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.
Northern Mali (see Advisory)
Armed rebels captured the northern regions of Gao, Tombouktou and Kidal in the spring of 2012. MINUSMA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, has been supporting authorities in stabilizing the region. While most of the Malian territory has been liberated, military clashes with armed rebels continue to occur in the northern regions.
The risk of kidnapping is high throughout Mali, especially in the northern regions and in border areas.
There is a very high risk of kidnapping in northern Mali, and Westerners are a preferred target. In past instances, some hostages have been detained for months before being released, and some have been killed. Most recently, a Red Cross team was kidnapped between the towns of Kidal and Gao in February 2014. In November 2013, two French journalists were kidnapped in the town of Kidal and subsequently killed.
Use varied and unpredictable routes and schedules when moving from one place to another, exercise particular caution when travelling on highways, even in daylight hours, and avoid border areas.
On March 7, 2015, an attack occurred in Bamako at a restaurant popular among foreigners, killing five people and injuring at least eight others. If you are in Bamako, you should avoid travelling in urban areas after 7 p.m., especially in places frequented by foreigners, for the time being.
MINUSMA, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Mali, has been supporting authorities in stabilizing the situation in the northern regions. Terrorist groups in the region declared their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. Targets could include government buildings, public areas, tourist sites and Western interests. Citizens of countries supporting the military intervention are at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance.
The presence of terrorists is reported in the northern regions of Mali and along the Mauritanian border.
Screening measures are in place at entry points in an attempt to contain the Ebola outbreak.
Demonstrations may occur and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They can lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Canadians are advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Attacks by armed highway robbers (known as œcoupeurs de route) have taken place. Attacks can occur both during the day and at night. If you are considering travelling by road you should plan your journey carefully and take security precautions.
Carjackings occur throughout Mali, especially in the North.
Petty crime occurs. Panhandlers are common. Be careful of scam artists at the Bamako airport. Tourists should travel in groups, remain alert, ensure their personal belongings and travel documents are secure, and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.
Corruption is prevalent. Police may stop motorists and request payments for unknown reasons.
Food products are sometimes sold past their expiry date. Higher prices may be charged for merchandise bought in markets.
Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in Mali. See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.
Women may be subject to certain forms of harassment and verbal abuse. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Safe-Travel Guide for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.
Exercise extreme caution when driving. Road conditions off major roads are poor. Driving standards, lack of traffic signals, excessive speed, pedestrians and livestock on roadways, traffic congestion, the absence of sidewalks and poorly lit streets all pose serious risks. Overloaded transport vehicles often break down and cause accidents. Many vehicles lack lights. Roadside assistance is not available. Avoid driving at night.
During the rainy season, some dirt roads may be impassable without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Vehicles should be equipped with spare tires and an emergency kit. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Public transportation is unreliable in the capital. Determine taxi fares before departure.
See Transportation Safety in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.
General safety information
Remain extremely vigilant, follow the political and social developments carefully, register with the Embassy of Canada in Bamako and follow messages issued through the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service. If the security situation in Mali deteriorates, the availability of consular services at the Embassy of Canada may be limited.