both located on the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook as well. Download our free Smart Traveler app, available through iTunes and Google Play for the latest information. If you don't have internet access, current information on safety and security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers from other countries, 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).
The U.S. Embassy in Niamey is located on Rue des Ambassades. The Embassy's telephone number is (227) 20-72-26-61. You can contact the Embassy after-hours for emergencies at telephone: (227) 20-72-31-41. Click here to visit the Embassy website.