Djibouti Country Report
President Guelleh's extended family dominates the construction, logistics, telecommunications, and tourism sectors through Issa and Issaq sub-clans. Parastatal companies affiliated with the health minister, who is challenging the president's succession plans, are likely to be targeted by an anti-corruption audit in 2020. Personalised commercial relationships expose foreign investors to bribery and corruption risks when dealing with Djiboutian contractors. Bribes are typically sought when bidding for tenders and companies in favour with the ruling family are typically given an unfair advantage. Private-sector labour unrest is rare and the government exercises punitive legal powers in response.
Elements of the now largely dismantled anti-government FRUD-Armé are likely to exploit grievances among ethnic-Afar stemming from the political domination of the Issa clan. The Djiboutian military has neutralised the FRUD-Armé's capability to conduct small arms attacks against military assets and convoys in the Obock region. Separately, Djibouti's military participation in the regional African Union Mission in Somalia and hosting of French and US military bases make it an aspirational target for Al-Shabaab militants. However, the group has limited access to local support networks that are typically necessary to evade the security services during the planning and preparation phases. Western hotels are otherwise priority targets.
Opportunistic petty crimes are common, motivated by the high level of unemployment among youth. Most reported incidents have involved pick-pocketing and minor theft in which violence is uncommon and limited to cases in which those targeted resist. The rural population in some parts of Obock, Tadjourah, and Dikhil has access to small arms (such as hunting rifles), so violent crime does occur occasionally. Early prisoner releases to ease prison congestion during the COVID-19 pandemic will likely lead to an increase in petty crime after the lifting of lockdown measures designed to combat the spread of the virus.
The primary interstate war threat to Djibouti stems from the government's dispute with neighbouring Eritrea over sovereignty of the strategic Doumeira Mountains. Progress towards a resolution is likely to be slow during 2020 as Eritrea has been unwilling to engage in United Nations-facilitated arbitration since the UN lifted sanctions against it in November 2018. An escalation to interstate war is unlikely, with China acting as a credible constraint to safeguard major economic and military investments in Djibouti. Escalation is unlikely, but a probable pathway would be elements of the Djiboutian government supporting ethnic-Issa protests along a key trade route in landlocked Ethiopia's Afar region.
Vaccines required to enter the country
Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Djibouti. However, the government requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.
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).
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.
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.
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).
Vaccines recommended for some travelers
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).
Djibouti is located in an active seismic zone.
Transportation and hotel infrastructure is lacking.
Paved roads are rare and the majority of roads are in poor condition. In theory, landmines are no longer present in the country; however, to be on the safe side, it is advisable to not venture too far from marked roads. Travel in the interior of the country should been undertaken in a convoy of at least two vehicles.
The safety of train travel cannot be guaranteed. There is only one line linking Djibouti to Dire-Daoua in Ethiopia.
Finally, telecommunication networks are limited in the capital and practically nonexistent outside of the capital.
The climate in Djibouti is hot and very arid.
Temperatures are the highest from May to October and this “hot season” can be grueling. The months from May to September are also very wet and humid. There is, however, no distinct rainy season.
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