Burkina Faso

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 06 February 2014.   It contains new information under Civil unrest/political tensions (you should avoid any political protests that occur in Burkina Faso). The overall level of advice for Burkina Faso has decreased. We now advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Burkina Faso overall because of the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and violent crime. We continue to advise against all travel to the region north of the line connecting Djibo and Dori in northern Burkina Faso due to the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping.

Burkina Faso overall

All areas north of a line connecting Djibo and Dori

Summary

  • We advise you exercise a high degree of caution in Burkina Faso overall because of the threat of terrorist attack, kidnapping and violent crime.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • Following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013 there is a threat of retaliatory attacks against Western targets in Burkina Faso.
  • We strongly advise you not to travel to all areas north of a line connecting Djibo and Dori due to the high threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping targeting foreign nationals. The government of Burkina Faso has warned that terrorist and criminal groups continue to express a desire to attempt to kidnap Westerners in the areas bordering Mali and Niger. See the Terrorism section below for more information.
  • Protests and political demonstrations continue to occur. You should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.
  • Armed bandits operate throughout Burkina Faso. You should avoid travelling alone or after dark. See Crime section below for more information.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burkina Faso. The local Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou provides consular assistance to Australians in Burkina Faso (except the issue of passports). The Australian High Commission in Ghana can also provide assistance to Australians.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
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Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Burkina Faso for the most up to date information.

The exportation of objects of art (old or traditional artists' works and all old material of the national cultural patrimony) must be approved by the Ministry of Culture.

A valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required for entry into Burkina Faso.

Burkina Faso is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that all travellers be vaccinated for yellow fever before travelling to Burkina Faso (see Health section).

As the quarantine requirements for yellow fever vaccination differ between countries, we recommend that you check the yellow fever entry requirements for all countries you intend to enter or transit by contacting their foreign missions in Australia. Some airlines may require passengers to present a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate before being allowed to board flights out of the country. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

Safety and security

Terrorism

We advise you exercise a high degree of caution in Burkina Faso overall because of the threat of terrorist attack and kidnapping.

You should monitor the local and international media for information affecting your safety and security.

Following the French intervention in the conflict in Mali in January 2013 there is a threat of retaliatory attacks against Western targets across the region, including in Burkina Faso.

A heightened threat of kidnapping exists in northern Burkina Faso: We strongly advise you not to travel to all areas north of a line running between Djibo and Dori in northern Burkina Faso due to the high threat of terrorist attack and the threat of kidnapping targeting foreign nationals.

If you decide to travel to these areas, you should be aware that the Australian Government has a limited capacity to provide you with consular assistance.

While the situation across the border in Mali has improved since presidential elections in July-August 2013, the threat of kidnapping by groups based in the region persists in northern Burkina Faso. Al-Qa'ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which has formally identified foreigners as a legitimate target for terrorism and kidnapping operations, has claimed responsibility for a number of attacks in the region since 2006. AQIM has taken a number of hostages from remote areas in neighbouring countries. A number remain in captivity.

Australians in northern Burkina Faso should have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance: The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. If you do decide to travel to an area where there is a particular threat of kidnapping, you should ensure you have personal security measures in place, seek professional security advice and take out kidnapping insurance.

For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat bulletin.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/political tension

Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Protests and political demonstrations continue to occur in Burkina Faso. You should avoid all demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.

Crime

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Burkina Faso overall because of the risk of violent crime. Assaults and thefts are common, particularly in Bobo Dioulasso and the capital, Ouagadougou. Muggings often occur around the central market and the United Nations traffic circle in Ouagadougou. Thefts are sometimes committed by one or two individuals on a motorbike. You should remain vigilant in crowded areas and ensure that your personal belongings are secure at all times. Security risks increase after dark. You should avoid travelling alone or after dark.

Armed bandits operate across the country and have attacked vehicles, including buses, on roads connecting major cities within Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries. Bandits have used roadblocks to stop vehicles. These attacks occur mostly at night but have also occurred during the day. If travelling by car outside of urban areas we recommend that you travel in convoy.

Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in West African countries. Victims have been defrauded and those who travel to the originating country have had their lives endangered. Some victims have been killed. Criminals have been known to seek details of 'safe' bank accounts overseas to which to transfer large sums of money (as a donation or for a percentage of the amount involved). They may also provide fake cashier cheques for 'urgent' shipments of large quantities of goods, request sizeable fees for a fake government contract and extort money from individuals they have convinced to travel to Africa for a business opportunity. If you are a victim of a financial scam, we advise you to obtain legal advice and not to travel to Africa to seek restitution as there is a risk of physical assault from the perpetrators. Our information on international financial scams provides more detail on these types of scams.

Bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes are operating from some African countries. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating schemes or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, the Australian citizen may be asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. In some cases the relationship is terminated with very little chance that any funds can be recovered. In other cases, foreigners may be lured to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner and can become victims of crime including kidnapping, assault and robbery.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work in Burkina Faso.

Make two photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Driving in Burkina Faso can be hazardous as most roads are in poor condition and have insufficient lighting. Travelling by road outside Ouagadougou at night can be dangerous. Vehicles do not always use or have headlights. Many vehicles may be in poor mechanical condition. You should not leave marked roads or tracks and should carry sufficient drinking water for the arid conditions. For further advice on road safety, see our road travel page.

You should always carry a legally certified copy of your passport's identification page. The Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou (see below) provides a legal certification service.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Burkina Faso, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Serious crimes, such as murder and treason, may attract the death penalty.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Burkina Faso, but the local community is generally intolerant of same-sex relationships. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Photography around military zones, military assets and/or military personnel is prohibited.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

There are conservative standards of dress and behaviour in Burkina Faso and you should take care not to offend.

Information for dual nationals

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities and emergency hospital care are very limited, particularly in areas outside Ouagadougou. Doctors and hospitals often expect immediate cash payment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with the appropriate facilities would be necessary. Costs for a medical evacuation could exceed $A100,000.

Malaria and other tropical diseases are common in West African countries, including Burkina Faso. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, light coloured, loose-fitting clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.

Burkina Faso is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. We strongly recommend that you are vaccinated against yellow fever before travelling to Burkina Faso. See the Entry and Exit section for important information about vaccination certificate requirements. For more information about yellow fever, see the Department of Health website.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, yellow fever, hepatitis, bilharzia, tuberculosis, meningitis and measles) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Burkina Faso. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the local Canadian Embassy provides consular assistance to Australians in Burkina Faso. You should register your presence with the Canadian Government. This service does not include the issue of Australian passports. The address is:

Canadian Embassy
316 Professeur Ki-Zerbo Street
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Telephone: (226) 50 311 894
Facsimile: (226) 50 311 900
Email: ouaga@international.gc.ca
Website: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/burkinafaso/

For emergency assistance after hours, call the Canadian Embassy in Ouagadougou and follow the instructions.

You can also obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission which is in Ghana:

Australian High Commission
2, Second Rangoon Close
(cnr Josef Broz Tito Ave)
Cantonments
Accra, GHANA
Telephone: +233 302 216 400
Facsimile: +233 302 216 410
Email: AccraHC.Enquiries@dfat.gov.au
Website: www.ghana.highcommission.gov.au

If you are travelling to Burkina Faso, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the above mission, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Flooding may occur in the wet season which extends from June to October. Roads may be impassable as result of flooding. Information on natural disasters can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.