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Mali Travel Advice

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Mali Travel Advice

Post by Ted-Pencry on 15/12/2012, 14:34

Sub Saharan Africa

Mali

Updated: 11 December 2012

Avoid all travel to whole country

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendments to the Travel Summary and the Safety and Security - Political situation section (resignation of Prime Minister). The overall level of the advice has not changed; we advise against all travel to Mali.





TRAVEL SUMMARY

We advise against all travel to Mali.

On 10 December, the Malian Prime Minister, Cheick Mobidu Diarra was arrested and forced to resign along with his cabinet. The situation remains unclear and civil disorder is possible. You should keep a low profile and stay alert to local political developments. Avoid sensitive areas (e.g. government Ministries and military installations) and any large gatherings. If a demonstration or disturbance is taking place, you should leave the area as quickly and as safely as possible. We also recommend that you maintain several days’ stock of food and water. You can closely monitor daily developments in English through the BBC World Service (88.9 FM in Bamako).

Although the UK Embassy in Bamako is open, our current ability to deliver full consular services remains severely reduced. If you need urgent consular assistance please contact the British Embassy in Dakar on (221) 33 823 7392 or (221) 33 823 9971 or the FCO in London on +44 (0)20 7008 1500. A full consular service in Bamako will resume shortly, but in the meantime, services will only be provided in Bamako in exceptional circumstances. You should continue to check for updates to this travel advice or subscribe to e-mail alerts. You should register on LOCATE so that we are able to contact you in an emergency.

Following Eid, and the end of Ramadan, on 20 August, the British Embassy has reverted to normal opening hours. The Embassy will open from 08:00-13:00, and 14:00-16:00 on Mondays-Thursdays, and 08:00-12:00 on Fridays.

Although the situation in Bamako has stabilised, the situation is still volatile. We continue to advise British nationals who remain in the city to keep a low profile and stay alert to local political developments. You should avoid areas of sensitivity (e.g. government Ministries and military installations). You should avoid any large gatherings of people. If a demonstration or disturbance is taking place, you should leave the area as quickly and as safely as possible. We also recommend that you maintain several days’ stock of food and water. You can closely monitor daily developments in English through the BBC World Service (88.9 FM in Bamako).

On 21 November 2012 a French national was kidnapped near the town of Kayes, close to the Senegalese/Mauritanian border.

Attacks by Tuareg rebels have taken place since mid January 2012 in a range of areas across the north of Mali. Over the weekend of 31 March, further attacks by rebels resulted in the capture of Gao and Timbuktu from government control. Along with the capture of Kidal on 30 March, this has left northern Mali effectively outside of government control.

There is a high threat from terrorism in Mali. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is a high threat of kidnapping in Mali. A number of Westerners have been kidnapped by terrorists in Mali and the Sahel region. These attacks have on occasion resulted in the murder of the hostage. Since the coup in March 2012, and in the ongoing political unrest, we judge there is a heightened threat of kidnap in Mali. Further attacks are highly likely. See Safety and Security - Terrorism.

You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See the General - Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a high threat from terrorism in Mali. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

There is a high threat of kidnapping in Mali by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) and the splinter group the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa (MUJWA).A number of Westerners have been kidnapped by these groups in Mali and the Sahel region. These attacks have on occasion resulted in the murder of the hostage. Since the coup in March 2012, and in the ongoing political unrest, we judge there is a heightened threat of kidnap and that further attacks are highly likely.

AQ-M uses northern Mali as an operating base, but has proven capability of travelling long distances to carry out attacks, including in neighbouring countries. The kidnap threat is not isolated to terrorist strongholds in the north. Criminal gangs have previously been engaged to carry out kidnappings for terrorist groups in return for financial rewards. Attacks could therefore take place throughout Mali.

Since 2008, over 25 Westerners have been kidnapped in the Sahel. Victims have included tourists, NGO workers and diplomats of a variety of nationalities, primarily European. A number of these hostages are still being held, including a group of French nationals kidnapped in September 2010. A British citizen was amongst a group of tourists who were kidnapped in Mali in January 2009. He was killed some months later.

Recent attacks in Mali include:

On 21 November 2012 a French national was kidnapped near the town of Kayes, close to the Senegalese/Mauritanian border.

On 15 April 2012, a Swiss national was kidnapped in Timbuktu. She was subsequently released on 24 April 2012.

On 25 November 2011, four Western tourists were attacked in Timbuktu. One was killed and three others kidnapped. The Malian authorities subsequently evacuated all foreign tourists from Timbuktu. The hostages are still being held.
On 24 November 2011, two French nationals were kidnapped from a hotel in the town of Hombori, to the north east of Mopti. They are still being held.

On 5 January 2011 the French Embassy in Bamako was attacked by an individual using explosives and a handgun.
See our Sahel for more information on the regional threat from terrorism.

You should be aware that the long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.


Safety and Security - Crime
There have been incidents of armed banditry, car-jacking, and kidnap in northern Mali. Bandits and smugglers are particularly active across the Mali-Algeria, Mali-Guinea and Mali-Niger borders and constitute a real risk to travellers, especially after dark.

The Malian authorities have provided the following numbers in case of emergencies:

80 00 11 14
80 00 11 15
20 22 13 35
20 23 95 15
20 23 95 11


Safety and Security - Local Travel
We advise against all travel to Mali.


Landmines have been used by groups operating in North and North East Mali.

Travel in Mali can be difficult and conditions are poor for overland travel. You should take all necessary safety precautions, especially outside of main urban areas, have confidence in your security arrangements and maintain a high level of vigilance. See our Rally Racing page.


Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel

Night-time checkpoints continue to operate in Bamako, largely controlling access to military and Government bases/buildings. Checkpoints are in place from approximately 2100 hours until dawn.


You should keep vehicle and personal identification documents with you at all times while travelling by road. Approach security checkpoints slowly and comply with instructions given.


Road conditions off the main roads are often poor, especially in the rainy season (June to September). Other road users may drive dangerously and follow unsafe practices. You should take particular care and attention when driving in urban centres.


Safety and Security – Local Travel – Air Travel
The airport in Bamako has re-opened. Commercial flights travelling into and out of the country are operating on a restricted schedule.



Safety and Security - Political Situation

Mali Country Profile

A transitional government was appointed to return Mali to constitutional civilian rule in April 2012 and a Government of National Unity was appointed in August 2012. Prime Minister Cheick Modibu Diarra was arrested by armed men during the night of 10 December 2012 and resigned along with his Cabinet. The political situation remains uncertain.

It has been reported that a journalist was kidnapped by soldiers and badly beaten on the night of 12 July 2012.

Attacks by Tuareg rebels have taken place since mid January 2012 in a range of areas across the north of Mali. Over the weekend of 31 March, further attacks by rebels resulted in the capture of Gao and Timbuktu from government control. Along with the capture of Kidal on 30 March, this has left northern Mali effectively outside of government control.

British nationals who remain in Bamako should keep a low profile and stay alert to local political developments. You should avoid areas of sensitivity (e.g. government Ministries and military installations) and follow news reports and be alert to any developments which might trigger public protests or unrest.

You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people. If you become aware of any nearby violence you should leave the area immediately. You should keep yourself informed of developments, including by regularly checking this advice.

LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

Mali is a Muslim country and their laws and customs are very different to those in the UK. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. See our Travelling during Ramadan page.

Women are expected to dress modestly. Homosexuality is legal in Mali, but not widely accepted.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS


Entry Requirements - Visas
British citizens require a visa to enter Mali, obtainable from a Malian Embassy or Consulate. There are Malian Embassies in some neighbouring countries, which issue visas. However we are currently advising against all travel to Mali.

Entry Requirements - Yellow Fever vaccination certificate
You must also have a valid international vaccination card with a valid yellow fever immunisation.

Entry Requirements - Passport Validity
You must hold a valid passport to enter Mali. Your passport must be valid for the proposed duration of your stay. No additional period of validity beyond this is required. However, it is always sensible to have a short period of extra validity on your passport in case of any unforeseen delays to your departure. You do not have to wait until your old passport expires to apply to renew it. Any time left on your old passport when you apply will be added to your new passport, up to a maximum of nine months. For passport applications in the UK, you should apply to the Identity and Passport Service.

Entry Requirements - Travelling with children
For information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Mali Embassy in Brussels.

HEALTH

Contact your GP around eight weeks before your trip to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures. Country specific information and advice is published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and useful information about healthcare abroad, including a country-by-country guide of reciprocal health care agreements with the UK, is available from NHS Choices.

Medical facilities in Mali are very limited. The Pasteur Clinic in Bamako can treat emergency cases and provide diagnostic facilities (Tel 00223 2291010 or Email cliniquepasteur@afribone.net.ml). Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad and repatriation.

Cholera, malaria and other tropical diseases are common to Mali. Outbreaks of meningitis also occur, usually from the end of February to mid-April.

You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Mali you should seek immediate medical attention.

In the 2010 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 66,000 adults aged 15 or over in Mali were living with HIV; the prevalence percentage was estimated at around 1% of the adult population compared to the prevalence percentage in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 223 222 50 02 or 223 222 27 12. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment.


NATURAL DISASTERS

Natural Disasters - Rainy Season

The rainy season in Mali is from May to November. Torrential rains can cause floods and landslides. You should monitor local weather reports and expect difficulties when travelling to affected areas during this season.


GENERAL

General - Insurance
You should take out comprehensive medical and travel insurance before travelling. This should include cover for medical treatment and evacuation, accidents, cancelled flights and stolen cash, credit cards, passport and luggage. Check for any exclusions and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.

If things do go wrong when you are oversees then see our When Things Go Wrong page.

General - Consular assistance
Although the British Embassy has re-opened, our current ability to deliver full consular services from Bamako remains severely reduced. If you need urgent consular assistance, please contact the British Embassy in Dakar on (221) 33 823 7392 or (221) 33 823 9971 or the FCO in London on +44 (0)20 7008 1500. A full consular service in Bamako will resume shortly, but in the meantime, services will only be provided in Bamako in exceptional circumstances.

General - Registration
British nationals residing in Mali should register at the British Embassy, as should anyone intending to travel up-country.

Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.

You may also like to take advantage of an information service run by the US Embassy which provides important security updates in English by SMS text. If you would like the US Embassy to contact you directly, please send your mobile phone number to consularbamako@state.gov. You should identify yourself as a British national when registering

General - Money
Major banks and hotels accept credit cards and travellers cheques. However access to money from ATMs and Banks may be limited with the onset of restrictive measures.

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Ted-Pencry
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