This is an annual
report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S.
Embassy in Kigali, Rwanda. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Rwanda.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Rwanda country page for
original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of
which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at
the date of this report’s publication assesses Rwanda at Level 1, indicating
travelers should exercise normal precautions. Exercise increased caution along
the Rwanda-Burundi border due to armed
conflict; and the Rwanda-Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) border
due to armed conflict. Review
OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
U.S. Department of State has assessed Kigali as being a MEDIUM-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. Most reported incidents involve petty theft,
and residential and hotel room robberies.
crimes tend to be crimes of opportunity, with unsecured items stolen
from yards or unsecured homes. There has been no increase in forcible
entry of homes to commit robberies; however, burglars generally
target homes when residents are not present. Burglars may break and enter,
or domestic staff and residential security guards may allow them entrance.
citizens have reported a slight increase in residential theft throughout
Kigali. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and Outs and Considerations for Hotel Security.
violent crimes such as assault, robbery, rape, and home invasion occur in Rwanda,
they are rarely committed against foreigners. In 2018, however, the
Embassy received several reports of late-night assaults and robberies involving
pedestrians walking alone in poorly lit neighborhoods. Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind.
of credit card and identity information is rare, but a reasonable
possibility given the level of sophistication of potential criminal
elements in Rwanda. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers &
Fraud and Taking Credit.
police’s capabilities in fighting cybercrime have been
increasing. Practice the same protection of personally identifiable or private
information that you would in the United States. Review
OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public
Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best
Practices, and Satellite Phones: Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
moves on the right side of the road; however, due to Rwanda’s proximity to
several former British colonies, there are a moderate number of
right-side drive vehicles on the roads that create additional traffic and
spatial awareness risks. There is now a formal prohibition against
registering right-side drive vehicles,
so their presence is slowly decreasing.
roads in Rwanda are in relatively good condition. During the rainy
season, many unpaved side roads are passable only with four-wheel drive vehicles. Nighttime
driving, particularly outside major cities, is hazardous and
discouraged. Often, roadways have deteriorated surfaces and lack lane
markings, streetlights, and/or shoulders. Due to possible language
barriers and lack of roadside assistance, receiving help may be
difficult. Police may stop you at roadblocks throughout
the country and may search your vehicle and
luggage. Service stations are available along main roads.
caution at traffic circles; cars already in a circle have the
right of way. Excessive speed, careless driving, and the lack of
basic safety equipment are hazards. Many vehicles lack proper maintenance,
and drive with either extremely dim headlights or none at all. Drivers
tend to speed and pass other cars with little discretion. Some streets in
Kigali do not have sidewalks or sufficient space for pedestrian
traffic, forcing pedestrians to walk along the roadway. Street
lighting is limited; drivers often have difficulty seeing pedestrians,
cyclists, and livestock. U.S. Embassy personnel may
not drive outside of cities after dark.
must carry third-party insurance that will cover any damages from
involvement in an accident resulting in injuries. Police may confiscate
the driver’s license of individuals determined to have caused an
accident for up to three months. Causing a fatal accident could
result in three to six months' imprisonment. Authorities jail drunk
drivers for a minimum of five days and fine them 20,000
Rwandan Francs (RWF) (approximately $30).
traffic laws prohibit drivers from using mobile phones without
hands-free devices; the fine is 10,000 RWF (about
$14). After-market tinted window treatments are illegal on all
vehicles; police will require apprehended car owners to
OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the
State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety
Public Transportation Conditions
transportation can be dangerous due to overloading, inadequate maintenance, and
careless and inexperienced drivers. Use only official Kigali city buses.
Embassy personnel may not use motorcycle taxis or minibus taxis
due to safety and security concerns. Regulated orange-striped (along
the base of the vehicle) sedan auto taxis are safer than other options.
Agree on a taxi fare before beginning your trip, and make sure
the vehicle has functioning seat belts. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport,
U.S. Department of State has assessed Kigali as being a LOW-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official
U.S. government interests. Exercise extreme caution when traveling near
the border with the DRC, given the possibility of renewed
fighting between the Congolese armed forces (FARDC) and armed rebel groups. FARDC
and peacekeepers of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in
the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) continue to engage in combat
operations against armed rebel and militia groups in the DRC provinces of North
Kivu and South Kivu, both of which border Rwanda. The security
situation in these parts of eastern DRC remains unstable; sporadic but
severe outbreaks targeting civilians, including rape, kidnapping, and
pillaging, continue throughout both provinces. The Democratic Forces for
the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) is an armed group that includes former soldiers
and supporters of the regime that orchestrated the 1994 genocide;
FDLR continues to operate in eastern DRC, near the border with
rebel groups operate in Virunga National Park, on the DRC side
of Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. Exercise extreme caution
and avoid crossing the border into DRC while exploring the Rwandan side of the
park. Rwandan armed forces actively patrol and secure their borders along
DRC; cross-border incursion by an armed group from DRC where tourists
may be present is possible.
In October 2019, FDLR splinter
group attacked the town of Kinigi adjacent to the
Volcanos National Park. Approximately 45 armed militants, many carrying machetes,
knives, and guns killed 14 residents; 19 of the militants died in a police
operation, while police arrested five others.
December 2018, suspected FDLR members attacked a Rwanda Defense
Force (RDF) outpost in the Rubavu District. Three RDF
members died in the attack, along with ten militia members.
2018, suspected militia members attacked three passenger vans in Nyungwe Forest,
killing two and injuring eight. RDF was able to repel
the attackers, killing three of them; the remaining assailants
fled over the border into Burundi.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Kigali
as being a LOW-threat location for
political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Protests are rare, but those that do occur are generally
peaceful. Any protest or rally requires a permit.
Rwandan authorities may subject you to more
scrutiny if you meet or plan to meet with individuals or organizations who are
critical of the government. This includes those in the country as human
rights observers, journalists, NGO workers, and students:
and ethnic violence are not significant issues in Rwanda. Authorities
strictly enforce laws about appropriate speech regarding the genocide.
Promoting ideas based on “ethnic, regional, racial, religious, language, or
other divisive characteristics” is illegal. Public incitement of “genocide
ideology” or “divisionism,” including genocide denial, discrimination, and
sectarianism, is punishable by five to nine years in prison and fines of
100,000 to 1,000,000 Rwandan francs ($100-$1,000).
with potential concerns include the Mount Nyiragongo volcano, just
outside the eastern DRC town of Goma, near the Rwandan border. The
volcano is active and last erupted in 2002, killing 47 people, destroying 15%
of Goma, and leaving 120,000 people homeless.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
and seismic activity is the greatest threat to Rwanda’s critical
Rwandan franc (RWF) is the official currency, though you may use U.S. dollars.
Most vendors and banks will take only U.S. bills printed after 2006. Exchange
bureaus and hotels may refuse bills other than $100.
Personal Identity Concerns
sexual activity is legal but not widely discussed. LGBTI+ individuals
may face societal discrimination and abuse, including harassment by neighbors
and police. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+ travelers.
violence is common. Although many incidents are not reported or prosecuted,
government officials encourage reporting. Review the State Department’s webpage
on security for female travelers.
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and the State
Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.
to transportation, lodging, and public buildings is limited, though newly
constructed buildings in Kigali have improved facilities, including elevators.
Sidewalks are not ubiquitous outside of Kigali and do not include curb-cuts. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.
abuse is not a significant problem, but marijuana is increasingly
available. The Rwanda National Police (RNP) has interdicted drugs coming
from the DRC and other border crossings. Those caught with even small
amounts of marijuana are subject to a prison term of up to five years.
are no statistics on criminal kidnappings, but the number is
nominal. Any such incidents does not target expatriates. Review
OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
military sites, government buildings, airports, and public monuments is illegal.
Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
wildlife areas, heed all instructions from guides or trackers. Approaching wild
animals, even in a vehicle, can result in injury or death. Authorities regulate
the tourism industry unevenly. Adequate safety inspections for equipment and
facilities are not common. Appropriate signage is not always available to
identify hazardous areas/activities, and staff may not have training or
certification either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the
field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically
available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to
access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment.
Additionally, ambulance services are limited and unreliable. Participate in
wildlife viewing at your own risk. Review OSAC’s report, When Wildlife Attacks.
the State Department’s webpage on customs and import
restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out of
emergency line in Rwanda is 112. Despite professionalization and capacity
building initiatives, the Rwandan National Police (RNP) lacks specialized
skills such as investigation, counterterrorism, bomb
disposal, and forensics. The RNP’s material resources are extremely
limited; police are unable to respond to an emergency call in a timely
manner. A mix of defense and police elements conduct patrols in the
city, but their focus is more on preventing terrorism
than crime. Community watch groups patrol neighborhoods to prevent
residential crime. Police will often direct a victim to the nearest police
station to register a complaint in person, as they are unable to respond
to the caller. RNP leadership acknowledges these challenges and is
striving to improve its operations and reputation.
aspects of Rwandan law enforcement fall under the Ministry of Justice. RNP is
the lead agency for local policing and traffic violations, and the Rwandan
Investigative Bureau is in charge of major investigations.
does not tolerate corruption; as a
result, incidents are infrequent. Victims of
harassment or attempted bribery should contact the
dedicated RNP hotline at 116 to report problems. Detained or
arrested U.S. citizens should comply with police instructions and
contact the ACS section of the U.S. Embassy immediately. Victims
often must go to the nearest police station to register a complaint in person. Download
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
assistance is very limited but reachable in Kigali by dialing
contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance services
on the U.S. Embassy website.
traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of Rwanda to ensure they
are legal in Rwanda. Always carry your prescription medication in original
packaging with your doctor’s prescription. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling with Medication.
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments
webpage on insurance overseas.
the CDC does not generally recommend the yellow fever vaccination for travel to
Rwanda, the U.S. Embassy recommends that travelers bring proof of yellow fever
vaccination. The Rwandan government retains the right to turn travelers without
the immunization away.
faces a complex HIV/AIDS epidemic, with a prevalence of 3% among the general
population but as high as 50% among the most at-risk populations.
is endemic. Use CDC-recommended mosquito repellents and chemoprophylaxis. Sleep
under insecticide-impregnated mosquito nets. The CDC offers additional
information on vaccines and health guidance for Rwanda.
OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, I’m Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health
101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council Information
has an active Country Council. Contact OSAC’s Africa
team for more information or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
2657 Avenue de la
Gendarmerie (Kacyiru), P.O. Box 28, Kigali
Phone: (+250) 252
After hours (1900-0700), contact
the Duty Officer at 078-838-3305
you travel, consider the following resources: