Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Demonstrations in the DRC

There are reports of continued presence of security forces to deter protests in several neighborhoods of Kinshasa today. There have been no reported protests in Commune Gombe so far today. Ndjili International Airport remains open and international flights reportedly plan to arrive/depart tonight. Currently, the main road leading to the airport is also open.

Today, U.S. Embassy Kinshasa is requiring only “essential” personnel to report to work, and that is the current plan for tomorrow, Friday January 23 as well. TASOK (the American School of Kinshasa) is closed today and will remain closed tomorrow.

SMS (text) messaging remains non-operative, as well as most internet. There have been some reports of some users’ internet beginning to work early today. Most bank ATMs are not working, and Post has received reports that some money transfer companies are unable to process international wire transfers at this time.

In eastern Congo, there are reports of clashes between security forces and the large crowds who have gathered around the University area in Goma. In Bukavu, civil society has called for a “ville morte”- asking people not to go to work or frequent businesses, and there are reports of planned political marches during the day there.

Please exercise extreme caution when moving around today, and limit non-essential trips. If you need to leave home, the morning hours might be a better time to do so. The Congolese Senate is expected to vote on the election reform law Thursday afternoon, which MAY lead to protest activity as well as a heightened presence of security forces.

We strongly recommend U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at www.Travel.State.Gov.  STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency.  If you do not have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State  Department’s website, where you can find current travel warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. Read the Country Specific Information for the DRC.  For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions.  You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries.  These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, tel. +243-081-556-0151 (Do not dial the zero when calling from abroad).  The Consular Section of the Embassy may be reached at tel. +243-097-261-6144 or +243-097-261-6145  and is open Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. and Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For after-hours emergencies, U.S. citizens should call 081-556-0151 and ask to speak with the duty officer.