This is an annual
report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S.
Embassy in Bamako.
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
at the date of this report’s publication assesses Mali at Level 4, indicating
travelers should not travel to the country due to crime,
terrorism, and kidnapping.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Embassy in
Bamako 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 Mali-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 a serious
risk of crime in Bamako. Although most crimes in Bamako are of a nonviolent,
opportunistic nature, criminals can be violent. Assaults involving firearms and
physical violence pose continued threats, and property theft is regularly
reported. The majority of reported attacks have targeted unaccompanied
individuals in the early morning or late night hours and ranged from muggings
at gun or knifepoint to physical assaults.
In recent years,
several expatriates have been victims of attempted carjacking. Carjackings and
robberies occur frequently on the well-traveled Route National 5 (RN5) between
Bamako and Siby. Bandits routinely set up roadblocks to stop vehicles and steal
belongings. In September and October 2018, carjackers murdered four individuals
on the RN5. There are periodic reports of nighttime robberies of commercial establishments
(e.g. restaurants, convenience stores, small businesses) in Bamako. Residential
break-ins are not common; however, proper locks and solid doors are warranted,
and most people with means employ residential guards 24 hours per day. Violent
crime is a particular concern during local holidays and seasonal events in
Bamako, its suburbs, and Mali’s southern regions. A brief spate of armed
robberies affected non-governmental organization (NGO) offices in Bamako around
Thefts from hotel
rooms may occur. Do not leave anything of value in your hotel room, and ensure
that you lock hotel room doors while you sleep. There have been reports of drug
trafficking and prostitution in some restaurants, nightclubs, and hotels in
Bamako. Given a history of terrorist attacks against soft targets like hotels
in Mali, consider carrying a doorstop to secure your hotel room while you sleep.
Crime continues to
increase outside of Bamako, affecting a large number of NGOs. Carjackers routinely
target NGOs in the center and the north of the country. Criminals have beaten
and bound NGO workers during vehicle thefts. One carjacker used a stolen NGO
vehicle as a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) in an attack on
the UN camp in Timbuktu in April 2018. Terrorists and bandits routinely warn
NGOs not to work in certain villages, and steal supplies donated to the local
Other Areas of
Like in any capital city,
marketplaces and popular public areas in downtown Bamako are gathering places
for criminals and prostitutes. Be vigilant and exercise caution in these areas
at night. Be aware of anyone (including children) who jostles you, even if it
appears innocent; this is a ploy pickpockets use to distract you. Theft of
unattended items is common; avoid carrying anything you cannot easily replace. Avoid
wandering around in remote areas of the city by yourself, particularly at
night. It is best to travel in groups and stay in illuminated areas as much as
it is not generally against the law to take photographs, request permission and
exercise care before taking pictures and video. Do not take photographs and
video of sensitive buildings (e.g. police or military facilities, or embassies,
including the U.S. Embassy). MINUSMA headquarters prohibits photography and has
arrested offenders. For
more information, review OSAC’s Report Picture
This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
The U.S. Government is
unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the northern and
central regions of Mali, as the Embassy restricts U.S. government employee
travel to these regions due to security concerns. The Malian government has
imposed curfews and movement restrictions including moto and vehicle bans in
parts of northern and central Mali due to insecurity.
Avoid the northern
parts of the country due to terrorist and criminal activities, threat of
kidnapping, and ongoing military operations. Northern Mali remains desolate and
difficult to patrol, and continues to provide sanctuary for extremist groups. Some
government and financial services have returned to the northern regions of
Timbuktu and Gao, but school closures due to threats in the central region
remain a persistent problem.
Security in central
Mali, to include the Mopti region, has steadily declined over the last two
years. There is little government presence in remote areas of the region, and
security forces are unable to protect travelers and counter the rampant
criminality and advances of violent extremist organizations. Attacks on military
and gendarme outposts happen frequently after dark. Travel outside the main
cities during darkness carries extreme risk.
problems of unemployment, food insecurity, and long-term economic
underdevelopment persist. The country is far from being able to combat the
economic drivers that lead individuals to banditry and other forms of
criminality, the largest disruptive forces facing the private sector.
For more information, review OSAC’s report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport,
Road Safety and Road
Driving is a major
safety concern. Traffic law enforcement is practically non-existent. Low-level
police corruption remains rampant, and drivers can expect police to request
cash bribes on site. Automobiles share the road with mopeds, motorcycles,
bicycles, donkey carts, and pedestrians, many of whom do not look before they
venture into the street. Many drivers lack rudimentary driving skills. Many
vehicles, including public transportation vans and taxis, are in poor maintenance,
overloaded, and break down frequently. Drive defensively and expect the
unexpected from fellow drivers. Driving at night in Bamako can be hazardous, as
many vehicles lack headlights and roads are poorly illuminated. Avoid travel at
night on foot, since poor lighting increases the chance of a vehicle striking
Mali continues to
improve paved roads leading from Bamako to most major cities in the south;
however, this has resulted in many accidents due to speeding. The rainy season
(June-September) can make many of the roads outside the capital impassable. Deep
sand and ditches are common, even on major routes; always use four-wheel-drive
vehicles with spare tires and emergency equipment and/or roadside assistance
kits. Travel overland in convoys and with long-range communications capability.
There is only limited cellular phone coverage in many areas; use satellite
phones if practicable. Limit overland travel to daylight hours to avoid the
risk of banditry, which increases at night, and vehicular accidents due to poorly
Traffic police are
routinely slow to respond to accidents; drivers often resolve accidents without
the assistance of the police by mutually agreeing on a sum of money to cover damages.
Local drivers expect motorists involved in an accident resulting in injury to
pay for the immediate medical treatment of the injured, regardless of who was
at fault. Crowds commonly gather at the scene of an accident/altercation, and support
either party involved; this can potentially threaten the safety of the parties
if tensions escalate. Vigilante street justice is common. Most accidents occur
between cars and motorcycles, often resulting in injury of the motorcyclist. Malian
law dictates that able parties “assist someone in danger” (i.e., the injured
party), regardless of who is at fault; refusal to do so is not only contrary to
local custom, but also a violation of law. Locals widely perceive Westerners as
the ‘able party’ in these circumstances.
For more information on driving, review OSAC’s reports, Driving Overseas: Best Practices and Road Safety in Africa.
The U.S. Embassy does
not recommend the use of local taxis, but taxis are widely available in and
around Bamako. Taxis can be in poor mechanical condition, and the skills of the
drivers vary. If you use taxis, take extreme care. Negotiate a rate with the
driver before getting into the vehicle; it is common for foreigners to receive
a higher price quote than local passengers would pay. Streets in Bamako are
usually unmarked and unnamed, and addresses are not normally in use; be
prepared to give detailed instructions of where you want to go if the driver is
unfamiliar with the destination.
Because there is no
direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in
Mali, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Mali’s
Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation
Organization safety standards. Several major international carriers (e.g. Air
France, Royal Air Maroc, Kenya Airways, Turkish Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines)
fly directly into Bamako on a daily basis. A new terminal at the recently
expanded Bamako-Senou International Airport (BKO) is now open. Malian customs
and security forces installed a passenger screening system at the airport to
enhance air transit security monitoring. Allow a minimum of three hours for
check-in and screening procedures.
There are no
commercial in-country flights, although charter planes are available. The UN
Humanitarian Assistance Services (UNHAS) offers infrequent air service to
humanitarian workers to Mopti, Gao, Timbuktu, and Kidal regions.
Local, Regional, and
International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
There is a serious
risk from terrorist in Bamako.
The Malian government
is still in the process of implementing a peace accord with representatives of
the northern armed groups, and has taken little meaningful action to implement
the accord. Extremists and criminal groups operating in northern Mali continue
to act as spoilers to the peace process and threaten those seeking to return
government authority or deliver humanitarian services. A significant driver of
insecurity in the center is the increased inter-ethnic conflict that resulted
in more than 200 civilian deaths in the Mopti region in 2018.
attacks in the north of Mali remain at previous levels, those in the center
increased significantly in 2018, especially in the Mopti and northern Ségou
regions of the country. The 2017 merger of four terrorist groups to form Jama’a
Nusrat ul-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM, the “Group for the Support of Islam and
Muslims”) and the recent emergence of ISIS in the Greater Sahel (ISIS-GS) were
also underlying factors in the increased violence. Terrorist and armed groups
continue plotting kidnappings and attacks in Mali. They may attack with little
or no warning, targeting nightclubs, hotels, restaurants, places of worship,
Western diplomatic missions, and other locations foreigners frequent.
Terrorists in Mali seek to target foreigners, in addition to their continued
efforts to undermine the national reconciliation process.
Thousands of military
and civilian personnel working at the United Nations Multidimensional
Integrated Stabilization Mission (MINUSMA), the European Union Training Mission
to Mali (EUTM), the EU Capacity Building Mission in Mali (EUCAP) and the
Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATA) are making
concerted efforts toward security sector reform with assistance from the
international community. Additionally, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Chad, and
Burkina Faso have jointly created the G5-Sahel force to combat terrorism in the
Mali/Niger/Burkina Faso tri-border region. The force headquarters moved to
Bamako after its initial site in Sevaré (in central Mali) suffered a major
attack in June 2018. Regional efforts to clear out terrorists in the lawless
regions in the Sahel, and stabilize the center of Mali, have begun.
Much work remains for
Malian security services to be capable of controlling extremist and criminal
organizations. Large swaths of northern Mali remain largely cut off from
effective state control, including many parts of the Timbuktu and Gao regions,
as well as portions of the central Mopti region. While it is impossible to
prevent active shooter attacks – the preferred tactic for Mali-based terrorist
groups in locations foreigners frequent in major cities across West Africa –
Malian security services need better training to improve their response to such
MINUSMA is usually
the primary target for terrorist attacks, with facilities located in the areas
where terrorism is most prevalent. MINUSMA experienced continuous threats from
terrorist elements in 2018. Two of the three largest complex terrorist attacks
in 2018 targeted MINUSMA. These three attacks – which involved between 50 and
150 insurgents, multiple VBIEDs, heavy machine guns, indirect fire, rocket
propelled grenades, and small arms fire – include:
an October attack against the UN camp in
Ber that left two dead and a dozen wounded;
an April attack against the MINUSMA
supercamp in Timbuktu that left several dead and scores wounded. In addition to
MINUSMA, terrorists target the military and G5-Sahel; and
a June complex attack against the G5
Sahel headquarters in Sevaré, which forced the command to move to Bamako.
While JNIM claimed
all three attacks, other terrorist groups operating in Mali continue smaller
attacks against camps and convoy supply routes. MINUSMA remains the deadliest UN
peacekeeping mission in the world.
attacks are much less common in southern Mali than in the northern and central
regions, there have been numerous terrorist attacks in the south since 2015.
Several of these attacks in southern Mali were the work of JNIM and ISIS-GS. Most
recently, JNIM claimed a June 2017 attack at Le Campement Kangaba, a resort popular
with foreigners just outside the capital. This attack confirmed a continued terrorist
ability to plan and execute attacks in Bamako.
Despite the successes
of French counterterrorist operations, extremist groups persist in targeting
Malian and Western assets, and sporadic fighting occurs between the military
and armed groups. Although the security situation in Bamako remains stable,
recent attacks raise concerns that security forces may be struggling to adapt
to asymmetric tactics. Violent extremist elements have demonstrated their continued
ability to carry out a variety of different operations in northern and central
Mali, including convoy ambushes, targeted IED operations (including VBIEDs and
suicide bombers), and coordinated assaults on military installations. Authorities
frequently discover terrorist training camps and weapons caches.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
There is considerable
risk from political violence in Bamako. Mali held successful presidential
elections in 2018. Thousands of observers dispersed throughout Mali for two
rounds of presidential elections. While they reported sporadic incidents of
violence and election abnormalities, the situation largely remained calm. In
the lead up to the elections, the government initially denied opposition groups
demonstration permits, leading to a violent demonstration in the center of
Bamako in June. Facing international pressure after the heavy-handed crackdown,
the government subsequently allowed several peaceful pre-election demonstrations
conditions also inspired several marches and work stoppages in Bamako. Public
sector workers routinely go on strike and take to the streets. This can result
in unexpected traffic disruptions and possibly violence.
continues to plague central Mali and the Mopti region. Several factors ranging
from increased competition over land and water resources due to desertification
to reduced political power have contributed to an increase in Fulani-related
violence and violent extremism. The ongoing tensions involving Fulani, Taureg,
and Dozo groups have led to village raids and retaliation. In June, more than
30 Fulani died in the village of Koumaga during one such attack.
There is little
anti-U.S. sentiment in the country. However, as Mali continues down the path of
national reconciliation with armed groups in the north, public perception of
the neutrality of MINUSMA and/or French forces plays an important role in the
potential for civil unrest against Western interests. Local populations have
demonstrated against MINUSMA and French activities. U.S. citizens should be
sensitive to the negative public sentiments toward these forces.
infrastructure in Mali is of limited coverage and speed. International
telephone calls are expensive, and you cannot make collect calls from outside
of Bamako. There are a number of internet service providers in Mali, many of
which operate on cellular networks.
Domestic violence, including spousal abuse, is common. Although
the law prohibits spousal abuse, it does not prohibit domestic violence. The
minimum age to marry without parental consent is 16 for females and 18 for
males. Girls may marry with parental consent at age 15 if a civil judge
approves. However, child marriage remains a common practice. Female genital
mutilation/cutting is legal and widely practiced, although prohibited in
government-funded healthcare centers.
no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI
events in Mali. Societal discrimination, however, is widespread. LGBTI
individuals have experienced physical, psychological, and sexual violence,
which society views as corrective punishment; police frequently refuse to
intervene. Most LGBTI individuals isolate themselves and keep their sexual
There is no
law protecting the rights of persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or
mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or in the
provision of other state services, nor requiring accommodation and access to
public facilities. No special accommodations or officially reduced fares or
rates are available to persons with disabilities in public transportation or
taxis, communications, lodging, medical facilities, restaurants, cafés, bars or
other tourist spots. Footpaths and pedestrian-friendly road crossings are rare
and generally are inaccessible to persons with disabilities.
Kidnapping is an
ongoing threat in northern and central Mali. The State Department released a
number of security alerts drawing attention to kidnapping-related risks in
Mali. In 2017, a Colombian nun in the Sikasso Region became the seventh
westerner kidnapped in Mali since 2013. In July 2018, JNIM released a video of
six hostages it held in Mali. The video also contained footage of U.S.
missionaries working in Koutiala, reinforcing the belief that missionaries and
people working for faith-based organizations may be targets. For more information,
review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
Although willing to
assist and provide services, local police are poorly trained, poorly paid, and
lack resources to combat crime effectively. Police and emergency responders
have requested money in return for providing what U.S. citizens view as routine
police services. Legitimate police security checks are frequent and usually
comprise two or more police officers located at main intersections or near
bridges. Calls to police stations for urgent assistance have often generated
responses that no officers are available, or that there is no fuel for response
vehicles. If the police do respond, many lack investigative skills to solve the
most basic crimes or to identify and arrest suspects.
The Malian government
considers security sector reform a key policy priority and has initiated – with
support from the international community –significant efforts to reform and
rebuild its security forces. Support from the international community focuses
on improving Police, Gendarme, and National Guard performance, capability, and
institutional capacity. This support ranges from equipment provision to strategic
planning and crisis response development. The European Union Training Mission
(EUTM) to Mali is heavily involved in the military reform and restructuring efforts.
Carry copies of your
passport data and visa pages with you in the event police stop or detain you. Do
not hand over originals if possible.
The Government of
Mali has extended a State of Emergency through October 2019, giving security
forces broader power to limit protests, detain individuals, search people and
property, and restrict movement. The organization of security forces starts
with the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection. This Ministry is composed
of four main branches: the National Police, Civil Protection, National
Gendarmerie, and the National Guard. The Gendarmerie and National Guard are
military organizations that also come under the Ministry of Defense but are
affiliated with the Ministry of Security to reinforce police operations in
major cities, particularly during riots or civil unrest. Law enforcement is the
responsibility of the National Police. National Police responsibilities are
concentrated exclusively in urban areas, while the Gendarmerie is primarily
responsible for rural areas.
guards is a popular mechanism for protecting property and services. Many
businesses and expatriate residents employ full-time guards to protect
residences and office facilities.
generally does not meet U.S. standards. For those traveling outside of Bamako,
medical facilities are scarce and may only provide basic care. All travelers should
prepare a medical emergency kit including first aid supplies and malaria
for Available Medical Services
The Pasteur clinic is a multi-specialty
clinic with emergency capabilities and a small hospital. Although temporarily
closed due to a minor Ebola case in 2015, the clinic has reopened as a viable
medical facility. Hamdalaye ACI 2000, BPE 4794, Bamako; +223 2029-1010,
Golden Life Hospital opened in
2017 in the Badalabougou neighborhood of Bamako, and employs 11 specialists. The
hospital contains an emergency room, operating rooms, and a VIP suite. Badalabougou
sur la Corniche, Rue 50, Porte. 734; +223 2022-9999, +223 2022-1111
The Hospital of Mali
opened on the east end of Bamako in 2012. Located in the Missabougou area of
Sotuba, it offers limited medical services. The Hospital Gabriel Toure is the
largest facility in Bamako, offering a range of emergency and medical services.
Avenue Al Quds, Medina Coure, city center, +223 2222-7122. These hospitals are
far below U.S. or European standards. There is no national capacity to deal
with a mass casualty incident.
provides reliable air ambulance service, but requires approximately 24-48 hours
response time. All travelers should secure adequate medical evacuation (medevac)
insurance and bear proof of that coverage at all times. Local medical capacity
is extremely limited.
Vaccination and Health Guidance
Malaria is a common
and potentially deadly infection for travelers. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) recommends taking antimalarial medication before, during,
and after travel to Mali. Other diseases that may affect travelers to the
region include dengue, schistosomiasis, polio, and lassa virus. In 2014, Mali
detected its first case of Ebola. As of 2015, Mail was already free of Ebola,
but remains on high alert for further cases. In 2017, the CDC designated Mali
as a country at risk for an outbreak of the Zika virus. Because Zika infection
in a pregnant woman can cause serious birth defects, women who are pregnant or
who may become pregnant should not travel to Mali. All travelers should
strictly follow steps to prevent mosquito bites and sexual exposure to Zika
virus during and after the trip. The CDC offers additional information on
vaccines and health guidance for Mali.
For more information, refer to OSAC’s Report, Traveling
OSAC Country Council Information
The OSAC Country
Council in Mali was established in 2017. The Regional Security Officer is
available to meet with representatives of U.S. private-sector organizations and
provide information on the current security situation in country.
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
The Embassy is
located in ACI 2000, Rue 243, Porte 297, Bamako
Monday-Thursday, 0730-1700; Friday, 0730-1130
Regional Security Office:
U.S. citizens in Mali
should enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling, you will receive
security updates, and the Embassy can contact you more easily in case of
Mali Country Information Page
to High-Risk Areas