The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.
Provinces of Bubanza and Cibitoke (see Advisory)
Border security is still a concern in these provinces, given the various violent clashes in eastern DRC and occasional cross-border movement by armed groups. Banditry, small arms trafficking, kidnappings and attacks on civilians by former soldiers, rebels and youth gangs have been reported.
There is a risk of low-level political violence in Kanyosha, Kinindo, Musaga, Kinama, Kamenge and the area near the Kibira forest. Grenade attacks and exchange of gun fire have occurred. High crime rates are also a concern.
Legislative and presidential elections are scheduled to take place on May 26 and June 26, 2015, respectively. Demonstrations have been taking place in Bujumbura and the surrounding areas and have led to violence, including deaths and injuries.
Demonstrations can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Regional terror groups, including those associated with al Qaeda and al-Shabaab, continue to threaten Western interests and other potential targets in Burundi. The September 21, 2013 attack on an upscale Nairobi mall illustrates the threat of attacks on civilians in East Africa. Further attacks cannot be ruled out. Be vigilant in crowded places and monitor local media.
Crime rates are high, and significantly increase after dark. Incidents of muggings at gun or knife point, armed car hijackings, robbery, purse snatching and pickpocketing occur. Crime is often committed by children. Assaults occur against people walking or jogging alone, particularly on roads around Lake Tanganyika. Avoid walking, driving or taking public transportation after dark, anywhere in the country. There are large amounts of small arms and weapons in circulation, easily available to various groups. Keep valuables, travel documents, and cash in hotel safes. Keep separate copies of important documents, including your passport.
Road conditions have greatly improved throughout the country over the last decade, yet there is still a need for strict adherence to security rules and procedures. Information on road security must be checked on a daily basis.
You can seek advice from the UN office in Burundi (tel: + 257 22205598).
There are few traffic signals and signs. Roads are not marked and street lights are almost non-existent, which makes driving at night especially dangerous. You should carry multiple spare tires. During the rainy season, many roads are only accessible with four-wheel-drive vehicles. Driving habits are often more erratic and reckless than in Canada.
Service stations are rare and roadside assistance is not available outside the capital. In the event of an accident, leave the scene without stopping and go to the nearest police station or, if necessary, to the hospital. It is recommended that road travel be undertaken in a convoy of at least two vehicles.
Traveling outside of Bujumbura through land should be avoided. You may encounter legitimate roadblocks. However, be aware that criminals are known to impersonate security forces and setup fake roadblocks to solicit bribes. Periodic closure of the border between Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo can occur without notice and can create problem in case of emergency situation.
The use of public transportation, particularly taxis, is discouraged, as drivers often operate within a criminal network. If the use of a taxi is unavoidable, a recommended taxi should be identified. Public buses should not be used, as vehicle and road conditions are the cause of frequent serious accidents.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General security information
Exercise extreme caution, monitor local media reports and maintain close contact with the Consulate of your country in Bujumbura or the High Commission of Canada in Nairobi, Kenya.
There are very limited facilities for tourists here. You should select local accommodation and transportation wisely. Local tour operators, including those offering adventure activities, may not offer safety standards and equipment that correspond to those found in your country. Telecommunication infrastructure is very poor.
Swimming in lakes and rivers is unsafe because of the possibility of being attacked by wildlife and the risk of catching water-borne diseases. Check with local authorities for the latest information.
There is no ambulance service.