Posted: 3:07 pm EDT
On May 15, 2015, the US Embassy in Bujumbura, Burundi went on Ordered Departure status (see New #Burundi Travel Warning, Non-Emergency US Embassy Staff & Family Members Now on Ordered Departure).
On November 3, 2015, the State Department updated its Travel Warning for Burundi, informing U.S. citizens that it has terminated the Ordered Departure status, allowing eligible family members and non-emergency personnel who departed Burundi to return.
On November 15, Belgium advised its citizens to leave Burundi, while the EU announced a cut in staff levels at its embassy in the country because of the “rising risk of violence” (see EU Evac From Burundi On, a Fresh Round of Ordered Departure For US Embassy Bujumbura?).
On December 13, the State Department issued a new Travel Warning for Burundi and announced the ordered departure of USG dependents and non-emergency personnel, the second evacuation from post this year alone:
The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to Burundi and recommends that U.S. citizens currently in Burundi depart as soon as it is feasible to do so. As a result of continuing violence, the Department of State ordered the departure of dependents of U.S. government personnel and non-emergency U.S. government personnel from Burundi on December 13. The U.S. Embassy is able to offer only very limited emergency services to U.S. citizens in Burundi. This Travel Warning supersedes the Travel Warning issued on November 3, 2015.
Political violence persists throughout Burundi in the aftermath of the country’s contested elections, an attempted coup d’etat and the debate over the President standing for a third term. Armed groups operate in Burundi and gunfire and grenade attacks occur with frequency, but are usually not directed at foreigners. If you encounter such a situation, stay indoors in a ground floor interior room away from doors and windows. Government command and control of the armed forces and security services is not complete. Police and military checkpoints throughout the country have the potential to seriously restrict freedom of movement. Police have also searched the homes of private U.S. citizens as a part of larger weapons searches.
U.S. citizens interested in departing Burundi should note that departure plans can be subject to change because of safety and security factors as well as varying availability of commercial transport. U.S. citizens interested in departing should therefore monitor the media, check with airlines to verify flight schedules, and also check U.S. Embassy Bujumbura’s website for the latest consular information, including security messages. The U.S. Embassy continues to monitor potential airport and land border closures.
Demonstrations, gatherings, and even sporting events that are intended to be peaceful can turn violent without advance warning. For this reason, U.S. citizens should routinely monitor local media sources and the Internet for reports of demonstrations and unrest, and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and crowds of any kind.
Travel outside of Bujumbura presents significant risks, especially after nightfall. The U.S. embassy limits and monitors the travel of its personnel in Burundi. All movement by embassy employees outside the city from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 a.m. is prohibited. Likewise, U.S. citizens should not travel on national highways from dusk to dawn. Armed criminals ambush vehicles, particularly on the roads leading out of Bujumbura. Keep vehicle doors locked and windows up when stopped in heavy traffic.