Consular Warden Message
June 14, 2011
On June 8th, 2011, at approximately 13:55 hours, a foreign national was kidnapped for ransom in Bujumbura. The victim was lured to a supposed business meeting at a private residence by a local contact he had known for five years. Upon arriving at the location the victim was assaulted by two masked men armed with machetes. The perpetrators proceeded to tie up the victim and beat him, causing numerous injuries, including broken ribs. The perpetrators demanded a sum of 10 million Burundian Francs (approximately $8500 US) from the victim for his release. The victim complied by paying the ransom and was subsequently released after four to five hours in captivity. The victim was medically evacuated.
We cannot know if this one incident marks the start of a trend, or if this kidnapping for ransom was an isolated event. Certain characteristics of this incident are nonetheless cause for concern:
- A foreign national was specifically targeted in a kidnapping for ransom scheme which is rare for Burundi.
- The kidnapping was apparently arranged by a contact the victim had known for five years.
- The kidnapping occurred during daylight hours.
- There was violence used during the kidnapping.
- The kidnappers succeeded in extracting a ransom from the victim.
All U.S. citizens are advised of the following recommendations:
- If it is at all feasible, conduct meetings in public venues. This recommendation applies even to contacts you know well.
- Advise colleagues or friends of the details (who, what, where and when) of any scheduled exterior meetings/events you plan to attend.
- If feasible, bring a colleague with you to the meeting/event, or confirm that others known to you will attend.
You can stay in touch and get Embassy updates by checking the U.S. Embassy Bujumbura web site (http://burundi.usembassy.gov/index.html). You can also get global updates at the U.S. Department of State's, Bureau of Consular Affairs website where you can find the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and Country Specific Information (http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1078.html). If you don't have internet access, we have a toll-free call center for updates -- 1-888-407-4747 -- in the U.S. and Canada, or outside the U.S. and Canada on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
If you are going to live in or travel to Burundi, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) which can be found on line at https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/).
If you enroll, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date. It is important during enrollment or updating of information to include your current phone number and current email address where you can be reached in case of an emergency.
The U.S. Embassy is located on Avenue des Etats-Unis; the mailing address is B.P: 1720 Bujumbura Burundi. The phone number is (257) 22-20-70-00, fax (257) 22-22-29-26, and email BujumburaC@state.gov. U.S. Citizens Services hours are Mondays and Wednesday from 09:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Fridays from 09:00 a.m. until 10:30, except for U.S. and Burundian holidays. For emergencies after regular business hours, please call (257) 79-93-88-41.