The U.S. State Department has warned American citizens of the risks of traveling to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and recommended against non-essential travel to eastern and north-eastern parts of the African country.
Armed groups, bandits, and elements of the Congolese military continue to raise security concerns in eastern and north-eastern DRC, the State Department said in a Travel Warning issued on Wednesday.
These armed groups, primarily located in the North Kivu, South Kivu, and Orientale provinces, as well as the northern part of Katanga province, and the eastern part of Maniema province, are known to pillage, steal vehicles, kidnap, rape, kill, and carry out military or paramilitary operations in which civilians are indiscriminately targeted.
The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is present near the border with Uganda, Central African Republic, and the Republic of South Sudan. The U.N. Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) continues to assist the Congolese government with the protection of civilians and efforts to combat armed groups.
The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa has strictly limited travel by official personnel to North Kivu. Travel to that region for Embassy personnel is permitted only under exceptional circumstances.
In the past year, several U.S. citizens were illegally detained by government forces. Very poor infrastructure (road and air) makes the provision of consular services difficult outside of Kinshasa.
Kinshasa has a critical crime threat level, and U.S. citizens continue to be the victims of serious crimes, including armed robbery by groups posing as law enforcement officials in both urban and rural areas, especially after nightfall.
Americans have been advised to avoid all travel by public transportation, and hire private transport from a reliable source.
Domestic air travel on Congolese or other local airlines in the DRC is not recommended. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has assessed the government of the DRC as not being compliant with international standards for aviation safety oversight.
The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa has strongly encouraged U.S. citizens who travel to or remain in the DRC despite this Travel Warning to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that they can receive the most up-to-date security information.
by RTT Staff Writer
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