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XYZ Consular Info: Rwanda
Rwanda - Consular Information Sheet
April 11, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Rwanda is a landlocked developing country in
central/east Africa. It is recovering from a civil war and genocide in which
as many as one million people were killed. Hotels and guesthouses are
adequate in Kigali, the capital, and in major towns, but they are limited in
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: A passport and evidence of yellow fever
immunization are required. Visas are not required for American citizens
entering Rwanda for less than 90 days. U.S. citizens planning on working in
Rwanda should apply for a work permit at the Department of Immigration as
soon as possible after arrival in Rwanda. Detailed entry information may be
obtained from the Embassy of the Republic of Rwanda, 1714 New Hampshire
Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. 20009, telephone 202-232-2882, fax
202-232-4544, Internet site: http://www.rwandaemb.org/rwanda/. Overseas,
inquiries may be made at the nearest Rwandan embassy or consulate.
Travelers who wish to travel to the neighboring Democratic Republic of the
Congo (DRC) with visas and/or entry/exit stamps from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda
or Zimbabwe may experience difficulties at the DRC airport or other ports of
entry. Some travelers with those visas or exit/entry stamps have been
detained for questioning in the DRC.
In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have
initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring
documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel
from the parent(s) or legal guardian if not present. Having such
documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: In July 1999, the Government of Rwanda reopened the
Parc National des Volcans. The Rwandan Patriotic Army (RPA) provides
security in the park against attacks by rebel groups operating from the DRC.
The RPA also provides military escorts for visitors viewing the mountain
gorillas. Visitors are not permitted to visit the park without permission
from Rwanda's Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) and are strongly
advised against visits to the park apart from organized gorilla tours. The
ORTPN has just begun programs of nature walks. Military escorts also
accompany these tours. Visitors are strongly advised to leave the park by
6:00 p.m. Due to past insurgent activity in the area, visitors should
exercise extreme caution while in the park and follow ORTPN and military
escorts' instructions closely.
Insurgent activity has been reported in southwestern Rwanda in Nyungwe
Forest. The U.S. Embassy strongly urges American citizens to avoid travel
through the Nyungwe Forest on the Butare-Cyangugu Road during the hours of
twilight and darkness. The Embassy advises against visiting the Nyungwe
Forest Park until insurgent activity has ended.
Visitors are encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy regional security office
or Consular Section for the latest security information on both parks.
(Please see section 17 on Registration/Embassy Location.)
REGIONAL TERRORISM: One of the many Hutu extremist rebel factions in the
Great Lakes region has committed, and continues to threaten, violence
against American citizens and interests. This faction was responsible for
the March 1999 kidnapping and murder of several Western tourists, including
U.S. citizens, in neighboring Uganda. Hutu rebel factions are known to
operate in northeastern DRC and surrounding areas, including sections of
Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.
CRIME INFORMATION: Pick-pocketing in crowded public places is common, as is
petty theft from cars and hotel rooms. Although violent crimes such as
carjackings, robberies, and home invasions are rarely committed against
foreigners, one should remain alert and exercise caution.
The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately to local
police and to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. The pamphlets, A Safe
Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to Sub-Saharan
Africa, provide useful information on personal
security while traveling abroad and on travel in the region in general. Both
are available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing
Office , Washington D.C. 20402, via the
Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs or http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited, and some medicines are
in short supply or unavailable. Travelers generally bring their own supplies
of prescription drugs and preventive medicines. In Kigali, Americans can go
to King Faycal, a private hospital that offers limited services. A list of
medical providers is also available at the U.S. Embassy. A missionary
hospital run by Americans is located in Kibogora, in the southwest of
Rwanda, and it has some surgical facilities.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: The Department of State strongly urges Americans to
consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to
confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency
expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom
cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental
coverage is purchased. U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide
payment for medical services outside the United States. However, many travel
agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health
care expenses incurred overseas, including emergency services such as
Travelers should be aware that evidence of and/or assurances from U.S.
insurance companies will not be accepted as settlement of medical expenses
When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider
that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to
providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may
cost well in excess of 50,000 dollars (US). Uninsured travelers who require
medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with
your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be
made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later
for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage
for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of
Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling
abroad , available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home
page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.
OTHER MEDICAL INFORMATION: Malaria is prevalent in Rwanda, and there are
periodic outbreaks of meningitis. Information on vaccinations and other
health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention's international travelers hotline at 1-877-FYI-TRIP
(1-877-394-8747); fax, 1-888-CDC-FAX (1-888-232-3299); or by visiting the
CDC's Internet home page at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S.
citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those
in the United States. The information below concerning Rwanda is provided
for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a
particular location or circumstance.
Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Excessive speed, careless driving, and the lack of basic safety equipment on
many vehicles are hazards on Rwanda's roads. Drivers frequently have
unexpected encounters with cyclists, pedestrians and livestock. Nighttime
driving is particularly hazardous and discouraged. Often, roadways are not
marked, and they lack streetlights and shoulders. While the main roads in
Rwanda are in relatively good condition, during the rainy season many side
roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles. Travelers may be
stopped at police roadblocks throughout the country, where their vehicles
and luggage may be searched. Service stations are available along main
roads. Public transportation can be dangerous due to overloading, inadequate
maintenance and careless drivers.
In Rwanda, one drives on the right-hand side. Cars entering traffic circles
have the right-of-way. Third-party insurance is required and will cover any
damages if you are involved in an accident resulting in injuries and you are
found not to have been at fault. If you are found to have caused the
accident, your driver's license can be confiscated for three months. If you
cause an accident that results in a death, you can be sentenced to three to
six months' imprisonment. Drunk drivers are jailed for 24 hours and fined
FRW 20,000(approximately $45). In the city of Kigali, you can call the
following numbers for police assistance in the event of an accident: Kigali
Center, 08311112; Nyamirambo, 08311113; Kacyiru, 08311114; Kicukiro,
08311115; Remera, 08311116. Ambulance assistance is non-existent. Please
wear your seat belt and drive with care and patience at all times.
For additional general information about road safety, including links to
foreign government sites , please see the Department of
State, Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at
http://.travel.state.gov/road_safety.html. For specific information
concerning Rwanda driving permits, vehicle inspection, road tax, and
mandatory insurance, please contact the Rwandan Office of Tourism and
National Parks, B.P. 905, Kigali, Rwanda, telephone 250-76514, fax
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service at
present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United
States and Rwanda, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not
assessed the Rwandan Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with
international aviation safety standards.
For further information, travelers may contact the Department of
Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the
FAA's Internet web site at
http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/. The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official
providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on
specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 256-4801.
COMMUNICATIONS: Telephone communication to and from Rwanda is generally
reliable. Cellular telephones and Internet connections are available in
Kigali and the large towns.
CURRENCY REGULATIONS: The Rwandan franc is freely exchangeable for hard
currencies in banks and the Bureaux de Change. Several Kigali banks can
handle wire transfers from U.S. banks, including Western Union. Credit cards
are accepted at only a few hotels in Kigali and only to settle hotel bills.
Travelers should expect to handle most expenses, including air tickets, in
cash. Travelers checks can be cashed only at commercial banks.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to
that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly
from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available
to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more
severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating
Rwandan law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned.
Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Rwanda are
strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: In 2002, Rwanda experienced the eruption of Mount
Nyiragongo which lies across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Tremors were felt throughout Rwanda, including in the capital, Kigali.
Seismic activity is unpredictable and infrequent, but American citizens
should be aware of the possibility of earthquakes. General information about
natural disaster preparedness is available via the Internet from the U.S.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and
international parental child abduction, please
refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone 1-888-407-4747.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY LOCATION: U.S. citizens who plan to travel to Rwanda
are urged to register with the U.S. Embassy and to obtain updated
information on travel and security in Rwanda. The U.S. Embassy
is located at Boulevard de La Revolution;
the mailing address is B.P. 28, Kigali, Rwanda, telephone
250-05601/05602/05603, fax 250-502128; e-mail address is
email@example.com. The Embassy's Internet web site
* * *
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated April 18, 2001 to update
the sections on Safety and Security, Regional Terrorism, Children's Issues,
and Registration/Embassy Location, and to add a section on Disaster