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XYZ Consular Info: Mali

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XYZ Consular Info: Mali

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Washington, DC 20520
For recorded travel information, call 202-647-5225
Internet Address: http://travel.state.gov
For information by fax, call 202-647-3000 from your fax machine
Consular Information Sheet
May 16, 2002
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Mali is a developing western African nation with a democratic government. Facilities for tourism are limited. The capital is Bamako
ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: A passport and visa are required. All travelers must have international vaccination cards with a current yellow fever immunization. Travelers should obtain the latest information from the Embassy of the Republic of Mali, 2130 R Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20008, telephone (202) 332-2249. Internet: http://www.maliembassy- usa.org. Overseas, inquiries should be made at the nearest Malian embassy or consulate.
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 present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Banditry and carjackings have historically plagued Mali's northern regions and the Mauritanian border. There have been several carjackings, robberies, and murders in the Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou regions involving foreign tourists and Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working in Mali. While banditry is not seen as targeting U.S. citizens specifically, the rise in violent incidents has greatly increased the risk to all travelers in the region. The U.S. Embassy in Bamako urges U.S. citizens to avoid all non-essential road travel to the Tombouktou region and beyond, and to exercise extreme caution while traveling in northern Mali or to any isolated area within Mali. Flying or traveling by boat with a local carrier to Timbuktu and other northern locations is considered to be safer, as long as the traveler remains in urban areas. Such services are provided by local carriers.
U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations and maintain security awareness at all times.
CRIME: While the level of violent crime remains low, petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and simple theft, are common. Occasionally, female travelers in particular have reported being harassed in public places. There have been several incidents of carjackings, armed robberies and banditry in Bamako and in the outlying regions of Gao, Kidal and Tombouctou. Train travelers are advised to be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night. Travelers should stay alert, remain in groups and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.
The loss or theft abroad 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 protecting personal security while traveling abroad and 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 via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: Medical facilities are limited, and many medicines are unavailable. Travelers should carry with them an adequate supply of needed medicines.
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 medical evacuations.
Travelers should be aware that evidence of and/or assurances from U.S. insurance companies will not be accepted as settlement of medical expenses in Mali.
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 death.
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 HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via CDC's Internet site 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 Mali 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: Poor
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Poor
Mali has a few paved roads that are in fair condition. U.S. citizens traveling by road should exercise extreme caution. Poorly maintained, overloaded transport and cargo vehicles frequently break down and cause accidents. Undisciplined drivers render traffic movements unpredictable. Construction work is often poorly indicated. Speed bumps - commonly used on paved roads in and near villages - are seldom indicated. Nighttime driving is particularly hazardous because vehicles frequently lack headlights and/or taillights. Mali's unpaved roads vary in quality. Deep sand and/or ditches are common. During the rainy season from mid-June to mid-September, dirt roads often become impassable. Four-wheel drive vehicles with full spare tires and emergency equipment are recommended.
In Mali, one drives on the right hand side of the road. In cities, speed limits can range from 40-60 kilometers an hour (25-40 miles per hour), although road conditions often call for lower speeds. On the roads between cities, the speed limit is 100 km/hr (around 65 mph), but this is often ignored.
Inter-city travel, if not organized through a tour company, can be accomplished by public bus, taxi, and, to the western Kayes region of the country only, by train. There are paved roads to Segou, Mopti and Sikasso. However, motorized vehicles must share the road with bicycles, animal-powered vehicles, and herds of animals. Driving at night between cities is not recommended, not only because many other vehicles lack head or tail lights, but also because nighttime robbery can be a problem.
Driving conditions in the capital of Bamako can be particularly difficult and dangerous. Few traffic signals function regularly, and drivers often do not follow the rules of the road. In particular, the small, green, van-like buses called "bashees" do not pay any heed to oncoming traffic, and bashee drivers are known to changes lanes unexpectedly without looking. Please exercise extreme caution when driving in Bamako.
There are local drunk driving laws on the books, but they are seldom enforced. The same goes for laws regarding seat belts and child car seats. In case of an accident involving bodily injury, the person at fault is generally expected to pay all the medical bills to the injured. If an accident results in death, even if unavoidable or beyond the driver's control (e.g., if a child runs out in front of one's car), the police will often keep the driver in jail for several days to protect the driver against physical harm or other retribution from the victim's family. Most cases like this are eventually settled out of court.
There is no Malian equivalent of the 911 eme rgency number, and the job of transporting accident victims to the hospital is left to passers-by or the gendarmes/police if they are available. There is no service that provides roadside assistance in Mali.
The Malian authority for road safety is the Compagnie Nationale de Circulation Routiere: (223) 22-38-83
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: As there is no direct commercial air service by local carriers at present, nor economic authority to operate such service between the United States and Mali, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mali's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of Mali's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at telephone 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index/. 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 telephone 618-256-4801.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Photography is no longer restricted, except for military subjects. However, interpretation of what may be considered to be off- limits for taking photographs varies. Some subjects may be considered sensitive from a cultural or religious viewpoint. It is helpful to obtain permission before taking photographs in Mali.
CURRENCY: Currency exchange facilities are slow and often involve out- of-date rates. The U.S. Embassy cannot provide exchange facilities for private Americans. Credit cards are accepted only at major hotels, a few travel agencies and select restaurants. Cash advances on credit cards are performed by only one bank in Mali, the BMCD Bank in Bamako, and only on a "VISA" credit card.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: It is advisable to contact the Embassy of Mali in Washington, D.C. or the nearest Malian consulate for specific information regarding customs requirements. The U.S. Customs Service may impose corresponding import restrictions in accordance with the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act. For further information, please contact the Customs Service at telephone 202 927-2336 or see their Internet web site at http://exchanges.state.gov/education/culprop.
TELEPHONE SERVICE: International calls are expensive, and collect calls cannot be made from outside Bamako.
EXPORTATION OF ARTIFACTS: Mali is signatory to the Treaty on Cultural Property that restricts exportation of certain Malian archeological objects, in particular those from the Niger River Valley. Visitors seeking to export any such property are required by Malian law to obtain an export authorization from the National Museum in Bamako.
CRIME 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 Malian law, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mali are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to the Department of State's Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's issues_html or telephone (202) 736- 7000.
EMBASSY LOCATION/REGISTRATION: U.S. citizens living in or visiting Mali are encouraged to register with the U.S. Embassy in Bamako at the intersection of Rue Rochester NY and Rue Mohamed V, and to obtain updated information on travel and security in Mali. The Embassy's mailing address is B.P. 34, Bamako, Mali. The telephone number is (223)22-38-33. The fax number is (223)22-37-12. Internet: http://www.usa.org.ml.
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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated October 3, 2000 to update the sections on Entry Requirements, Safety and Security, Medical Insurance, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions, and Aviation Safety Oversight.