- Reviewed: 19 March 2020, 13:50 NZDT
- Still current at: 29 March 2020
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There is a heightened risk of terrorism throughout Kenya. The Somalia based terrorist group Al Shabaab has carried out a number of past attacks in Kenya and continues to publicly threaten to carry out further attacks. Credible information indicates that Westerners may be targeted by extremists in Nairobi, coastal areas of Kenya, Naivasha and Nanyuki. Kenya could be targeted as they have contributed soldiers to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).
The majority of attacks occur in coastal regions and in the north-east of the country near the Somali border and have included shootings, bombings and grenade attacks.
An ongoing threat remains in Nairobi and Mombasa. In 2013, an attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi resulted in 68 deaths, including foreigners. On 11 September 2016 there was an attack on a police station in Mombasa with knives and petrol bombs. Since May 2017 there have been multiple attacks in Garissa country, Lamu country and Mandera county, involving improvised explosive devices, armed militia and fatal knife attacks, resulting in over 60 police and civilian fatalities. In September and October 2017, gun fights in Kwale county on the southern coast have resulted in fatalities.
Future attacks are likely, and could happen at any time. Such attacks could be directed at foreigners or places frequented by travellers, including Government buildings, places of worship, transport hubs, public areas and United Nations facilities.
New Zealanders in Kenya are advised to be security conscious at all times and follow any instructions and restrictions issued by the local authorities. Particular care should be taken in crowded and public areas known to be frequented by foreigners, as well as on and around public transport. Additional security measures such as avoiding areas with large crowds should be considered.
There is a high crime rate in Kenya, particularly in the major cities of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu. Violent crime, including carjacking, mugging and armed robbery is common especially in urban areas. Foreigners travelling to or from the international airports in Nairobi and Mombasa have been targeted, and advice for Jomo Kenyatta Airport is to use Mombasa road, rather than the old airport road (Airport South Road) and Jogoo Road. In the past, foreigners have been the target of home invasions in Nairobi. Slum areas have higher crime rates – New Zealanders should exercise extreme caution in the Nairobi areas of Buruburu, Eastleigh, Kasarani, Kibera, Mathare, Pangani, South B and South C.
In the old town of Mombasa and on and around the Likoni ferry, the crime rate is similar to other areas during daylight. However there is increased criminal activity at night, including robberies and street attacks. Stampedes and overcrowding on the ferry have resulted in multiple injuries. New Zealanders in Kenya should avoid walking or travelling alone, particularly at night and to isolated areas.
There are also some instances of petty crime, such as pickpocketing, bag snatching and robberies. Avoid displaying or wearing items that appear valuable, such as mobile devices and jewellery. No resistance should be given if you are the victim of an armed robbery, mugging or carjacking as this could lead to an escalation in violence. Police capacity to respond to crime and other incidents is very limited. Beware of thieves acting as Police Officers, Security Guards or Government officials, and always ask for ID.
When travelling by car, it is advisable to keep doors locked and windows up at all times, hide valuables from view and do not stop to assist with vehicle breakdowns, clear debris from the road or pick up hitchhikers. Travel in remote areas should be undertaken in convoy. If travelling to Lamu Town or Manda island, it is advised to do so by air rather than by road travel.
There is an ongoing risk of kidnapping in areas close to the border with Somalia, Garissa county and coastal areas north of Pate Island in Lamu county. Westerners have previously been the target of kidnappers in these areas, including in the Dadaab refugee camp, and further attacks are considered likely. New Zealanders in Kenya are advised to be particularly vigilant about their personal security in these areas and keep a low profile in public places.
Political tensions arose in the wake of two disputed presidential elections in 2017, although subsequent political reconciliations have seen tensions abate. Kenya’s next general election will be held in 2022 and there is potential for tensions to re-escalate in the lead up to that. Demonstrations and clashes are possible throughout the country, particularly in the Western region and at all political gatherings including those at county level.
New Zealanders in Kenya are advised to avoid all demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings as even those intended as peaceful have the potential to turn violent with little warning. Avoid areas where an event may take place, such as government buildings, universities, political party headquarters and electoral commission offices. Monitor local and international media, review personal security plans and be aware of your surroundings. If unexpectedly in the vicinity of a protest or demonstration, exercise caution and leave the area quickly.
Banditry, tribal clashes and sporadic violence have occurred in parts of north and north-eastern Kenya. Foreigners are not normally involved or targeted but could be incidentally caught up in violence.
Following recent political tensions, there has been an increase of violence and arson by herders onto private farms and wildlife areas in Saringo and Samburu counties in central and northern Kenya. A British national was killed on his property in Laikipia on 5 March 2017 – the Kenyan government has increased security forces in the area, but tribal clashes with local herders still occur. If you are travelling to this area, check with your accomodation or tour provider about conditions on the ground.
Piracy remains a significant threat in the coastal waters off Kenya. In the past Somali pirates have attacked vessels as far as 1000 nautical miles from the Somalian coast. Mariners are advised to be vigilant and take appropriate precautionary measures in these waters. For more information view the International Maritime Bureau's piracy report.
General travel advice
It is a legal requirement to carry a form of identification with you at all times. Failure to produce them could result in a fine or arrest.
New Zealanders are advised to respect religious and social traditions in Kenya to avoid offending local sensitivities. We would advise against taking photos when visiting poorer neighbourhoods, as there has been incidents of stone throwing.
Taking photographs of official buildings (including embassies) and airports can lead to detention. If in doubt, seek advice from an official before taking photographs.
New Zealanders travelling or living in Kenya should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air.
New Zealanders in Kenya are strongly encouraged to register their details with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The New Zealand Embassy Addis Ababa, Ethiopia is accredited to Kenya
Street Address Bole Sub City, Woreda 09, House No 111, Behind Atlas Hotel/close to Shala Park, (Namibia Street), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Postal Address New Zealand Embassy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Private Bag 18-901 Wellington Mail Centre 5045, Wellington Telephone +251-11-515-1269 Fax +251-11-552-6115 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Web Site https://www.mfat.govt.nz/ethiopia Hours Monday – Friday, 9am-12pm & 1pm-4pm Note In an emergency or if you require urgent assistance, please call the Embassy on +251 11 515 1269. Outside of business hours you will be redirected to an after-hours duty service.
New Zealand Honorary Consulate Nairobi, Kenya
Street Address 7th Floor, Kenya Medical Centre, Mara Road, Upper Hill, Nairobi Postal Address PO Box 41272, Nairobi 00100 Telephone +254 20 2300166, + 254 20 2711645 Mobile +254 720 630 100 Email email@example.com Note The Honorary Consulate in Nairobi is currently contactable by email only and performing limited services until further notice. In an emergency or if you require urgent assistance, please contact the New Zealand Embassy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (accredited to Kenya).
See our regional advice for Africa
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Accredited New Zealand Embassy Ethiopia
Bole Sub City, Woreda 09, House No 111, Behind Atlas Hotel/close to Shala Park, (Namibia Street), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Hours: Monday – Friday, 9am-12pm & 1pm-4pm