Threat level: High
Although the threat of terror in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is very low, the risk presented by civil unrest and high levels of serious crimes makes it a dangerous country to visit. Travel to Goma, Bukavu and to the regions of N’djili and Kimbanseke in Kinshasa are strictly forbidden to foreign nationals.
If visiting the Democratic Republic of the Congo, extreme caution and a high level of vigilance should be exercised at all times. Many regions are advised against travelling to and it is highly recommended to only travel with a Close Protection team. If you are in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for business purposes, it is your employer’s duty of care to ensure the correct security measure are in place to keep you safe.
Recent Security Risk Events
In March of 2017 members of militia group Rahiya Mutomboki abducted a French national, a Tanzanian and three Congolese nationals at the Namoya gold mine. It is belived that the militants have demanded a ransom and a contract to construct roads and other basic infrastructure in the area.
The French mining company Banro’s four other gold and precious materials mines in Twangiza, Democratic Republic of the Congo, have been repeatedly targeted by armed militias in recent years, which remain active despite the official end to a regional conflict in 2003. It is advised not to take trips to these mines as a tourist unless deemed absolutely necessarily.
In early 2015 there were political demonstrations in the Kinshasa region in response to an electoral reform bill being considered by parliament. These demonstrations turned violent overnight and without warning. Troops and armed police were deployed to the streets to maintain order. 30 people were killed as a result of the violent demonstrations. Avoid large gatherings and monitor the local media when possible to avoid getting mixed up in any political demonstrations.
Many small armed conflicts occur in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Katanga Province has experienced wide spread fighting in recent years, the situation there remains tense.
North Kivu has experienced a recent series of kidnappings. There are also ongoing military operations against armed groups in North Kivu and bystanders can easily get caught up in conflicts. You should not travel alone in this area, only drive as part of a convoy and avoid all travel at night.
Foreign nationals are at particular risk of street robbery. Robberies are usually carried out by gangs of street children and armed bandits. North and South Kivu are particularly high risk areas. You should be extra vigilant after dark and avoid displaying any expensive jewellery on you. Tourists are often targeted for their perceived wealth so it is advised not to carry large sums of cash.
The political situation in the wide spread region of the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo remains unstable. As well as political unrest which sometimes leads to anger at the international community, the risk of criminal acts are at an increased level, and attacks by armed men on NGO compounds regularly occur in this part of the country.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is in the process of a civil war that has drawn in military forces from neighbouring African countries, with Uganda and Rwanda supporting the rebel movements that occupy much of the eastern portion of the country. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is also a member of the International Criminal Court with a Bilateral Immunity Agreement of protection for the US military.
You will need an international driving permit to drive in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, renting a car is very difficult and options are very limited. The conditions of the roads are extremely poor that most are barely drivable even with a 4×4. The rainy season which runs from September to May make most roads impassable. The British FCO advise against using any form of public transport.
Be aware of the risk of vehicle theft and hijackings. Lock vehicle doors and keep windows closed when driving. Armed gangs may target your car so be vigilant at all times. It is advised not to drive in rural areas.