This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Niamey,
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Niger at Level 3, indicating travelers should
reconsider travel to the country due to crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Embassy in Niamey
does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the
persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS)
Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no
responsibility for the quality of service provided.
Review OSAC’s Niger-specific webpage for original OSAC reporting, consular
messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to
private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
There is considerable risk from crime in Niamey. Crime
occurs at all hours in Niger. Non-violent crimes (e.g. pickpocketing, purse
snatching, and backpack/cell phone theft) are present in major cities, notably
in/around places where Westerners gather. Within Niamey, avoid the Night Market;
criminals loiter in the area, which is notorious for pickpocketing, purse
snatching, mugging, and assaults. Other markets, the area around the Gaweye and
Grand Hotels, the National Museum, and Kennedy Bridge are also high-risk areas.
Violent crimes (e.g.
muggings, assaults) are not as common as non-violent crimes, and typically occur
after dark. Assailants may be aggressive and display a weapon during a robbery;
knives are the most frequently employed weapon, as some Nigeriens carry knives
or machetes as part of their normal dress.
Vehicle thefts are
prevalent in Niamey; however, incidents have decreased since the 2016 arrests
of a Nigerien/Nigerian theft ring. Most carjackings reported to police occur
along Niger’s southern border.
There has been an
overall decrease in residential robbery in Niamey. Home invasions and
residential robberies occur primarily after dark and can be violent. There have
been several incidents in which assailants attacked residential guards or
occupants. Although thieves typically choose to rob homes that have no visible
residential security measures, these measures have not stopped robbers in some
cases, including those targeting diplomat and NGO residences. In addition,
there have been numerous reports of commercial and NGO office robberies.
Due to the lack of
cyber infrastructure and the relatively low rate of internet penetration, the
prevalence of cybercrime is thought to be low. However, information on
cybercrime trends in Niger may be lacking due to the limited abilities of
Niger’s security forces and law enforcement officials to track, investigate,
and prevent cybercrime.
Other Areas of
between West and North Africa, vast open deserts, and lengthy porous borders
make it a transit point for terrorists, criminals, migrants, weapons,
contraband, and illegal drugs. Loosely organized criminal elements operate in
Niger. The country has long been a transit route for smugglers. In northern
Niger, within the Sahara Desert, the seminomadic, pastoral Tuareg ethnic group
has long facilitated cross-border licit and illicit trade, including the
smuggling of contraband (e.g. weapons, illegal drugs, fuel, vehicles, humans,
cigarettes). Along the border with Nigeria, criminal elements smuggle
everything from fuel to rice to automobiles. Smuggling is often done via
caravans of trucks through the desert. The 2011 war in Libya prompted a rise in
smuggling activity in Niger, and there have been clashes between smugglers and
security forces. Smuggling activities have increased since 2016, as the
government of Niger has cracked down on migrant transportation, which used to
play an important role in the economy of central and northern Niger. The
criminalization of migrant transport has driven the business underground,
encouraging more violent practitioners willing and able to take greater risks
and feeding the traffic of drugs and weapons.
Niger is confronting
a number of major security threats, including increasing criminal and terrorist
activity in the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions, which border Mali and Burkina Faso; spillover terrorist activity in the
Diffa region from Nigeria due to Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa
(ISIS-WA); threats from ISIS elements from Libya; and growing regional
instability in the Sahel. In addition, the Agadez region is a major corridor
for the illicit trafficking of goods, weapons, and people between Europe, North
Africa, and West Africa; criminal elements, armed groups, and terrorists
operate in this area.
The Government of
Niger has regularly renewed the State of Emergency declaration first made in
2015 in the Diffa region, and in 2017, extended the State of Emergency to seven
provinces in the Tillabéri and Tahoua regions due to attacks emanating from
Mali. A government statement noted it would enforce a state of emergency in the
districts of Ouallam, Ayorou, Bankilare, Abala and Banibangou in Tillabéri, and
in Tassara and Tillia districts of Tahoua. The decision followed a spate of
deadly attacks that killed 16 soldiers in Ouallam and an attack that killed
five gendarmes in Wanzarbe, Bankilare district. The State of Emergency grants
security forces special powers, including the right to search homes.
The U.S. Government
has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in remote
and rural areas, as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization
to travel outside Niamey due to security concerns. Outside of Niamey, all U.S.
Embassy personnel may travel only during daylight hours in a minimum
two-vehicle convoy accompanied by armed Nigerien government security escorts.
do reserve the right to restrict travel based on the security situation along
any intended route. The security climate in Niger can change quickly, and
Nigerien authorities may decide to take additional security measures.
Following the murder
of a French tourist in Agadez in 2005, the Nigerien government began requiring
NGOs to register and inform the government of each trip they plan to take. To
avoid detention and/or expulsion by authorities, NGO workers should abide by
the following standard operating procedures:
sure that your NGO has received official recognition from the government. Visit
the Managing Office of Decentralized Cooperation and Non-Governmental
Organizations (Direction de la Coopération Décentralisée et des Organisations
Non Governementales) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
(Ministère des Affaires Étrangères et de la Coopération).
your international NGO sponsor is without a permanent presence in Niger, verify
that your NGO has informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation at
least two weeks prior to the start of a mission. This notice should be in
writing and should include the purpose of the mission, the dates of the
mission, where the mission will take place, and the types and license plate
numbers of the vehicles involved. Copy the Interior Ministry on this notice.
your NGO is headquartered in Niger, verify that your group has informed the
Ministry of Planning, Land Management, and Community Development (Ministère du
Plan, de l’Aménagement du Territoire et du Développement Communautaire) at
least two weeks prior to the start of a mission. This notice must be in writing
and include the purpose of the mission, the names of the individuals who will
be working for the NGO on the mission, the dates of the mission, where the
mission will take place, and the types and license plate numbers of the
vehicles involved. Copy the Interior Ministry on this notice. Ask for a receipt
of any notification provided to a Ministry.
a copy of the official recognition (Arrêté) of the right of your NGO to operate
to beginning a mission in Niger, NGO workers should present themselves at the
regional governor’s office. NGO workers should ask for a receipt of the
documents they present to the governor (or highest-ranking official available).
Provide the governor with the same written notification you provided to the
are free to take pictures anywhere in Niger, except near military
installations, radio and television stations, the Presidential Palace,
airports, or diplomatic facilities. Tourists should not photograph military or
police personnel, or political or student demonstrations, and should seek prior
permission before taking a close-up “portrait” photo of an individual. For more
information, review OSAC’s report, Picture
This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
Transportation Safety Situation
For more information, review OSAC’s report, Security in Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
Road Safety and Road
Road conditions in
major cities are hazardous. While there are some paved roads in Niamey, most
residential streets are dirt or sand. Niamey has a number of roundabouts, which
are often sources of congestion; different traffic circles have different rules
of priority, which contribute to the high incidence of traffic accidents.
Drivers can be aggressive and often disregard the rules of the road.
the roads in Niamey. Motorcycle accidents occur frequently; many result in
fatalities. The large number of motorcycles, bicycles, vendor carts,
broken-down vehicles, beggars, and pedestrians on the streets makes driving a
challenge. In addition, livestock (e.g. camels, cattle, goats) wander in the
Traffic police are
present at large intersections, and conduct law enforcement checks at numerous
points. Police are generally professional, but some traffic officers attempt to
extort money from drivers. All tollbooths (péages) at city limits on major roads are
official and should be respected. A driver will receive a receipt of toll
payment; maintain your receipt for the return trip on the same road. Despite the overt presence of traffic police, there are frequent
hazards that pose a risk for motorist safety.
Do not use headlights
during the day; except in emergencies, only police and military vehicles are
allowed to do so. Do not use horns after dark. Pull over for official
motorcades or military convoys with headlights on, public emergency vehicles
with sirens on, and funeral processions.
minor damage generally only require an exchange of insurance information.
However, accidents involving more serious damage or injuries, or where there is
any dispute over insurance or who is at fault, will require police involvement.
In any accident where the police are involved, vehicles should not be moved
before the police arrive.
linking Niamey to neighboring countries are focal points for smuggling and
other criminal activities, including carjacking and armed banditry. Daytime
highway robberies have occurred, but are much less frequent than nighttime
criminality. There have been incidents of carjacking on the main east-west road
(Highway N1) along the Nigerian border. Most incidents of banditry involve the
use of firearms; assailants are not afraid to use violence when victims show
resistance. Most attacks occur at dusk, after dark, or in the very early
Foreigners traveling beyond Niamey’s city limits
must carry their car registration and personal identification documents. Carry
first-aid supplies, a local cellular or satellite phone, water, and a monitored
personal tracking locator (if possible) in all vehicles.
For more information
see OSAC’s reports on Driving Overseas: Best Practices and Road Safety in Africa.
Avoid taxis. Taxis use
is prohibited for all U.S. Embassy personnel. Taxis pose multiple hazards. Taxi
drivers are notorious for driving erratically and may stop quickly to pick up
passengers. The government does not regulate or vet taxis. Vehicles are
under-maintained, do not meet Western safety standards, and are prone to
“bush-taxis” are available at negotiable fares, but these vehicles are
generally older, unsafe models that are overloaded, poorly maintained, and
driven by reckless operators seeking to save time and money.
national bus company (SNTV) operates coaches on intercity routes and, since
being reorganized in 2001, has provided reliable service and experienced no
major accidents. Air Transport, Rimbo, and Garba Messagé are private bus
companies operating in Niger. Concerns exist regarding the youth of drivers and
the speed with which private buses travel.
is not a recommended form of transportation.
Nigerien security forces have taken foreign individuals who are
attempting to hitchhike through rural areas into protective custody.
The National Police
and Gendarmerie carry out security at Niger’s Diori Hamani International
Airport (NIM), using X-rays and metal detectors. Travelers must have a valid
Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
considerable risk from terrorism in Niamey. Terrorist groups continue plotting
kidnappings and possible attacks in Niger. Terrorists may attack with little/no
warning, targeting foreign and local government facilities and areas Westerners
frequent. Externally-based extremist groups have crossed
the border and carried out multiple lethal attacks on Nigerien security forces.
Niger has experienced terrorism, mainly in the form of
kidnapping-for-ransom (KFR) and clashes between security forces and extremist
militants. The country faces threats from Mali-based terrorist groups, which
include regional affiliates of al-Qa’ida and ISIS, as well as Nigeria-based
terrorist groups, such as Boko Haram and ISIS West Africa Province (ISIS-WA).
These groups include some Nigerien nationals. Mali-based terrorist groups in
particular have increasingly targeted local, regional, and international
security forces in Mali and neighboring countries. Since 2015, al-Qa’ida
affiliates based in Mali have conducted or been implicated in attacks in major
Sahel cities against locations foreigners frequent, including soft and hard
Niamey has not experienced a terrorist attack since 2011,
when terrorists kidnapped from a restaurant and subsequently killed two French
citizens; however, it remains a potential target. Mali-based terrorist groups
have shown a propensity for retaliating against countries that participate in
regional counterterrorism efforts and/or support U.S. and French military
presence in the region. Niger is home to a French surveillance base, and a U.S.
drone base is under construction in Agadez. In addition, Niger
participates in the G5 Sahel Force, a newly-formed France-supported counterterrorism
force composed of troops from five regional governments. The G5 Sahel force
launched its first operation in late 2017, focusing on the tri-border area of
Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger.
Terrorist groups have carried out a number of notable attacks in
attacks throughout 2018 in Niger’s western regions of Tillabéri
burned in the village of Bossey Bangou near the Burkina Faso border in September 2018.
of an Italian Priest from the village of Kogel Beli near the Burkina Faso
border in December 2018.
on a Nigerien Army unit near Tongo
Tongo, in which
29 soldiers were killed in May 2019.
attack on the on the Koutoukalé high-security prison in May 2019 involving
a large vehicle-borne improvised explosive device. The attack failed to free militants
housed in the prison, but it illustrated
the sophistication and organization of terrorist groups
operating within and outside of the country.
attacks in Diffa, to include suicide bombings in June 2018 and April 2019.
Escalations in terrorist activity in Niger’s Tillabéri and Tahoua
regions prompted the government to declare a State of Emergency in large parts
of these regions.
Two Nigerian-based terrorist groups, Boko Haram and ISIS-WA,
continue to menace Niger’s southwestern Diffa region, resulting in some of the
most deadly attacks on Niger’s soil. Boko Haram is from northern Nigeria, where
the population – mostly Hausa and Kanuri – is essentially identical to that on
the Nigerien side of the border. Boko Haram has attacked government forces and
targeted/killed civilians in Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria. Boko Haram has
kidnapped and killed foreigners, publicly threatens to continue to do so, and has often highlighted
Christian organizations as a target. Niger, whose population is majority Hausa, has experienced
open conflict with Boko Haram in the south (specifically the Diffa region),
where authorities have arrested and killed Boko Haram members. Since 2015, Boko
Haram has expanded its presence in Niger and carried out several attacks in the
Diffa region, including improvised explosive devices and suicide bombings.
Diffa hosts over 300,000 displaced persons, including Nigerian refugees and
internally displaced Nigeriens.
The Government of Niger began to discuss demilitarization,
demobilization, and reintegration (DDR) programming in 2016, and continues to
work on a viable reintegration plan for former Boko Haram combatants, as
defectors have begun to turn themselves in to authorities in Diffa.
There is little anti-U.S. sentiment among the general
population. Due to a French colonial history, anti-France sentiment sometimes
comes to the surface. In 2013, two French citizens were beaten and briefly
taken hostage by residents of the Goudel neighborhood (approximately 1 km from
the Embassy). This incident occurred after Goudel residents had warned that
foreigners were not welcome in the neighborhood in the context of protests
against road barriers emplaced by the government in response to heightened terrorist
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
considerable risk from civil unrest in Niamey. Niger most recently
in 2010, which
removed President Tandja from power. In 2011, a democratically-elected
government was installed, prompting the U.S. to restore full bilateral
cooperation. In 2016, President Issoufou was re-elected for a second five-year
periodic violent demonstrations. Large and small street demonstrations occur
regularly, often near government buildings, university campuses, or other
gathering places (such as public parks), or blocking the main bridge over the
Niger River. Some demonstrations have involved rock
throwing, tire burning, and setting cars on fire, especially at key
intersections in Niamey. There have been occasional reports of rock-throwing
demonstrators targeting NGO and diplomatic vehicles, but none in recent years. Student
marches frequently protest various education-related issues. Trade and service
unions and other associations often protest for better wages and working
Christians and Muslims are predominantly peaceful in Niger. However, episodic
violent protests have occurred in Maradi in which demonstrators set fire to
churches, burn tires, and erect roadblocks. In response to such religious
violence – which remains an unusual occurrence in Niger – government officials
have resolved the unrest and multiple religious leaders made statements and
implemented initiatives to restore interfaith solidarity.
Extreme heat is a
serious environmental hazard. Temperatures can surpass 115 degrees Fahrenheit
during the hot season (March-June).
During the rainy
season (July-September), flash flooding can occur without warning. During the
2017 rainy season, flash flooding claimed more than 40 lives and destroyed
buildings and roads throughout the country.
Local culture and
Islamic tradition encourage conservative dress for both men and women. There
have been incidents of groups of men assaulting women who appear to be African
and who are wearing clothing other than traditional garments.
Mutilation (FGM) in Niger is punished by a fine and a jail sentence. Between
1998 and 2006 the practice of FGM on girls aged 15 to 49 was reduced by 50% (5%
to 2.2%) although ethnic and regional disparities remain, with a pocket of the
most intense FGM practice persisting in far Western Niger. Forced marriage or
marriage without the consent of one or both parties still happens in Niger, and
victims are often minor 15-18 year old girls. Women have limited access to
education and employment (less than 15% of women can read.)
There is strong
societal stigma against same-sex sexual activity in Niger, but no laws criminalizing
consensual same-sex sexual activity in general. The law states, however, that
an “unnatural act” with a person of the same sex who is under 21 is punishable
by six months to three years in prison and a fine of between 9,000 and 90,000
mandates that the state provide for persons with physical and mental
disabilities, but there are no specific regulations mandating accessibility to
buildings, transportation, and communication for those with special needs.
There is extremely limited accessibility to public transportation, road
crossings, taxis, restaurants, cafes, bars, and other tourist spots.
Smuggling of narcotics
and other items from Mali through Niger to Libya and from Nigeria is prevalent.
occur in Niger. The threat to Westerners remains high. A U.S. citizen was
kidnapped from the Mali border area in 2016; two foreigners were kidnapped in 2018. There is a persistent threat of kidnapping
of Westerners in Diffa and
Tillabéri regions; some
NGOs have scaled back operations and are reviewing travel/movement of Western
personnel more carefully in this area.
Although the U.S. government
places the highest priority on the safe recovery of kidnapped U.S. citizens, it
is U.S. policy not to make concessions to kidnappers. Consequently, the type of
assistance that the U.S. Government can provide to kidnap victims is limited,
as is host nation capacity to support a rescue operation.
For more information,
review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
The police sometimes
lack the resources (e.g. vehicles, fuel) to respond immediately to calls for
How to Handle
Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
U.S. citizens who
experience police harassment or detention should immediately notify the U.S.
Embassy Consular Section and ask to speak with the American Citizen Services;
outside working hours, call the Duty Officer at (+227) 94-49-90-66.
U.S. citizens who
have been victims of crime should immediately contact the local police and then
the U.S. Embassy. Local police can be reached at 17. If the police are unable
to respond, U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy, or if after hours,
call Marine Post One at 99-49-90-33.
The Police Nationale
is the main law enforcement force for cities and villages, and falls under the Interior
Ministry (MOI). Officers typically wear black berets.
The Garde Nationale
falls under the MOI, and is charged with guarding prisons and government
buildings. While dressed like soldiers but typically with red berets, Garde
members have civilian arrest authority, can conduct checkpoints, and can be
called on to quell civil disturbances.
falls under the Ministry of Defense and also has civilian arrest authority. The
Gendarmes typically cover the rural areas and roadways; they typically wear
Medical care does
not meet U.S. standards and is limited or non-existent in rural areas. Healthcare
is substandard when available. Hospitalization is risky. Infections following
minor procedures are common even at the best medical facilities.
Drugs, bandages, IV
fluids, and other supplies are often in short supply in local hospitals. Niger
has a substantial trade in counterfeit pharmaceuticals that poses a significant
hazard for those seeking medications. Bring prescriptions and over-the-counter
medications – particularly anti-malarial medication – with you in sufficient
supply; transported these in carry-on luggage in case checked baggage is lost
or delayed. For more information, refer to OSAC’s report, Traveling with
assistance (EMT, paramedics) exists only in Niamey (SAMU: dial 15). Appropriately
trained responders only staff ambulances during daylight hours. Most ambulances
are dilapidated, have no emergency equipment, and can take an hour or more to
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
For information on medical assistance in Niger, refer to the
Embassy Medical Assistance page.
Available Air Ambulance Services
SOS: Paris, Tel:
+33-1-55-63-31-55; London, Tel: +44-20-87-62-80-08
Global Rescue: Tel: +1-617-459-4200
Europ Assistance: Tel: +1-877-710-4082,
Tamara Niger Aviation: (can’t
evacuate off continent), Tel: +227-20-73-85-85, +227-99-99-07-77
Aviation Niger: (can’t evacuate off continent), Tel: +227-20-73-40-26, +227-96-96-44-78
do not take insurance or credit cards and typically accept cash only. Carry medical evacuation (medevac)
insurance if you plan to travel to Niger.
Vaccination and Health Guidance
Only consume water for drinking and cooking from a distiller,
or if it is sanitized prior to consumption; assume all other water sources are
non-potable. Diarrheal illness is quite prevalent, even in cities and luxury
accommodations. Care with food preparation, obtaining drinking water, and
stringent handwashing will prevent most diarrheal illnesses. For
more information, refer to OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?
Air quality is poor
in Niamey. Travelers with respiratory conditions may experience worsening
symptoms in Niger.
The CDC recommends
the following vaccinations for anyone intending to travel to Niger: hepatitis A
and B, typhoid, polio, yellow fever, quadrivalent meningococcal, and rabies.
Travelers must have documentation showing a current yellow fever vaccination to
enter Niger. Niger is located in the meningitis belt of West Africa, and
experiences epidemics of meningitis every few years, typically between December
Discuss with your
doctor the best ways to avoid malaria. All of the following antimalarial drugs
are acceptable options for preventing malaria in Niger: atovaquone-proguanil,
doxycycline, or mefloquine. Chloroquine is NOT an effective antimalarial drug
due to resistance. There is year-round transmission of malaria in Niamey, given
the urban landscape and proximity to the Niger River.
The CDC lists Niger as
an “Other Area with Zika Risk” due to the presence of Aedes mosquitos and lack
of adequate surveillance to detect Zika transmission. Because Zika infection in
a pregnant woman can cause birth defects, pregnant women should not visit
Niger. Consult a physician if you are planning a family in the near term.
information on vaccines and health guidance, visit the CDC webpage for Niger.
OSAC Country Council Information
Niger’s OSAC Country Council meets quarterly. Interested private-sector security
managers should contact OSAC’s Africa team with any questions.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Embassy Address and
Hours of Operation
Ambassade des États-Unis, Rue des Ambassades, Niamey
Embassy Hours: Monday-Thursday:
0800-1730, Friday 0800-1300.
(country code 227) 20-72-26-61/62/63/64
Marine Post One:
Land line +227-20-72-31-41 (after hours) or +227-99-49-90-33
U.S. citizens traveling in Niger should register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy
disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an
emergency. Find updated
travel information on the U.S. Embassy website.
Additional Resource: Niger Country Information Sheet