Wednesday, December 7, 2011

US Embassy Kinshasa Restricts Personnel and Family Members to Residences Until Further Notice

Ambassador Entwistle served
as an international election
observer in Kinshasa.
Photo from US Embassy Kinshasa/FB
The US Embassy in Kinshasa released an emergency message for U.S. citizens in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, announcing the embassy personnel restrictions and potential roadblocks in the aftermath of the country's presidential election.
12/6/2011 | The U.S. Embassy has restricted U.S. Embassy personnel and their family members in Kinshasa to their residences effective at 6 p.m. on December 6, 2011, until further notice.

At any time, there is the potential for roadblocks to occur spontaneously throughout the city, manned by police or military personnel.  In these situations, you are strongly advised to obey all commands by armed security personnel.

The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa will have minimal staffing on December 6-7, 2011, and the Consular Section will be open only for emergency American Citizen Services.
The American School of Kinshasa (TASOK) will be closed from December 5-7, with further updates on Wednesday evening December 7.

A number of international airlines have cancelled flights in and out of Kinshasa on the 6th and 7th of December.

Further updates are planned daily at 6 p.m.  Additional messages may be sent on a more frequent basis as the security situation evolves.  As SMS capabilities have been limited and are likely to remain irregular and unreliable, it is important to frequently check your email messages and review Embassy Kinshasa’s website for the latest Emergency Messages to U.S. Citizens.

On November 28, U.S. Embassy personnel in Lubumbashi and Kananga were instructed to remain in place until further notice.

On December 2, the embassy informed U.S. Citizens in the DRC that U.S Embassy personnel are returning from Lubumbashi to Kinshasa due to general election related security concerns.

On December 4, the embassy issued a message reminding U.S citizens that Embassy personnel and their family members in Kinshasa are not permitted to travel outside the Gombe neighborhood, and are urged to exercise caution and remain vigilant at all times. This restriction includes travel to the N’djili airport.

Kinshasa is a consumable post, which means our embassy folks have edible foodstuffs and personal maintenance items at their residences and will not go hungry while they are restricted to their residences. However, there is no telling how long the restriction would last. 

DRC is also a critical crime post. The 2011 Crime and Security Report on Kinshasa indicates that the overall crime and safety situation in the DRC can best be described as tenuous and volatile.  The report which is put together annually by the embassy's security office also says that "the breakdown of civil order could occur at any moment in Kinshasa and is our most important security concern."

A 2009 report put the number of American citizens who live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (mainly around Kinshasa) at approximately 1500.  A few American tourists visit the country annually and residents primarily include missionaries and business representatives.


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