Democratic Republic of the Congo Risk Assessment Guide

Democratic Republic of the Congo Country Risk Assessment

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), formerly known as Zaire, is one of the largest countries in Africa and has a population of more than 75 million people. In 1998, the nation entered what is known as the Second Congo War, which included multiple nations and armed groups. Millions of people died as a result, most due to disease. Currently, the DRC is considered one of the poorest countries in the world, although it is rich in mineral deposits.

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises against all travel to the eastern and northeastern parts of the DRC, as well as Goma. Only  essential travel should be undertaken to the town of Bukavu in the region and the remainder of the country. As of November 25, 2014, a travel advisory has been in effect for the DRC.

Military activity throughout the DRC may compromise your security situation and travel arrangements,. Recently, shelling near Goma caused civilian deaths and injuries. The overall security situation is unstable, and a lack of infrastructure has impeded consular assistance in most of the country. 

On August 8, 2016, the U.S. Department of State warned against travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to the high risk of violent crime including murder and kidnapping, and armed robbery in North Kivu, South Kivu and the provinces of Bas-Uele, Haut Uele and Ituri and Tanganyika and Haut-Lomami. Those who choose to travel to the DRC are warned of armed groups, bandits, and elements of the Congolese armed forces known to kill, rape, kidnap, pillage, steal vehicles, and carry out military operations that may indiscriminately harm civilians. Official and unofficial roadblocks are often locations of detainment, questioning, and demanding of bribes.

Due to the many risks present in the DRC, you should consider comprehensive international insurance during your stay in the country. Proper coverage can help limit the financial impact of life abroad.

  • Health
  • Safety & Security
  • Terrorism

On May 24, 2016, the CDC issued a Watch Level 1 for the Republic of Congo due to reported outbreak of yellow fever with 39 cases confirmed. Yellow fever is a disease caused by a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. Symptoms take 3–6 days to develop and include fever, chills, headache, backache, and muscle aches. About 15% of people who get yellow fever develop serious illness that can lead to bleeding, shock, organ failure, and sometimes death. Travelers can protect themselves from yellow fever by getting yellow fever vaccine and preventing mosquito bites.

On August 27, 2015, the CDC issued a Level 1 Watch for the Republic of Congo for an ongoing outbreak of the measles, which is a highly contagious virus. Cases of measles have been rising in 2015 with approximately 17,000 cases and nearly 300 deaths, mostly in the Katanga Province. Travelers are reminded to obtain their vaccines before traveling to the Republic of Congo.

Medical care in the DRC is extremely poor. There are very limited facilities, and nearly none are similar to those in the US and the UK. The Centre Prive d'Urgence clinic in Kinshasa is one of the few that can manage basic health problems, but medical evacuation is necessary in most cases. You should seek medical attention immediately if you become ill during or after a trip to the DRC, and consider all possible vaccinations and other preventative measures. 

In 2012, the World Health Organization confirmed cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the northeast part of the DRC. In addition, there have been reports of African Sleeping Sickness in the Haute-Uele district. Plague is also endemic in the Orientale province.

Clements Worldwide offers Expat Health insurance coverage. This policy includes USD 5 million in health care benefits, and allows you to choose any number of doctors across the world. Clements coverage enables  flexible payment plans, choice of deductible and optional War and Terrorism coverage. This coverage extends your policy to include illness or injury caused by an act of war and terrorism.

If you are sick or injured in the DRC, emergency evacuation may be required. A Medical Evacuation and Repatriation insurance policy covers expenses to transport you to a capable medical facility in case a local medical center isn’t able to provide adequate treatment.

Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or email request@clements.com to discuss your organization’s travel needs tailored to considerations involved while operating in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Source: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, CDC, and Clements Worldwide

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The political climate in the DRC can be volatile at times. There are armed groups, bandits, and the Congolese armed forces, that commonly kill, rape, kidnap, steal vehicles, pillage, and executive military or paramilitary operations that indiscriminately target civilians. Borders may also be closed on short notice, and you should be prepared to move or prepare for violence at any time.

On October 7, 2016, the United States Department of State issued a warning against travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in response to instability and sporadic conflict across the country. Authorities warn of unrest in Kinshasha due to armed groups, Congolese military, and bandits engaged in murder, kidnapping, and robberies. Armed forces regularly carry out operations in North Kivu, South Kivu, Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele, Ituri, Tanganyika, and Haut-Lomami.

On September 29, 2016, the U.S. Department of State warned travellers of instability in the Democratic Republic of Congo related to civil unrest in Kinshasa and other cities. U.S. Department of State employees’ family members were ordered to leave the country and travel to the DRC has been halted in response to clashes occurring on September 19-20 between security forces and demonstrators. In addition to violence, armed groups, bandits, and military forces operate in North and South Kivu, Bas-Uele, Haut-Uele, Ituri, Tanganyika, and Haut-Lomami.

On May 3, 2016 in a melee attack, at least 38 people were killed by suspected rebels from the Allied Democratic Forces group in the city of Beni in North Kivu.

On January 14, 2016, UN officials announced that the Democratic Republic of Congo faces “very real risks of unrest and violence” over elections in November 2016 while confronting a “significant deterioration” of security in its war-torn eastern provinces.

In July of 2013, major demonstrations also took place in Goma. There is a strong United Nations presence in the country, and the Congolese army is active in several provinces.

In May 2013, a small demonstration in Bukavu led to violence and looting.

The results of the 2011 presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo were wildly disputed and triggered violent protests. Despite a warning from the UN secretary-general “to exercise restraint and refrain from any acts of violence, provocation, and incitement to violence,” at least 18 people were killed due to election-related violence, according to Human Rights Watch. 

There is poor transportation infrastructure throughout the country with few viable highways or railways. Road conditions can be dangerous at times throughout the DRC. Public transport is unreliable, although vehicles for hire are available in Kinshasa. Outside of major cities, roads can become blocked due to weather.

Armed gangs have been known to target vehicles, and security forces operate roadblocks at points around the country. It is common for government forces to request for bribes, leading to injuries or deaths if people refused to pay. In the past year, many U.S. citizens were illegally detained by government forces, or stripped of their valuables while being searched.

Clements offers Overseas Car insurance, which includes Physical Damage, Third Party Liability, and Excess Liability coverage. With flexible deductible options and fast claims processing, your policy will provide coverage for your vehicle fleet whether it’s on the road, parked or transported abroad.

An optional Political Violence extension is also recommended, which broadens the coverage to include strikes, riots, malicious damage, sabotage, war, terrorism or civil unrest.

Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or email request@clements.com to discuss your organization’s travel needs tailored to considerations involved while operating in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Source: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, U.S. Dept of State, and Clements Worldwide

Contact a Clements Representative for Insurance Solutions

There is a moderate threat of terrorism in the DRC, although attacks may be indiscriminate. Common targets could include places often visited by expats and tourists, such as hotels, restaurants and public transport. 

On October 20, 2016 the Armed Forces of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (FARDC) killed 11 militia members associated with the “Cult of Christ Body” in the city of Beni.

On October 10, 2016 rebels associated with the FARDC group in Beni attacked and killed 11 people. Additionally, the several homes and a school were burned.

On September 22, 2016, seven people were killed and 12 homes were set on fire by the Allied Democratic Forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Officials say the attack is the latest in series of attacks over the past several years.

On August 23, 2016, two people were killed in a machete attack in the Beni Region of Democratic Republic of Congo. Rebels were blamed for the series of civilian massacres.

On August 14, 2016, 11 policemen were killed along with 8 terrorists in Tshimbulu, Democratic Republic of the Congo when Policemen intervened in a terrorist attack by a militia. Forty militants were captured and the leader of the militia was also killed.

On August 14, 2016, an estimated 64-101 people were found killed in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Beni city. Officials called the incident terrorism.

On August 8, 2016, at least 14 civilians were killed when Mai Mai militants attacked a village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The militants were eventually driven away by government forces.

On July 18, 2016, an incursion of armed gunmen associated with Nyatura and Mai-Mai killed 7 people and injured five others.

On July 5, 2016, Ugandan rebels in the city of Oisha killed 9 people in shooting and machete attacks.

On July 1, 2016, up to 8 people were killed in simultaneous attacks carried out by the Nyatura and Alliance of Patriots for a Free and Sovereign Congo as part of the ongoing Kiva Conflict. 

A Political Violence insurance policy from Clements offers the right coverage against the risks of civil unrest, war, riots, looting and acts of terrorism.

Clements also provides a Kidnap and Ransom insurance policy, which ensures financial assistance following a kidnapping, such as independent investigations, negotiations and the arrangement and delivery of funds.

Call us today at +1.202.872.0060 or 800.872.0067 or email request@clements.com to discuss your organization’s travel needs tailored to considerations involved while operating in Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Source: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Clements Worldwide

Contact a Clements Representative for Insurance Solutions