Safety and Security
The Department of State’s Security Environmental Threat List Report has designated the DRC as a Critical Crime and High Political Violence Post. The security situation in many parts of the country remains fluid and problematic, including in Kinshasa. Visitors are encouraged to review the current Department of State Travel Warning for the DRC for additional details. Poor economic conditions, high unemployment, and low pay that is often in arrears for the military and police contribute to criminal activity in Kinshasa and throughout the country. Visitors are urged to remain vigilant at all times.
Both inside and outside Kinshasa, security forces are known to set up occasional, spontaneous roadblocks, especially after dark. Vehicles are often searched for weapons and valuables, and passengers are checked for identity papers. Security forces regularly seek bribes. If confronted with such a situation, it is best to remain courteous and calm and remain inside your vehicle with doors locked. If detained, report the incident to the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa as soon as possible.
The United Nations’ largest peacekeeping operation in the world operates in the DRC. Known by its French acronym of MONUSCO, it has nearly 18,000 peacekeepers deployed in the country, primarily in the east. Violence, nevertheless, persists in the eastern DRC due to the presence of numerous militias and armed groups, with sporadic outbreaks occurring in North Kivu, South Kivu, and northern Katanga provinces, as well as in the Ituri, Bas-Uele, and Haut-Uele Districts of Orientale province, and less frequently in Bas-Congo and Equateur provinces. Military actions against the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in Haut Uele District have reduced the group’s presence but elements of the LRA are still active in this area and especially areas on the border with the Central African Republic and South Sudan. The DRC military has conducted a series of operations against the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda since January 2009. In April 2012, members of a former rebel group that had previously been integrated into the Congolese military mutinied resulting in heavy fighting in Masisi and Rutshuru territories as well as in Virunga National Park. In November 2012, these mutineers, known as M23, captured Goma, the capital of the province of North Kivu. Although they later withdrew from the city, they still occupy large portions of North Kivu and maintain a presence just kilometers from Goma. As a result, the number of internally displaced persons has risen to 1.7 million. Moreover, renewed violence among foreign and Congolese rebel groups present in the northern part of North Kivu and former Rwandan militants in the southern part of the province and throughout South Kivu pose a serious and significant risk to travelers in the region. This fighting underscores the persistent insecurity arising from the activities of rebel and other armed groups operating in the Kivus, which contribute to the overall high risks and dangers associated with travel to eastern Congo. The Department strongly recommends against all travel to the city of Goma and the province of North Kivu, and all but essential travel to the province of South Kivu and the Ituri region in the province of Oriental.
The security situation in the DRC remains unstable and difficult to predict. All travel by Embassy personnel outside of Kinshasa must be vetted by Embassy security staff for approval. Criteria considered in vetting such areas include, but are not limited to, political violence, criminal and violent activity, and the presence of armed or rebel groups. Travelers should take into consideration the above factors when making travel arrangements for the DRC.