As a result of a deteriorating security situation and fears of violence amid anti-government protests, the United States, the United Kingdom and Belgium have issued statements warning against travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and urging foreign nationals to leave that country if their continuing presence is not essential. On Tuesday morning, up to 20 protestors were killed in clashes with security forces in Kinshasa.

Key points: 

  • The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa ordered family members of U.S. government personnel and authorized nonemergency personnel to depart the DRC earlier this month, and updated an October travel warning to recommend that “all U.S. citizens should have evacuation plans that do not rely solely on U.S. government assistance.”
  • On Dec. 14, the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office warned that previous anti-government protests in Kinshasa on Sept. 19-20 had been violent and that new demonstrations could therefore lead to the closure of local and international schools, the suspension of commercial flights and the closure of borders
  • The Belgian Foreign Ministry issued a similar travel warning on Dec. 16 citing escalating factors such as “the expulsion of Belgian journalists, rumors of the closure of certain airports, the possible restriction of internet communication and the risk of new demonstrations.”

Background: The recent travel warnings by the U.S. and European governments indicate concerns about escalating anti-government protests as President Joseph Kabila’s term runs out. Constitutional term limits required Kabila to step down when his second mandate ended at midnight on Monday. However, the DRC’s electoral commission postponed the national elections until April 2018 because of inadequate resources and a constitutional court ruling earlier this year confirming that Kabila can remain in power until a successor is elected.

BAL Analysis: All foreign nationals in the DRC should review their security situation; those in need of immigration services should anticipate delays in processing through the next several weeks.

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