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Djibouti Country Security Report

Travel Advisory

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses that travelers should reconsider travel to Djibouti due to COVID-19. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.

The Institute for Economics & Peace Global Peace Index 2021 ranks Djibouti 106 out of 163 worldwide, rating the country as being at a medium state of peace.

Crime Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Djibouti as being a MEDIUM-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

The U.S. Department of State has not included a Crime “C” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Djibouti.

The crime emergency line in Djibouti is 119. Review the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.

Crime: General Threat

Most reported incidents are crimes of opportunity (e.g., pickpocketing, petty theft) for immediate gain. Panhandlers and street children target foreigners for petty theft by creating distractions.

The large number of illegal immigrants/refugees and unemployed Djiboutians loitering downtown and in other areas expatriates frequent may allow criminals to roam undetected. People in congested areas (e.g., port, market areas, city center) are at greatest risk for street crime.

Some criminals have shown a willingness to break into vehicles to gain access to high-value items such as cellular telephones and other electronic devices. Vehicle theft amongst Djiboutians has risen; maintain situational awareness when traveling or leaving your vehicle. Do not to give money to people who wash your cars without permission, or who watch your car while you park. U.S. nationals are generally the only people who give money, and this leads to further targeting. Do not give money to peddlers and street children, as this can easily lead to being swarmed by additional individuals, who can become aggressive.

There have been burglaries attempted against expatriate residences in proximity to U.S. embassy housing in recent years. Perpetrators generally lack the sophistication to overcome robust residential security measures (e.g., substantial doors, grille work, static guards). Crimes have occurred where residents left windows and doors unlocked, and where no guard was present.

The natural drug khat is a legal, socially acceptable drug sold widely throughout Djibouti.  Khat may cause many side effects such as mood changes, increased alertness, excessive talkativeness, hyperactivity, excitement, aggressiveness, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, manic behavior, paranoia, and psychoses during the first 30-40 minutes after it is consumed.  Djibouti’s high unemployment rate, cost of living, and individual desire to obtain drugs such as khat and marijuana may exacerbate criminal activity.

The Embassy has received reports of several scams in recent years:

  • One scam involves locals approaching U.S. nationals and falsely claiming to work for the U.S. military or as local employees of the U.S. Embassy. They claim to have car problems and ask either for a ride somewhere or to borrow money. Such individuals are most likely not associated with the U.S. military or the U.S. Embassy, but use the purported association to exploit unsuspecting targets.
  • Another scam involves someone who waits behind your vehicle as you back out of a parking space and purposely runs into or drives their bicycle/motorcycle into the back of your vehicle. The impact and noise frighten most people. Upon seeing someone lying on the ground and writhing in pain, most assume that this person was in their blind spot and that they have hit and hurt them. Most of these scammers will ask for money for medical bills, etc. This is a scam; get the local police involved immediately and explain to them that you believe it to be a scam.

Crime: Areas of Concern

Exercise caution in congested areas (e.g., the central market, the city center, downtown neighborhoods known locally as quartiers), especially after dark. Avoid isolated areas, particularly along the urban coastline.

The sole specific area of concern due to crime is in and around the National Stadium area. U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to the areas north of Tadjoura and Obock, and the areas near the border with Somalia.

Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind, Hotels: The Inns and Outs, Considerations for Hotel Security, and Taking Credit.  

Kidnapping Threat

The threat of kidnapping exists offshore, related to piracy developments in the Gulf of Aden.

The U.S. Department of State has not included a Kidnapping “K” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Djibouti. Review OSAC’s reports, Kidnapping: The Basics and Active Shooter and Kidnapping Response Tips.

Drug Crime

A significant percentage of Djiboutian males are under the influence of khat daily. Khat is a narcotic plant that one typically chews for effect. The distribution of khat occurs in the morning hours, with sales kiosks set up across the city. The drug's effects may escalate what would otherwise be a casual interaction into a confrontation.  Although khat is legal in Djibouti, it is illegal in many countries, including the United States. Convictions for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs result in long prison sentences and heavy fines.

Consult with the CIA World Factbook’s section on Illicit Drugs for country-specific information.

Terrorism Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Djibouti as being a MEDIUM-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

The U.S. Department of State has not included a Terrorism “T” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Djibouti. Review the latest State Department Country Report on Terrorism for Djibouti.

The Institute for Economics & Peace Global Terrorism Index 2020 ranks Djibouti 130 out of 163 worldwide, rating the country as having a very low impact from terrorism.

Terrorism: General Threat

Civil unrest or armed conflict in the neighboring countries of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, and Somalia affect the security situation in Djibouti. Many refugees and asylum seekers from across the region, including Somali refugees and asylum seekers from Ethiopia, have settled in the Ali Addeh Camp near Ali Sabieh, and refugees from Yemen continue to settle in the Markazi refugee camp near Obock.

Djibouti's proximity to multiple conflict-torn states, and the government's limited capacity to monitor border controls, raises concern over illegal immigration and the possibility of cross-border terrorism.

Travelers in Djibouti should evaluate their personal security situation in light of specific threats related to terrorism. The U.S. government continues to receive information about potential terrorist threats aimed at Western (including U.S.) and Djiboutian interests. Terrorist acts can include suicide operations, bombings (to include car bombings), kidnappings, attacks on civil aviation, and attacks on maritime vessels in/near Djiboutian ports. Attacks may target official government facilities, embassies, and military installations, and soft targets. While Djiboutian officials continue to pursue those responsible for previous terrorist attacks, many of those involved remain at large and operate in the region. Review personal crisis response plans, remain vigilant, and exercise caution in areas Westerners frequent.

Political Violence and Civil Unrest Environment

​The U.S. Department of State has assessed Djibouti as being a LOW-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.

Elections/Political Stability

Political power is shared by Djibouti’s two largest ethnic groups, the Somali-Issas and Afars.

Djibouti is a republic with a strong elected president and a weak legislature. Djibouti has a multiparty political system in which parties must be registered and recognized by the ruling authorities. President Ismail Omar Guelleh has served as president since 1999. In 2016 he was re-elected for a fourth term. International observers from the African Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and Arab League characterized the election as “peaceful,” “calm,” and “sufficiently free and transparent,” but noted the presence of restrictive voter registration laws, voter intimidation, inadequate ballot security, and lack of opposition observers. Most opposition groups did not characterize the elections as free and fair.

Legislative elections were held in 2018 but were boycotted by most opposition parties, which stated the government failed to honor a 2015 agreement to install an independent electoral commission to manage and oversee elections. International observers from the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and the Arab League characterized the 2018 legislative elections as “free, just, and fair,” an assessment disputed by opposition leaders.

Protest & Demonstration Activity

Protests and clashes with Djiboutian security have increased in the city of Djibouti and across the country. Some protests involve reaction to 2018parliamentary elections, while others have been due to a presidential security decree (implemented after the Paris 2015 terrorist attacks) prohibiting mass public gatherings. Previous demonstrations have focused on economic disparity and the lack of employment opportunities at one of the many ports in Djibouti.  Demonstrations have been mostly peaceful, although participants have blocked roads with rocks and burning tires, and engaged in indiscriminate rock throwing. Avoid political gatherings and large crowds.

Large-scale, planned demonstrations are rare. However, in early August 2021, Djibouti witnessed large demonstrations and ethnic clashes break out in Balbala, Tadjoura, Obock, and downtown Djibouti. The demonstrations initially began due to political violence occurring in Ethiopia’s contested Afar and Issa region, later spilling over to violent clashes following Djiboutian National Police hardline response. The most significant of these demonstrations and clashes broke out in Balbala and Djibouti’s Arihiba neighborhood, where street violence led to homes set ablaze by the demonstrators. These were the heaviest clashes Djibouti experienced in the past 20 years.

The Djiboutian National Police and the Gendarmerie have effective riot-control squads and take proactive steps to stage personnel in areas of potential unrest.

Approximately 60% of Djiboutians are ethnic Somali. The remainder are mostly of Afar descent, except for a small minority of Yemeni origin. Relations between Somali and Afar ethnic groups remain a sensitive issue. Since the 2001 signing of a final peace accord, many former rebels have been integrated into the National Police and Defense Forces, but ethnic-based rebel groups remain and have carried out attacks against government entities, mostly in remote locations just north of Tadjoura and Obock.

Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Security Agencies

The National Police is responsible for security within Djibouti city and has primary control over immigration and customs procedures for all land border-crossing points. The National Gendarmerie is responsible for all security outside of Djibouti city and is responsible for protecting critical infrastructure within the city, such as the international airport. The leadership of both entities reports to the interior minister. The National Service of Documentation and Security operates as a law enforcement and intelligence agency. It reports directly to the Presidency. Civilian authorities maintain effective control over security forces. Members of the security forces have committed some abuses.

Police Response

Police response is slow to non-existent. Legal response or recourse for victims of crime is extremely limited. A significant percentage of Djiboutian males, to include security and law enforcement officers, are under the influence of khat daily. Police do respond to vehicle accidents and occasionally issue traffic citations. Police typically establish checkpoints at night to enforce certain vehicle regulations, such as checking documentation for drivers and vehicles.

Law Enforcement Concerns: Emergency Contact/Information

The emergency line in Djibouti is 119.

Transportation Security

Road Safety

Driving conditions are hazardous throughout Djibouti. Hazards include poorly constructed roads, lack of safety rails, poor vehicle conditions, slow-moving truck traffic, and wayward pedestrians/animals. Drivers should be aware of unsafe road surfaces, unskilled drivers, and the presence of non-roadworthy vehicles on all roads. Many drivers consume khat, which can lead to erratic, unpredictable, and unsafe driving behavior drivers; be especially alert when driving between 1500-1700.

Road surfaces outside the capital are greatly improved from previous years, but roads are still precarious in many parts of the country. The government, with assistance from the EU, has constructed a paved road linking Tadjoura and Obock, significantly increasing the level of safety and ease of travel on the north coast. However, heavy rainstorms often wash out sections of the roads and require repair.  Additionally, roads outside Djibouti city lack proper lighting; avoid travel outside daylight hours. Very few areas in the country feature roadside assistance.

You must have a U.S. driver’s license or International Driving Permit to drive in Djibouti. Even though the use of cell phones while driving is illegal, there is very little enforcement, which leads to numerous accidents. Exercise caution at intersections; drivers often run red lights and do not stop at intersections. Third-party liability insurance is mandatory, and you must display the insurance sticker. Reputable car rental firms can include the services of a driver.

Drivers frequently change lanes into oncoming traffic without looking and expect oncoming vehicles to get out of their way even though they are in violation of recognized traffic rules. Obey posted speed limits (where present) and always drive defensively. Pedestrians do not look when crossing the road, and frequently walk out into traffic. Animals (e.g., goats, camels, stray dogs) often wander into traffic. Nomads in rural areas sometimes place rocks on the roads to stop vehicles and demand water/transportation, providing an opportunity for theft of high-value items from stopped vehicles.

Vehicle collisions remain the Embassy’s number one safety concern. Visitors involved in traffic accidents should attempt to exchange insurance information with the other party and summon police assistance if possible. Do not make restitution at the scene, especially if livestock or pedestrians are involved. Be wary of crowds gathering at the scene of an accident and depart immediately if you perceive a threat to your safety. The number of serious vehicle accidents has steadily grown over the past five years, as the number of vehicles also increased, to include large transport trucks along the Djibouti-Ethiopia corridor.

As Djibouti is the primary port for goods entering Ethiopia, there are numerous large trucks transporting goods at all hours. These trucks vary in condition from well-maintained to poorly maintained and operated. Truck accidents along the Djibouti-Galafi road are common, and drivers will attempt to pass slow-moving trucks on inclines where there is limited visibility. This greatly increases the likelihood of head on collisions. While the government recently paved the primary truck route from Djibouti to Galafi, the main border crossing into Ethiopia, some areas continue to have major potholes, with large sections unpaved or damaged. Recent heavy unseasonal rainstorms further damaged the roadway and increased travel time between the two cities. There are still sections that has significantly improved driving conditions, but the improved road areas result in increased speeds and higher likelihoods of serious accidents.

Stay on paved roads. Unmarked land mines exist in the border region with Eritrea, though most landmines have been marked or cleared from border regions.

An unresolved border dispute with Eritrea led to restrictions on travel to many areas in the north. In many instances, approval from the government is required to travel north of Obock. There have been some communications between governments, and tensions have lowered, but work on resolving the issues continues.

For detailed, country-specific road and vehicle safety information, read the World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety.

Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety in Africa, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.  

Public Transportation Safety

Public transportation is unreliable and unsafe due to unsafe driving practices and crimes of opportunity. Hotels and airport shuttle services are a safe alternative.

The capital city and the towns of Obock and Tadjoura have intercity bus and ferry services. An electric limited rail, replacing the old Ethio-Djibouti railway, began operation in 2016 with freight service.

Review OSAC’s Report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights; and consider the European Union Air Safety List.

Aviation Concerns

Djibouti–Ambouli International Airport (JIB) services direct flights to regional locations as well as major international hubs such as Paris, Istanbul, Doha, and Dubai. As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Djibouti, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Djibouti’s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. The airport is currently undergoing renovations, and most of the arrivals and departures terminal is in poor condition. There have been several security incidents involving departures from Somalia. Due to security concerns, U.S. embassy personnel may not take commercial flights originating in Somalia that stop in Djibouti as part of a multi-leg flight.

Be particularly vigilant at the airport, criminals use luggage tag information to present themselves as pre-arranged drivers. Use caution when transporting any items in checked bags that resemble weapons (e.g., toy guns). There is a significant National Police and Gendarmerie presence at the airport, but most are inside the arrival and departure terminal.

Maritime Security

With Djibouti’s location on the Bab el-Mandeb straits and proximity to Somalia, there is still a threat from piracy despite its waning presence in the area. Pirates have held foreigners hostage for ransom. Reports of attacks on local fishing boats in Djiboutian coastal waters continue. Djiboutian military ships are clearly marked and may turn away small craft or divert vessels to verify citizenship of passengers. Use established sea lanes, and pilot vessels in groups to reduce the risk of hijack. See the Live Piracy Report published by the International Maritime Bureau. In case of maritime emergency, contact the Djiboutian Coast Guard or Djiboutian Navy on UHF marine channel 16, or the Yemeni Coast Guard on channel 16 or at +967-1-562-402.

Consult with the Stable Seas Maritime Security Index for detailed information and ratings regarding rule of law, law enforcement, piracy, and other maritime security indicators.

Personal Identity & Human Rights Concerns

Djibouti is a tolerant Islamic country, but visitors should dress conservatively and observe local customs to the extent possible. 

Significant human rights issues include unlawful or arbitrary killings including extrajudicial killings; cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including violence, threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists, censorship, site blocking, and the existence of criminal libel laws; substantial interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; and the worst forms of child labor committed throughout the country.

Safety Concerns for Women Travelers

The constitution provides for equal treatment of citizens regardless of gender, but custom and traditional societal discrimination result in a secondary role for women in public life and fewer employment opportunities in the formal sector.

Reliable rape statistics are not available, and authorities do not enforce laws for sentencing perpetrators effectively. Domestic violence is common but underreported. Rather than the courts, families and the informal clan-based justice system generally handle cases of domestic abuse or violence. Police rarely intervene in domestic violence incidents. The National Union of Djiboutian Women operates a walk-in counseling center (Cellule d’Écoute) in Djibouti city that provides services and referrals for women and men.

Consider composite scores given to Djibouti by the UN Development Program (UNDP) in its Gender Development Index, measuring the difference between average achievement in three basic dimensions of human development, and Gender Inequality Index, measuring inequality in achievement in reproductive health, empowerment, and the labor market. For more information on gender statistics in Djibouti, see the World Bank's Gender Data Portal.

Review the State Department’s webpage for female travelers.

Safety Concerns for LGBTI+ Travelers

While there are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI+ events, societal norms do not allow for the public discussion of homosexuality, and there are no known LGBTI+ organizations. Authorities may prosecute public display of same-sex sexual conduct under laws prohibiting attacks on “good morals.” No antidiscrimination law exists to protect LGBTI+ individuals.

Review OSAC’s report, Supporting LGBT+ Employee Security Abroad, and the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI travelers.

Safety Concerns for Travelers with Disabilities

The constitution does not prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities. In 2018 the government created the National Agency of Handicapped Persons (ANPH). It has responsibility specifically to protect the rights of persons with disabilities and improve their access to social services and employment. The government does not mandate access to government services and accessibility to transportation, communication, accommodations, and public buildings for persons with disabilities, and buildings are often inaccessible. There are few sidewalks and no curb-cuts, and most buildings lack functioning elevators. Dual U.S.-Djiboutian citizens with disabilities may qualify for education and health services through the Ministry of National Solidarity and the Ministry for the Promotion of Women and Family Planning.

Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.

Safety Concerns for Travelers Based on Race, Religion, & Ethnicity

There is discrimination based on ethnicity in employment and job advancement. Discrimination based on ethnicity and clan affiliation remains a factor in business and politics.

Review the latest U.S Department of State Report on International Religious Freedom for country-specific information.

Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.  

Anti-U.S./Anti-Western Sentiment

There is no significant anti-U.S. or anti-Western sentiment in Djibouti.

Concerns involving the Rule of Law, Arbitrary Detention, Official Harassment, Corruption &/or Transparency

The law provides criminal penalties for official corruption, but the government does not implement the law effectively, and officials engage in corrupt practices with impunity. According to the World Bank’s most recent Worldwide Governance Indicators, government corruption is a serious problem.

Public officials are subject to financial disclosure laws, but they usually do not abide by the law.

The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Djibouti 142 out of 180 worldwide, where 1 means most transparent.

Communication Issues

The constitution and law allow for freedom of expression, including for the press, provided the exercise of these freedoms complies with the law and respects “the honor of others.” The government does not respect these rights. The law provides prison sentences for media offenses.

Individuals who criticize the government publicly or privately face reprisals.

Privately owned or independent newspapers are distributed on an irregular basis. Printing facilities for mass media are government owned, which creates obstacles for those wishing to criticize the government. The principal newspaper, La Nation, maintains a monopoly on authorized print media.

The government owns the only radio and television stations, operated by Radio Television Djibouti. The official media generally does not criticize government leaders or policy, and opposition access to radio and television time remain limited. Foreign media broadcast throughout the country, and cable news and other programming are available via satellite.

The National Communications Commission, under the Communication Ministry, issues licenses to private citizens and political parties wishing to operate media outlets and social media accounts in the country. This procedure discourages the freedom of expression on social media. In 2019, the Facebook page Djib-Live, which provides news, commentary, and entertainment, was the first private entity in the country to receive a license. The private entertainment Facebook page Buuti.tv also received a license in 2019. In 2018, the privately owned weekly journal Le Renard applied for a license but was rejected. Le Renard appealed the decision, but the courts rejected the appeal. Foreign media outlets and journalists, including BBC and Al Jazeera, do not have to obtain a domestic license; they register directly with the Communication Ministry.

The government has harassed journalists. Several citizen journalists have been arrested for posting pictures of protests or comments against the government. Many of them were apprehended for illegal reporting on social media or through online streaming platforms such as Radio Boukao and Sahan TV.

Media law and the government’s harassment and detention of journalists has resulted in widespread self-censorship. Some opposition members use pseudonyms to publish articles. The government uses laws against libel and slander to restrict public discussion and retaliate against political opponents.

Djibouti Telecom, the state-owned internet provider, blocks access to websites of the Association for Respect for Human Rights in Djibouti and independent streaming platform Voice of Djibouti, which criticize the government.

The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks Djibouti 176 out of 180 worldwide, where 1 means most freedom. The Freedom House Freedom in the World report rates Djibouti’s freedom of speech as not free.

Review OSAC’s report, Lèse Majesté: Watching what you say (and type) abroad.

​Health Concerns

Emergency Health Services      

Medical facilities in the capital do not generally offer the standard of care available in more developed countries, although a few doctors cater to the expatriate community. Facilities are almost nonexistent in many outlying areas. Trauma care is only capable of stabilizing a patient prior to medical evacuation (medevac).

The emergency response system is below Western standards; response time for accidents outside the capital is usually several hours. Ambulances are under-equipped and suffer from lack of maintenance. The training of ambulance staff is poor by western standards.

Find contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy website. The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s webpage on health insurance overseas.

The U.S. Department of State has included a Health “H” Indicator on the Travel Advisory for Djibouti. Review the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) country-specific Travel Health Notices for current health issues that impact traveler health, like disease outbreaks, special events or gatherings, and natural disasters.

See OSAC’s Guide to U.S. Government-Assisted Evacuations; review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad; and visit the State Department’s webpage on Your Health Abroad for more information.

Vaccinations

Strongly consider COVID-19 vaccination prior to all travel.

Malaria is endemic; all travelers should use chemoprophylaxis. Use CDC-recommended mosquito repellents including DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR-3535. Sleep under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets.

Given Djibouti’s proximity to the Arabian Peninsula, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is also a risk.

The following diseases are prevalent: cholera; chikungunya; dengue fever; hepatitis A; and typhoid.

Review the CDC Travelers’ Health site for country-specific vaccine recommendations.

Issues Traveling with Medications

Travel with a supply of any medications needed as some medications may be difficult or impossible to find in Djibouti.

Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with Medication.  

Water Quality

Tap water in Djibouti is not potable.

Review OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?

Environmental Hazards

Djibouti is in Seismic Zone 4 (very high risk). Ensure security protocols include earthquake drills and other similar preparation.

Although hot conditions prevail year round, brief periods of moderate to heavy rains can cause severe flooding of roads and homes due to poor infrastructure. Flooding is worse during high tide. In 2019, Djibouti experienced its worst-ever flooding, which led to several fatalities across the country. Major rainstorms can lead to flash flooding and can cause serious problems across the country.

Cybersecurity Concerns

The internet is slow and sometimes unreliable. The government has the ability to shut down the internet in an effort to limit social media access during periods of concern.

Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling Abroad with Mobile Devices, and Guide for Overseas Satellite Phone Usage.

Counterintelligence Issues

There are no counterintelligence concerns specific to private-sector operations in Djibouti.

Other Security Concerns

Landmines

With the completion of mine clearance by France in 2008 around its ammunition storage area (ASA) at La Doudah, there were no known mined areas remaining in Djibouti. There may be UXO or other anti-personnel landmines along the border of Ethiopia following a conflict in 2009, according to a 2012 report.

Import/Export Restrictions

Strict regulations exist on the temporary import and export of firearms. Hunting without a permit is illegal.

A country-specific listing of items goods prohibited from being exported to the country or that are otherwise restricted is available from the U.S. International Trade Agency website.

Photography

It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations or personnel, and other infrastructure such as airports and seaports, bridges, and public buildings, as well as of religious sites, such as mosques. Authorities could levy fines, confiscate your photographic equipment, and detain and/or expel you from the country. Do not take photos of Djiboutians without their permission.

Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.

ID Requirements

Journalists must have a letter of accreditation approved in advance by the Ministry of Communication and Culture. U.S. journalists and other journalists working for U.S.-based media institutions should contact the U.S. Embassy’s Public Affairs Section at least two weeks prior to travel to facilitate this accreditation process. Journalists who fail to receive an accreditation letter risk arrest, seizure of equipment, and/or expulsion.

Travelers should carry identification. A U.S. driver’s license or International Driving Permit is required to drive in Djibouti.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns

Power outages and spikes are common and especially affect lower-income populations. Most power surges occur sporadically throughout the day during the hot summer months. During Djibouti’s short rainy season, the lack of proper drainage creates flooding that hampers movement throughout the city. Roadways outside the city are often near wadis, which can experience flash flooding and damage roadways.

OSAC Country Chapters

Djibouti does not host a, OSAC Country Chapter.

Contact OSAC’s Africa team with any questions.

Embassy Contact Information

U.S. Embassy: Lot 350B, Haramous, Djiboutit. Tel: +253-21-45-30-00; After-Hours Emergency: +253-77-87-72-29.

Trustworthy News Sources

  • La Nation:  government-owned French-language daily
  • Djibouti Post: English-language weekly published by La Nation
  • Al-Qarn: government-owned Arabic-language weekly

Other Helpful Info

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