Posted: 11:51 pm EDT
On September 16, the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou issued a “shelter in place” order for its staff during a military coup that occurred less than a year after the former president, Blaise Compaoré was driven out of power (see US Embassy Burkina Faso Orders Staff to Shelter in Place Amidst Coup Attempt).
On September 21, the State Department issued a Travel Warning for Burkina Faso recommending that U.S. citizens in the country depart “as soon as it is feasible to do so.” It also notified the public that the State Department has authorized the voluntary departure of eligible family members and non-emergency personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Burkina Faso and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Burkina Faso depart as soon as it is feasible to do so.
This Travel Warning is being issued to notify U.S. citizens that on September 21, the Department of State authorized the voluntary departure of eligible family members and non-emergency personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou. U.S. citizens are urged to carefully consider the risks of travel to Burkina Faso and, if already in Burkina Faso, encouraged to review their and their families’ personal safety and security plans to determine whether they and their family members, should depart. U.S. citizens are responsible for making their own travel arrangements. Citizens who decide to remain in Burkina Faso despite this travel warning should maintain situational awareness at all times and register their presence within Burkina Faso with the Embassy by enrolling in STEP. This Travel Warning supersedes and replaces the Travel Alert issued on September 4, 2015.
Embassy staff remaining in Burkina Faso continues to shelter in place. The U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou will operate at reduced staffing levels and will continue to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens.
Elements of the Presidential Security Regiment (RSP) took control of the presidential palace during the weekly council of ministers meeting the afternoon of September 16, detaining President Kafando, Prime Minister Zida, and two additional members of the cabinet of ministers. President Kafando and others have since been released, but Kafando remains under house arrest. Prime Minister Zida remains in detention. Former special chief of staff responsible for the RSP General Gilbert Diendere was declared to be in charge of Burkina Faso following the establishment of a “Conseil national pour la democratie” (CND, the National Council for Democracy).
The security environment in Ouagadougou remains fluid. Gunfire continues to be reported in locations throughout Ouagadougou. Elements of the RSP have set road blocks and have engaged in crowd control measures. Civilians have also established roadblocks around the city. The level of activity on the street has diminished, and many businesses providing essential services—including food, gasoline and cooking fuel—remain closed. Local electricity and water utility providers have declared a strike, which could further decrease the level of services provided to residents. A nationwide curfew remains in place from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Outside of Ouagadougou, the security situation varies, but remains dynamic and susceptible to change at any moment. There have been reports of demonstrations in Bobo-Dioulasso, Gaoua, Fada N’Gourma, and Ouahigouya. Due to reports that roadways between major cities may be impassable, U.S. citizens in Burkina Faso may find that at times sheltering in place may be the only and best security option.
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