Niger Travel Warning

Date of publication: 21-01-2016
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of travel to Niger and specifically recommends citizens avoid travel to Niger’s border regions, including the Diffa region and particularly the Lake Chad basin area.

The entire Lake Chad region is especially vulnerable because of ongoing activities by the extremist group Boko Haram. This replaces the Travel Warning for Niger dated July 17, 2015, to update U.S. citizens on the current security situation in Niger.

U.S. citizens currently in or travelling to Niger should evaluate their personal security situation. The U.S. Embassy has very limited capability to assist U.S. citizens in remote and rural areas. You should take steps to mitigate the risk of becoming a victim of violent acts, and avoid locations routinely frequented by Westerners, such as markets, hotels, restaurants, bars, and places of worship. Violent groups have targeted these kinds of venues in the past and will likely do so again. The Embassy requires that all U.S. Embassy personnel stay only in hotels having an armed Nigerien government security presence and recommends U.S. citizens follow the specific additional security guidance on the Embassy website.        

As a result of safety and security concerns, some organizations, including foreign companies, NGOs, and private aid organizations, have temporarily suspended operations in Niger or withdrawn family members and/or staff. Check with your organization’s security office before making travel plans to Niger.

Terrorist groups have called for and executed attacks against countries that supported the intervention against terrorist groups in northern Mali, including Niger. Because of terrorist and kidnapping threats, the Embassy Travel Policy requires armed Nigerien government security escorts for U.S. government employees’ official travel north of Niamey and east of Maradi. The areas bordering Mali and Libya, and northern Niger continue to be areas in which bandits, smugglers, and terrorist organizations operate. Operations to counter Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and southeastern Niger have resulted in security degradation along the Niger-Nigeria border, primarily east of Maradi. The border is porous, and there are frequent reports of suspected terrorists and smugglers crossing into Niger.

In 2015, Boko Haram used small arms fire and suicide bombers to attack Bosso, Diffa town, and other villages in the Diffa region of Niger. On February 10, 2015, the Government of Niger declared a state of emergency in the Diffa region. A curfew has been in place in Diffa region since December, 2014. 

The terrorist organization Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) has kidnapped Europeans in the region and continues to threaten to kidnap Westerners, including U.S. citizens, in Niger. Exercise extreme caution in Niger due to the seriousness of this kidnapping threat. Although the U.S. government places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it is U.S. government policy not to make concessions to kidnappers.

In 2015, large-scale protests occurred throughout Niger, which caused extensive property damage. The return of political candidate Hama Amadou to Niger sparked another large scale protest in Niamey, which resulted in the death of at least two people. You should avoid large public gatherings, and stay indoors if you hear reports of demonstrations in your area. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational without warning. Nigerien security services may interrupt cell and social media connection before and during protests. 

The Government of Niger maintains security checkpoints in Niamey. Be especially careful around these checkpoints, as the security forces may be on a heightened state of alert. Do not drive away from, or through, a checkpoint until you receive clear permission to do so. If the instructions are unclear, request verbal confirmation before proceeding.

Outside Niamey, the potential for violent crimes increases significantly. Armed bandits target travelers on roads in all parts of the country. For U.S. government personnel, all travel outside Niamey must occur during daylight hours with a minimum of a two vehicle convoy. We recommend U.S. citizens follow a similar procedure, travelling no earlier than after sunrise and no later than one hour prior to sunset. 

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