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Country Reports

Djibouti Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

The small republic of Djibouti (population 828,000) is located in a sensitive region of East Africa, surrounded by its fair share of troubled neighbors. Consequently, the threat of terrorism is high throughout the country, notably due to Djibouti's proximity to Somalia.

TERRORISM

Due to Djibouti's participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) since 2012, the risk of retaliatory attacks by the Somali terrorist group AL-Shabaab is significant in Djibouti. In May 2014, an attack perpetrated on La Chaumière, a restaurant in central Djibouti City regularly frequented by foreigners, left three people dead and 30 others injured. Most Western governments formally advise against all travel to zones along the borders with Somalia and Eritrea due to border dispute between the two countries that is at risk of escalating into a military conflict.

Furthermore, due to the participation of France and the United States in the international military coalition targeting the terrorist group Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, French and American nationals present in Djibouti should be particularly vigilant. Formerly a French colony, Djibouti is currently home to the largest French military base in Africa, as well as an important American base. Exercise particular caution in public places with symbolic meaning and frequented by expatriates (historic and cultural centers, religious institutions, areas around ports and airports, military installations [Djibouti or foreign], etc.). Nightclubs and other nightlife venues, especially those frequented by foreign sailors, are potential targets for terrorist attacks.

Travel to the border regions with Somalia and Eritrea is strongly advised against by some foreign governments due to unresolved border issues that can turn violent without warning.

POLITICS

Political tensions between the government and the opposition coalition have recently turned violent. In mid-December 2015, violent clashes took place in Djibouti City; a dozen died and others were injured. Political protests are frequent in the country and can rapidly turn dangerous.

Presidential elections were held on April 8, 2016. Incumbent President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh was reelected with 87 percent of the vote for a fourth consecutive term. The opposition argued the run-up to the vote was marked by severe political repression. Legislative elections will take place in 2018 and the next presidential elections will be held in 2021.

CRIME

Petty crime abounds in the eponymous capital. Remain vigilant and keep all valuable objects (e.g. cameras, jewelry) concealed. Travelers are advised to avoid Doraleh and Khor Ambado beaches in the late afternoon when there are few people around.

Visits to bars and nightclubs in the country are not advisable due to the number of brawls that frequently take place due to the presence of soldiers from a number of different countries congregating at the same locations. Never photograph military installations or personnel without their consent.

HEALTH

Malaria and dengue fever, both mosquito-borne diseases, are present throughout Djibouti. Malaria is is most common during the rainy season. Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever (DHF) is a potentially deadly complication that is characterized by high fever, the enlargement of the liver, and hemorrhaging; no vaccine is currently available. There is a risk of exposure to chikungunya in the country. To minimize the risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases, take measures to protect yourself against insect bites (insect repellents, long sleeved shirts and pants, etc.).

Diarrheal diseases are common in Djibouti, including cholera, an infectious disease caused by the Vibrio cholerae bacteria that can induce acute diarrhea. The risk of death from cholera is greatest among people with low immunity, such as malnourished children or those living with HIV. However, even among healthy adults, the disease can be fatal within a matter of hours. There is also a risk of exposure to typhoid fever in Djibouti. Typhoid fever is a bacterial disease caused by Salmonella typhi, found in food and drinking water contaminated with fecal matter. Mortality rates for typhoid fever, which hover around 10 percent for untreated cases, drop to 1 percent for individuals who receive treatment (antibiotics). A vaccine is available. To reduce the risk of contracting water-borne diseases, wash hands regularly, drink only bottled or purified water, and avoid eating raw or undercooked foods.

HIV/AIDS prevalence is sizeable: according to UNAIDS, between 2014 and 2015, 9400 people were HIV-positive Djibouti.

Travelers should also be aware that medical and hospital infrastructure is underdeveloped throughout the country. Additionally, climatic conditions can be particularly rough throughout the year (heat waves).

PIRACY

Despite the fact that the frequency of attacks has fallen due to the presence of international maritime forces, piracy is a concern along the coast due to Djibouti's location at the mouth of the Gulf of Aden. Boaters should also be vigilant in the Red Sea between Hodeida (Yemen) and the strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, along the coast south of Yemen, and along the Somali coast.

INFRASTRUCTURE

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.

LOCAL LEGISLATION

It is forbidden to take photographs of infrastructure (harbors, public buildings, bridges, etc.) and military sites; it is strongly advised to avoid taking photographs of individuals without their prior agreement.

Though the consumption of alcohol is authorized, selling and public deliverance of alcoholic beverages are forbidden throughout the whole country (hotels excluded). Public intoxication can lead to two years in jail.

Djibouti is a Muslim country. It is advised to wear appropriate clothing and to behave respectfully in public and especially at religious sites.

NATURAL RISKS

Djibouti is located in an active seismic zone.

Climate

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.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +253 Police: 17 Fire Dept.: 18 Central Police Station: 35 38 91 National Gendarmerie: 35 10 03

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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