Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 19 September 2017, 10:30 NZST
  • Still current at: 16 December 2017

Extreme Risk

There is extreme risk to your security in areas north of the town of Boulsa. We advise against all travel to these areas due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and armed banditry. 

There is extreme risk to your security within 40 kilometres of the border with Mali and in W National Park due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and armed banditry. We advise against all travel to these areas.

High Risk

There is high risk to your security elsewhere in Burkina Faso. We advise against all tourist and other non-essential travel due to the threat of terrorism, kidnapping, armed banditry and the potential for civil unrest.

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Terrorism
There is a high threat of terrorism in Burkina Faso, particularly in border areas with Mali and Niger. On 13 August 2017, gunmen attacked the Aziz Istanbul restaurant in Ouagadougou, resulting in 18 fatalities. 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 Westerners, cannot be ruled out. Violent extremist elements remain active within the region.

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.

Kidnapping
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 Westerners have previously been kidnapped in remote parts of West Africa. In mid-January 2016, two Australian expatriates were kidnapped from the town of Djibo, in northern Burkina Faso. 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
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. Travel by night outside Ouagadougou is dangerous.

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.

Crime
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.

Scams
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.

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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