Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 14 January 2020, 12:51 NZDT
  • Still current at: 24 February 2020

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Do not travel

Do not travel to the areas north of the town of Boulsa due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and armed banditry. 

Do not travel within 40 kilometres of the border with Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, and in W National Park due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and armed banditry


Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel elsewhere in Burkina Faso due to the threat of terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry and the potential for civil unrest.

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There is a high threat of terrorism in Burkina Faso, particularly in border areas with Mali and Niger. In 2018, terrorist groups released a statement declaring their intention to target westerners and western companies. There have been multiple attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the country since 2016.  

On 11 August 2018, a convoy returning from a Canadian owned mining site in the east of the country was attacked using a improvised explosive device and small arms fire, killing 5 police officers and 1 civilian.

On March 2, 2018, extremists attacked the French Embassy and Burkina Faso’s military headquarters in downtown Ouagadougou. Eight security force personnel, including soldiers and police officers were killed and over 80 others were injured.

On 13 August 2017, gunmen attacked the Aziz Istanbul restaurant in Ouagadougou, killing at least 18 people.

On 15 January 2016, armed gunmen attacked the Splendid Hotel and Café Cappuccino in Ouagadougou resulted in 30 deaths, a large number of whom were foreign nationals. Further attacks, including those targeting foreigners, cannot be ruled out.

New Zealanders throughout Burkina Faso are advised to maintain a high degree of security awareness at all times, particularly in public areas. Keep yourself informed of potential risks to safety and security by monitoring the media and other local sources of information and follow the instructions of local authorities at all times.

There is a heightened threat of kidnapping in northern parts of Burkina Faso and near the borders with Mali and Niger. Terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have stated their intention to kidnap foreigners and may cross the borders from Mali and Niger to carry out kidnappings.

A number of foreigners have previously been kidnapped in remote parts of West Africa. In September 2018, three foreign nationals were kidnapped in two separate incidents (in the far north, and near Burkina Faso’s southern border with Ghana). The threat is likely to continue. Kidnapping operations throughout Africa are primarily motivated by monetary gain.

New Zealanders in Burkina Faso are strongly advised to seek professional security advice or protection before travelling to areas of particular risk.

Political situation/Civil unrest
The political situation in Burkina Faso has stabilised since the presidential elections in late 2015, however, the security situation could deteriorate with little warning. Demonstrations occur regularly and have the potential to result in violence or clashes.

New Zealanders in Burkina Faso are advised to avoid all protests, demonstrations and large gatherings. 

Banditry is a security concern in Burkina Faso. There continue to be reports of attacks by armed criminals on vehicles, including buses, travelling on a variety of main and secondary roads across the country. Criminals have used road blocks to stop and rob travellers and have been known to open fire on vehicles that refuse to stop. While bandits mainly steal valuables, they may physically harm victims during the course of a robbery.

The highest number of incidents occur in the eastern region but there have been a number of attacks in other regions and the threat exists throughout Burkina Faso. Remote and border regions are especially vulnerable.

New Zealanders in Burkina Faso are advised to travel in convoy if possible, stay on clearly marked roads and avoid travel by night outside major centres. You should seek local advice before setting out and follow a police patrol where possible.

Street crime is prevalent in Burkina Faso and foreigners may be specifically targeted due to their perceived wealth. Bag-snatchings, muggings and theft from hotel rooms are common in Ouagadougou. The central market and the area around the United Nations circle are often targeted by thieves.

Criminals in urban areas may carry knives in order to cut straps on bags and can become violent if the victim is non-compliant. Sexual assault occurs periodically in smaller towns and within Ouagadougou.   

New Zealanders are advised to exercise particular vigilance in crowded or public areas, avoid showing signs of affluence and keep personal belongings secure at all times. Avoid walking alone at night, as risks increase after dark.

Commercial and internet fraud is a common problem in many African countries. New Zealanders in Burkina Faso should be wary of any offers that seem too good to be true, as they may be a scam. For further information see our advice on Internet Fraud and International Scams.

General Travel Advice
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Burkina Faso, the ability of the government to provide consular assistance to New Zealand citizens is extremely limited.

We offer advice to New Zealanders about contingency planning that travellers to Burkina Faso should consider.

New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Burkina Faso to avoid offending local sensitivities.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Burkina Faso should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. 

New Zealanders in Burkina Faso are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Travel tips

See our regional advice for Africa

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