Suriname Country Report
Dési Bouterse, Suriname's president since 2010, previously led two coups and ruled as a military dictator from 1980–87. A verdict in his trial by a military court for the alleged murder of 15 opposition activists in 1982 is expected in first half of 2019, for which he has accepted political responsibility but not personal involvement. The incumbent secured a second term in office after his National Democratic Party (Nationale Democratische Partij: NDP) won elections in May 2015, gaining a majority for the first time since democracy was restored. There is occasional civil unrest against the government's implementation of austerity measures to address falling government revenues resulting from low commodity prices.
The operational environment is unlikely to improve substantially in the next year. The main frustrations relate to bureaucratic delays, although there has been progress to speed up applications for obtaining operating licenses. In recent years several political leaders have been implicated in corruption scandals; President Dési Bouterse and his son Dino have separately been convicted for drug trafficking abroad, which they deny. Labour unrest is not a regular threat to the private sector although the mining industry is affected occasionally. Fissures in the union movement mean strikes and protests are likely to rise in the next year, chiefly affecting the public sector, primarily transport, education, and healthcare.
Terrorism risks are likely to remain low in 2019. Two Dutch-Surinamese were arrested in July 2017 accused of plotting an attack on the American embassy in Paramaribo. Their trial continues and no evidence has emerged of a wider threat. The Jungle Commando, a rebel group active in the 1980–90s, has disbanded and its former leader, Ronnie Brunswijk, has become an opposition politician. Drug traffickers operate in Suriname, using the country as a waypoint between Colombia and Europe. Drug-related violence is limited and unlikely to involve terrorist acts against civilians or the state within the one-year outlook.
The risk of civil interstate war in Suriname is low for the next six months, despite unresolved border disputes with French Guiana and Guyana. The capacity of the Guyanese and Surinamese armed forces is minimal. Security issues with French Guiana are mainly limited to the presence of Surinamese illegal miners in the French territory. The risk of a return to civil war is low. Illegal miners in the interior of the country pose the greatest threat to the country's security forces.
The risk of protests is declining but likely to remain elevated in 2018 and 2019. In April 2017, around 10,000 people participated in peaceful protests over austerity measures, in which the involvement of trade unions and civil servants increased disruption levels. However, protests have been less intense in 2018 despite ongoing austerity measures. Demands for access to land and employment are likely to provoke occasional protests involving roadblocks in the mining sector, although a deal between IamGold and local small-scale miners in November 2017 means the risk of roadblocks near the IamGold concession has diminished substantially.
Vaccines required to enter the country
Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for travelers arriving from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission. 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).
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).
Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is generally recommended for travelers over nine months of age.
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).
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.
Travelers should note that the country's two rainy seasons occur from May to August and from November to February, during which the risk of flooding is high, particularly in the north and center of the country, including in the capital. Surinamese officials are poorly equipped to deal with flood-related emergencies and therefore nonessential travel to the interior of the country is not recommended during those periods. Heavy rains can also disrupt telecommunications.
Transportation (road) infrastructure remains largely underdeveloped throughout the country and road accident rates are high. In the event of a car accident, drivers by law must remain with their cars (unmoved) until the police arrive. This can result in major traffic congestion.
For safety reasons, public transportation (e.g. minibuses) should be avoided, particularly outside the capital. In cities it is best to use licensed taxi companies.
Suriname's Blue Wing Airlines has been banned from operating in European Union airspace due to poor safety standards. Concerns regarding the safety standards of the airline INSEL Air, which is based out of Curacao and serves Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport (PBM), have also been raised.
Suriname has a humid tropical climate. There are two rainy seasons: the short rainy season lasts from November until February and the long rainy season from April until August. It is generally hotter and more humid inland than along the coast. Temperatures are constant throughout the year.
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