Is it safe to travel to Senegal?

Travel Alert Status

Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Safety and Security:

Public demonstrations, political gatherings, and student protests are relatively common in Senegal, both in Dakar and in outlying regions, particularly on Friday afternoons. In the past, these events have sometimes turned violent. Due to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid political gatherings and street demonstrations, and maintain security awareness at all times.

The threat of terrorism in Senegal has increased due to the conflict in Mali. It should be noted that Senegal shares porous borders in the north and east with both Mauritania and Mali. Terrorist attacks involving members of Al-Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) have occurred in Mauritania and Mali in recent years. In February 2013, AQIM made a public statement indicating that it regards Senegal as a hostile country for contributing to the African-led International Support Mission in Mali (AFISMA). Thus far, Senegal has been spared any direct terrorist attacks, but does remain vulnerable due to porous borders, increased regional instability, and the increased terror activities of AQIM. In December 2010, two members of AQIM were confronted along the border with Senegal as they were attempting to flee Mauritania and one member detonated his suicide vest prior to capture. U.S. citizens planning to visit the border regions of Senegal are encouraged to exercise additional caution and to maintain situational awareness at all times. Travelers planning overland trips to Mauritania or Mali should register with the respective Embassies and monitor the current security developments to appropriately assess the risks of the regional travel.

Lac Rose (Pink Lake) is a popular tourist destination in Senegal. The Lac Rose area has a large number of tourists and isolated beach areas, but lacks multiple exit and entry points. The U.S. Embassy recommends that all visitors to Lac Rose and its surrounding beaches be particularly vigilant and do not travel alone.

Banditry occurs with some regularity on the main highways after dark, particularly in the central and eastern area of Senegal, including around Tambacounda and Matam. Bandits often target RN2 (National Road) between Ndioum and Kidira and occasionally target RN1 between Kidira and Tambacounda.

The U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens avoid non-essential travel to the Casamance region west of the city of Kolda, except direct air or sea travel to the Cap Skirring resort area or to the city of Ziguinchor. If travel is deemed essential, the U.S. Embassy recommends that U.S. citizens carefully monitor the security situation before traveling. If travel by road is essential, the U.S. Embassy recommends that it be done during daylight hours only and, if possible, in convoy.

Violent clashes in the region between government forces and alleged members of the Movement of the Democratic Forces of the Casamance (MFDC) diminished following Presidential elections in March 2012, and the government and MFDC are in talks to bring a peaceful end to the Casamance conflict. In the past, MFDC rebels targeted military installations, convoys, and personnel in an attempt to destabilize the region. Civilians living and traveling in the Casamance are often targets of opportunity for the rebels and bandits that support the group. The indiscriminate violence serves to perpetuate fear within the region.

Landmine explosions continue to plague inhabitants of the Casamance. Several civilians and soldiers have been killed or injured by landmines during the past twelve months. Since 1990, more than 1,000 people have been killed by land mines in the Casamance. The U.S. Embassy strongly recommends that U.S. citizens remain on well-traveled routes at all times.

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