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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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Angola 2019 Crime & Safety Report

 

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Angola at Level 1, indicating travelers should exercise normal precautions. Exercise increased caution in urban areas due to crime.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

The U.S. Embassy in Luanda does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizens’ Services unit (ACS) cannot recommend a particular individual or location, and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

Review OSAC’s Angola-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

Crime Threats

There is serious risk from crime in Luanda. According to official police statistics, crime has increased in recent years. The Embassy also observed an increase in crime specifically in Luanda, including kidnappings for ransom. However, robbery remains the primary criminal threat to the expatriate community in Luanda. Assault and carjacking, sometimes escalating to homicide, have occurred throughout the capital. Violent incidents are more common after dark. Travel in groups when possible, and try to include at least one person capable of communicating in Portuguese.

Use all security devices and lock (double lock, if possible) doors. If you have a safe haven, sleep there. Do not investigate suspicious noises yourself; send your guard or call for help. Use a peephole viewer before opening the door/gate. Use secure storage for valuables and store expensive items when you leave. Lock doors and remove keys to areas that you consider off-limits. Take great care in hiring domestic staff, guards, and drivers, and avoid temporary help whenever possible. Workers should always notify you before they arrive; do not leave them unsupervised, and limit their exposure to your property as much as possible. Exercise discretion regarding discussions of important matters.

Cybersecurity Issues

While internet penetration continues to increase, Angola has not had major issues with cybercrime. Occasionally, the Embassy learns of scams involving the theft of phone credits or identities via cellular or internet networks. Threats against cyber infrastructure appear minimal. The Embassy is unaware of any serious attempts to improperly infiltrate private or government networks.

Other Areas of Concern

U.S. Embassy personnel may not enter the wooded area directly in front of the Embassy, and may not walk along the “Serpentine” (Rua Nehru) road leading from the Embassy to the Marginal (Avenida 4 de Feveriero). Robberies and assaults involving expatriates and local nationals have occurred in both of these areas. No areas of Luanda are off-limits to U.S. Embassy personnel in vehicles, though staff traveling outside of Luanda must inform the Regional Security Office (RSO) before departing. Embassy personnel use satellite phones, digging equipment, and emergency beacons when traveling overland outside of Luanda. U.S. Embassy personnel may not drive outside of Luanda after dark; they also may not walk in the city between 2200 and 0530. For more information, read OSAC’s report, Pedestrian Security in Luanda.

Certain areas of Angola, particularly in the south, continue to suffer from landmines and unexploded ordnance (UXO); demining efforts continue to decrease the threat. Progress continued in 2018, with a goal of being landmine-free in 2025. Use caution in Benguela, Huila, Huambo, Bie, and Cuando Cubango provinces, all of which have a higher number of landmines and UXO than other areas of the country.

Those living in or planning to visit the far northern enclave province of Cabinda should be aware of threats to their safety outside of Cabinda City. Armed groups have in the past specifically targeted and attacked expatriates; these armed attacks resulted in the rape, robbery, and murder of a small number of expatriates. Following these attacks, the government increased its security presence in the region. Private-sector representatives in the Cabinda area continue to report a routine security force presence.

Transportation-Safety Situation

For more information, review OSAC’s report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.

Road Safety and Road Conditions

The principal safety threat is vehicle accidents, which increased in 2018. Serious accidents are less common in Luanda than in the provinces, due to unpredictable roads with stretches of potholes, inexperienced drivers, increased traffic, non-operable traffic lights, and abuse of alcohol while driving. Very few intersections have functioning traffic signals; drivers sometimes ignore those that do. Potholes are common, particularly outside of the central business district and off of main roads. Vendors and other pedestrians regularly dart in/out of traffic.

In general, road conditions outside of Luanda have slowly declined in recent years. Due to ongoing economic challenges, the majority of road improvement projects outside of Luanda have ceased. Major routes, particularly to the south, feature gas stations and other roadside services; however, the road surfaces suffer from large potholes. While drivers should expect some off-road driving on any journey of significant distance, travel between major cities is manageable with a four-wheel drive vehicle. Travel on secondary roads, however, often requires additional equipment to manage unpaved and sometimes nearly impassable roads.

The government continues its robust efforts to enforce national traffic and safety laws, including vehicle inspections, enforcement of speeding laws, and public awareness campaigns to promote safe driving. Officials regularly request bribes from drivers, including expatriates. Drivers are encouraged to have all of their paperwork in order so that they can resist such requests.

For more information on self-driving, review OSAC’s reports, Driving Overseas: Best Practices and Road Safety in Africa.

Public Transportation Conditions

Avoid using public transportation, other than reputable taxis. Many vehicles are poorly maintained, and petty crime often occurs on crowded buses.

In rent years, the Embassy surveyed several local taxi services and, in consultation with other Embassy offices, determined that Morvic (tel. 946 493 118), Transcoop (tel. 924 306 677), Divisao (tel. 923 696 156), and Universal (tel. 942 641 476) are acceptable for Embassy personnel use.

Terrorism Threat

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There is minimal risk of terrorism in Luanda. The Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (Frente para a Libertação do Enclave de Cabinda, FLEC) is the only known, local group that has employed terrorist tactics in the country. Its precise composition and numbers are unknown. These incidents, while small in overall numbers, have occurred with little/no warning. In recent years, FLEC’s ability has diminished to that of a propaganda war.

Regional terrorist threats (e.g. Boko Haram, AQIM, and al-Shabaab) are a concern, but these groups have never carried out an attack in Angola. The government takes the threat of terrorism, including the danger of attacks from transnational groups, seriously. The Embassy works closely with Angolan and other partners to share information about potential threats and to disseminate that information to the U.S. community as quickly as possible.

Anti-U.S./Anti-Western Sentiment

Some anti-U.S. and anti-Western sentiment exists, but is rarely expressed openly.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Civil Unrest

There is minimal risk from civil unrest in Luanda. Demonstrations occur in Luanda, but the authorities normally manage them. The law protects freedom of speech and assembly, but security forces regularly impede demonstrations before they start. The law requires any group to notify the provincial government before a public demonstration can take place. The provincial government may request the group postpone or cancel the demonstration if it deems the demonstration to be disruptive to public peace or in conflict with another public event. Sometimes administrative requirements (a prohibition on protesting near a government building) purposefully stifle public dissent. Authorities have arrested and detained protestors for marching and gathering in public places without authorization.

While most authorized, large public gatherings have a neutral or pro-government tone, opposition protests have occurred. Police accompany many gatherings and most demonstrations, ostensibly for the security of all parties. When a demonstration takes place that the government deems disruptive, police response is usually swift and effective. Avoid any large gatherings and be mindful of the possibility of violence surrounding demonstrations. On occasion, confrontations with police have resulted in injuries to demonstrators.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Some parts of Luanda are vulnerable to flooding and fires.

A multi-year drought has resulted in crop failures throughout much of the south. The government continues to address this concern.

Critical Infrastructure

Luanda is an increasingly modern city with consumer services ranging from upscale hotels to fast food outlets. However, rural development outside of major provincial cities has lagged. Plan on self-sufficiency when traveling to certain areas.

Economic Concerns

Angola’s oil-based economy presents a host of economic espionage targets for malicious actors.

Privacy Concerns

Angolan constitutional and statutory protections against government searches are less rigid than those in the U.S. U.S. citizens are subject to investigation by authorities, who are often curious about foreign visitors.

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnappings have increased in recent years, particularly those involving ransom, which had previously been rare.

  • In 2017, kidnappers took and killed a famous female Angolan journalist.
  • In 2016, there were several high profile kidnappings-for-ransom and even a daylight murder of a Portuguese national who resisted being abducted by the kidnappers.
  • In 2015, there was an alleged, but difficult to document, increase with a series of kidnappings-for-ransom targeting Chinese nationals.

For more information, review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.

Police Response

Angolan police continue to improve their capabilities, despite internal issues like corruption and resource and training shortages. Police are not always proactive or responsive to reports of crime or requests for assistance. English-language abilities are limited.

Unauthorized photography of certain sites (e.g. government buildings) might result in fines/arrest. For more information, review OSAC’s Report Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.

Travelers must carry identification at all times. To avoid the risk of theft or confiscation of original documents, keep passports in a secure place and carry a certified copy of your passport and visa/immigration documents with you. Short-term visitors should carry their passports. The Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy can prepare certified copies of U.S. passports at no charge for individuals registered with the Embassy. For longer-term travelers, the Ministry of External Relations (Ministério das Relações Exteriores) issues local identification cards.

If local authorities question you, provide the certified copies of ID documents as proof of identity and citizenship. When traveling between provinces, police often require original identity documents, and have reportedly detained expatriates for providing certified copies of originals in lieu of original documents.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Detained individuals have the right to request the detaining officer’s name and badge number. Angolan officers receive training in this requirement, and have generally complied with such requests. In the event of police detention, request consular notification to the U.S. Embassy and/or request to contact the U.S. Embassy Consular Section.

Crime Victim Assistance

Police: 113 or 222 332 301

Fire: 115 or 222 323 333

In the event of an emergency during business hours (0730-1730 Monday-Thursday, 0730-1200 Friday), U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy at (244) 222 641 000 to reach the Consular Section. In the event of an emergency outside of business hours, U.S. citizens should contact the Embassy by calling the Duty Officer through the after-hours emergency number: (244) 923 404 209; if the first afterhours contact number is not available, call (244) 923 640 154 or (244) 222 641 112.

Police/Security Agencies

Angola’s Ministry of Interior administers the National Police, Diplomatic Police, Border Police, and other police agencies. Angola’s Ministry of Finance oversees the country’s Immigration and Customs authorities.

Medical Emergencies

Medical facilities and services do not always meet international standards. Adequate care for serious medical emergencies is limited to Luanda, where there are several well-staffed and equipped private clinics. Some of these facilities offer 24-hour service with a general practice physician and specialists on call.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

For medical assistance, refer to the Embassy’s Medical Assistance page.

Available Air Ambulance Services

International SOS, which also runs an air evacuation service, provides the only reliable local air ambulance service. SOS works on a fee-for-service or subscription basis. The SOS ambulance will transport to the clinic most appropriate for the patient's condition. Call 923 441 900.

Insurance Guidance

Overseas medical insurance and evacuation insurance are essential for visitors not affiliated with a foreign embassy or major company in Angola, though there is no legal requirement that travelers carry such coverage. For more information, refer to OSAC’s report, Medical Evacuation: A Primer.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

Use bottled water available in hotels and restaurants. Restaurants expatriates frequent are generally safe, but avoid purchasing food from street vendors or facilities with questionable sanitation. For more information, refer to OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?

The State Department Medical Office strongly recommends the use of malaria prophylaxes. Angola suffers from high rates of malaria, cholera, intestinal parasites, rabies, and a variety of contagious and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Angola.

OSAC Country Council Information

The Country Council in Luanda meets on an ad-hoc basis. 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

U.S. Embassy Rua Houari Boumedienne #32 Luanda, Angola C.P. 6468

Business hours: 0730-1730 Monday-Thursday; 0730-1200 Friday

Embassy Contact Numbers

Tel: +244-222-64-1000 +244-222-44-5481 +244-222-44-7028 +244-222-44-6224

Website: https://ao.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

American visitors should register with https://step.state.gov/step before arrival in Angola to facilitate consular assistance should the need arise.

Additional Resources

Angola Country Information Sheet

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