Official advice for New Zealanders living and travelling overseas

  • Reviewed: 25 September 2018, 14:45 NZST
  • Still current at: 15 December 2018

Do not travel

Do not travel to the eastern and northern regions of Mauritania, or to Mauritania’s border areas with Algeria, Mali and Western Sahara due to the risk of military activities, the actions of extremist groups, and the risk of armed banditry and kidnapping. Anyone entering the border area could be considered a legitimate military target. Land mines are also present along the border with Western Sahara.

Do not travel to the provinces of Tiris Zemmour, Adrar, Tagant, Hodh ech Chargui, Hodh El Gharbi, Assaba, and Guidimaka.

Avoid non-essential travel

Avoid non-essential travel elsewhere in Mauritania, including the Nouakchott to Nouadhibou corridor, due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and the unpredictable security situation.

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Kidnapping
There is an ongoing threat of kidnapping against foreigners throughout Mauritania. Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and other groups have specifically targeted and kidnapped foreigners in parts of North Africa and pose a significant security threat in Mauritania.  There is a heightened risk of kidnapping in border and remote desert areas of North Africa. There remains a strong possibility that kidnapped foreigners could be on-sold to terrorist groups.

New Zealanders should maintain a low profile and a high level of vigilance at all times. Ensure appropriate personal security measures are in place and avoid unnecessary travel in remote areas. Travel routes and times should be varied to avoid establishing a predictable routine.

Terrorism
There is a high threat from terrorism in Mauritania. Terrorist attacks could be directed against any locations known to be frequented by foreigners, as well as premises and symbols associated with the Government of Mauritania. The porous nature of borders in the region means terrorist groups are able to operate across borders and carry out attacks anywhere in the region.

New Zealanders are advised to monitor the media for information about threats to safety and security in Mauritania and to follow any advice and instructions issued by the local authorities. 

Violent crime
Violent crime is common in Mauritania. There have been reports of carjackings, robberies and other crime affecting foreigners in the capital Nouakchott. We recommend you avoid the beach at Nouakchott and Le Cinquième district at night. Bandits are active across Mauritania, particularly in remote areas.

New Zealanders are advised to avoid travel after dark and to isolated areas and to avoid displaying or wearing items that appear valuable, such as mobile devices and jewellery. When travelling by car, keep doors locked and windows up at all times and hide valuables from view. If you plan on travelling outside urban areas, we advise seeking reputable local advice and travelling in convoy with adequate security.

Civil unrest
Demonstrations occur from time to time in Mauritania, including in Nouakchott. Most are peaceful although some have involved clashes between security forces and demonstrators.

New Zealanders in Mauritania are advised to avoid all demonstrations, protests and large public gatherings as these may turn violent with little warning.

General travel advice
As there is no New Zealand diplomatic presence in Mauritania, the ability of the government to assist New Zealand citizens is severely limited.

Carry ID, especially when travelling outside urban areas (where you may encounter many police road checks). You should comply promptly with directions from the police and other Mauritanian security forces.

Modesty and discretion should be exercised in both dress and behaviour in Mauritania to avoid offending local sensitivities.

New Zealanders travelling or living in Mauritania should have a comprehensive travel insurance policy in place that includes provision for medical evacuation by air. You should also check your travel insurance covers travel to Mauritania – exclusions may apply.

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

See our regional advice for Africa

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