The United States of America has joined the long list of countries cautioning their citizens against traveling to Rwanda.
The US becomes the ninth country after Sweden, Belgium, Netherlands, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany, and France to warn about insecurity in Rwanda and its borders.
The travel advisories posted on the countries’ foreign office websites, tell their citizens to “Exercise a high degree of caution in Rwanda due to the ongoing insecurity.” mainly in areas that Rwanda share a common border with Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Uganda.
According to David Himbara, a former aide to Rwanda President Paul Kagame, US says, “Borders may close without notice…Relations between Burundi and Rwanda are tense. There is a risk of cross-border incursions and armed clashes…Armed groups operate on the DRC side of Virunga park. Exercise extreme caution; the border may not be clearly marked.”
France, which was the first to issue the travel advisory, warned her nationals to be vigilant in particular areas during their stay in Rwanda while Canada’s advisory, posted on travel.gc.ca, urged Canadians to “Exercise a high degree of caution in Rwanda due to the ongoing insecurity.”
“The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad,” the statement reads in part.
“The content on this page is provided for information only. While we make every effort to give you correct information, it is provided on an “as is” basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada does not assume responsibility and will not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. If you need consular assistance while abroad, we will make every effort to help you. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.”
A statement from Germany says: “When traveling to the immediate border area with Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, south of the Kivu, as well as on further travel to these countries, caution is advised. The same applies to the border area with Uganda in the north of the country. In the immediate border area, cross-border effects of conflicts in / with neighboring countries cannot be ruled out.”
A travel advisory, travel alert or travel warning is an official warning statement issued by a government agency cautioning its citizens on a relative safety of remaining, going to or visiting one or some specific foreign countries or tourism destinations affected or highly threatened by a calamity or insecurity.
It is a formal warning issued by a governmental or an international organisation cautioning travellers from traveling to specified destinations due to such reasons as armed violence, civil or political unrest, high incidence of crime, natural disaster, or outbreak of one or more contagious diseases like Ebola currently ravaging eastern DRC.
Over the years, governments have issued wide-ranging travel advisories warning their citizens from remaining or travelling to many countries especially African countries.
A case in point being; Kenya, Tunisia, Egypt, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Mali and Liberia.
In a related development, Rwandans applying for the Schengen visas increased by a quarter in 2018, compared to the previous year, with the highest applications citing traveling to Belgium, a new report says.
“During 2018, a number of 9,427 residents of Rwanda applied for a Schengen uniform visa, almost 25% more than the preceding year,” said Ella Worehead, Communications Manager of Schengen Visa Info centre.
Schengen Visa Info is an independent Schengen Visa related information and news publishing websites worldwide.
In 2017, Schengen embassies located in Rwanda collected 7,567 Schengen visa applications in total.
Schengen is an area comprised of the territories of 26 European Union countries whose citizens can move within this zone visa-free but other nationals have to apply for visas before arrival.
The area is traditionally known as an attractive hub for foreign visitors. Last year Schengen embassies scattered around the globe received over 16 million uniform visa applications.
Figures show that Schengen countries are also popular destinations among Rwandan residents.
Last year, the Belgian embassy accounted for 97% of a total of Schengen visa applications followed by the German and French embassies.