Adam and I just registered with the US Embassy in Kinshasa to ensure that our presence would be known. Before allowing me to confirm my registration, I had to scroll through a novel of warnings, cautions, and general paranoia.
It makes me wonder what the US Embassy said when I lived in North Kivu!!
The Department of State continues to warn U.S. citizens against travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). Conditions within certain regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) remain dangerous. Official personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa are restricted from travel to the North Kivu area unless the travel is for official business and has been authorized by the Embassy.
Fighting between armed rebels, Congolese military forces, and U.N. peacekeeping troops continues in the provinces of North and South Kivu, eastern Orientale, northern Katanga, and sporadically in Bas Congo. U.S. citizens are warned particularly against travel in eastern Congo as fighting there is expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Armed groups as well as active duty and demobilized Congolese troops in parts of the country, including eastern Congo, are known to pillage, carjack, and steal vehicles, kill extra-judicially, rape, kidnap, and carry out military or paramilitary operations. Government soldiers, as well as rebel fighters expected to be demobilized as a result of ongoing peace processes, remain a security concern. Travelers are frequently detained and questioned by poorly disciplined security forces at numerous roadblocks and border crossings throughout the country.
Travelers to the DRC frequently experience difficulties at the airport and other ports of entry, such as temporary detention, passport confiscation, and demands by immigration and security personnel for unofficial “special fees.” Visas are not available at ports of entry. All resident foreigners, including Americans, are required to register at the office of the Direction General de Migration (DGM) in the commune of their place of residence. Border closures of 24-48 hour durations can occur without much advance notice.
Enforcement of aviation safety standards in the DRC is uneven, with frequent incidents and crashes. The U.S. Embassy has prohibited official travel by U.S. government employees and contractors on all DRC-owned and operated commercial airlines due to safety and maintenance concerns. International flights on foreign-owned and –operated carriers are not affected by this notice.
American citizens should avoid all public demonstrations and areas where crowds are gathered, exercise caution, and closely watch and listen for local and international news from reliable sources. Radio Okapi broadcasts in French on 103.5 FM at 0700, 0800, 1200, and 1800 as well as “flash” updates throughout the day. English-language news can be found on BBC at 92.7 FM. In times of emergency, the Belgian Embassy operates a French-language radio broadcast system at FM 98.8. Changes in security conditions may occasionally restrict the travel of U.S. Mission personnel.