Burundi Country Report
The ruling CNDD-FDD party dominates the state at all levels, and President Pierre Nkurunziza, despite a widely reported "pledge to step down" (which was actually more ambiguous), remains likely to stand for re-election in 2020. Coup attempt risks originating from within the CNDD-FDD and military will increase if Nkurunziza is not able obtain the restoration of donor budgetary assistance and sanctions relief, particularly as the 2020 elections approach. Security forces' operations are regularly accused of arbitrary detention and extrajudicial killings. Key government decisions remain the exclusive purview of Nkurunziza and his inner circle of former civil-war generals, rendering the policy-making process unpredictable. Perceived opposition-linked businesses and NGOs are likely to facelegal investigation and forced closure. The ongoing political instability and violence will dampen the near-term economic outlook.
Burundi's operational environment remains highly challenging, with roads, electricity, and telephone access all limited. Continuing political instability and insecurity frustrate the rehabilitation of Burundi's infrastructure, which was severely impacted by the 1993–2005 civil war. Corruption is an endemic problem, reaching the highest levels of government, and Burundi has been identified as the most corrupt country in the East African Community (EAC). The level of bureaucracy and regulation has reached high levels because of political expediency and the need to accommodate former militants in an expanded government structure and civil service.
The frequency of small-arms attacks in the capital, Bujumbura, remains below its 2015–16 height, with incidents now occurring less than once a month. Attacks against security forces and ruling party and government assets continue regularly outside Bujumbura, particularly in Bubanza, Bujumbura Rural, and Cibitoke provinces. The Rwandan government (in response to militants' raids into Rwanda from Burundi during June–July 2018, probably sponsored by the Burundian government) will likely increase its assistance to Burundian anti-government militant groups based in neighbouring DRC, increasing the likelihood of their raiding into Burundi's northwest, including Bujumbura's outskirts. The DRC-based FNL-Nzabampema militant group poses kidnapping and road cargo theft.
Security-forces purges following the failed May 2015 coup attempt have shored up President Nkurunziza's control of these institutions, and severely curtailed the likelihood of an opposition-orientated coup attempt. However, a coup attempt originating from within the ruling CNDD-FDD party, supported by military and Imbonerakure elements, will be increasingly likely towards 2020 if Nkurunziza fails to obtain the restoration of donor budgetary assistance and sanctions relief. Security forces' violence directed against Burundi's minority ethnic-Tutsi community would likely trigger Rwandan intervention in the form of material support for anti-Nkurunziza armed groups, risking wider civil war in Burundi. Conventional interstate war with Burundi's neighbours is unlikely.
Constitutional changes, which essentially ended political power-sharing in Burundi and formalised the augmented control of President Nkurunziza and the ruling CNDD-FDD party, were passed by referendum in May 2018 without significant unrest. This indicates that targeted state violence against the opposition, civil society activists, and journalists has effectively minimised scope for mobilisation of anti-government protests. Consequently, mass anti-government protests like those seen in Bujumbura during April–May 2015 (against Nkurunziza's third term bit) are now unlikely in the one-year outlook. Anti-government protests that do occur will likely be sporadic and limited to Bujumbura's "opposition" neighbourhoods, during hours of darkness.
Vaccines Required to Enter the Country
Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for all travelers over one year of age upon entry to the country. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.
Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers
Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).
Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended for travelers over nine months of age.
Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers
Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.
Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).
Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.
Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers
Cholera: A newly licensed cholera vaccine (Vaxchora) has just been made available and may be prescribed for adults traveling to areas with active cholera transmission. The vaccine prevents severe diarrhea caused by the most common type of cholera bacteria. As the vaccine is not fully effective, hygienic precautions should also be taken (e.g. drinking only bottled water, eating only thoroughly cooked foods, washing hands regularly, etc.).
Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.
Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).
Heavy rains during the country's rainy season (February to May) commonly cause flash floods and may result in hazardous mudslides, damage to infrastructure, and significant disruption to travel in the country.
Bujumbura is located in close proximity to an active fault line; though earthquakes are infrequent, there remains the possibility of a large-magnitude earthquake. Previous regional earthquakes have been felt in the region, though there has been no infrastructure damage or casualties.
Though national highways are in fairly good condition, most interior roads are in a poor state, often making travel by road extremely dangerous; drivers often have aggressive driving habits, making serious accidents common. Poor vehicle maintenance and driving standards make traveling by public transport (including taxis, mini-buses, and "moto" motorbike-taxis) potentially unsafe.
Road blocks and identification checkpoints are common. There have been increasing reports of robberies at fake police checkpoints. Access to and from Bujumbura is controlled by police at night.
Though all airports are currently open, given recent instability flights could be canceled and airports forced to close on short notice. Since the outburst of violence in December 2015, Kenya Airways, RwandAir, and FlyDubai have canceled their flights to and from Bujumbura.
The country has limited infrastructural development, especially outside of Bujumbura. Prolonged power outages and water shortages are regularly reported in the summer, even in Bujumbura.
Burundi has a tropical climate. Temperatures vary depending on elevation. In the lower regions (the Imbo Plain) temperatures can reach 23°C while in higher regions (Mount Heha), they seldom go above 15°C.
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