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Do Not Travel to Africa Burkina Faso's Tragic Examples

Burkina Faso's Tragic Examples, Risks of African Adventure Travel and the U.S. Department of State Do Not Travel Advisories.


It is not advisable to travel to Burkina Faso due to the high risk of crime, terrorism, and kidnapping, per the U.S. government they are unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Burkina Faso.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. Department of State issues Travel Advisories for every country in the world, providing information on safety and security conditions, entry and exit requirements, and health issues. 

Risks of African Adventure Travel

The agencies use a range of sources, including on-the-ground information from embassies and consulates, local media reports, and input from security and health experts, to assess the security situation in foreign countries and issue travel advisories and alerts as necessary.

The Bureau of Consular Affairs no travel ban means that the US government advises US citizens against traveling to a particular country. The ban is typically issued due to concerns about safety and security, such as the risk of terrorism, crime, or civil unrest.

A no travel ban does not prevent US citizens from traveling to a particular country, but it does warn them of the risks involved. If a US citizen chooses to travel to a country with a no travel ban, they do so at their own risk. 

Recent Attacks in Burkina Faso that Led to a No-Travel Warning.

The security situation in Burkina Faso has deteriorated in recent years due to a number of factors, including the rise of Islamic extremism and the country's ongoing political instability. According to the Bureau of Consular Affairs the security situation in Burkina Faso is too dangerous for U.S. government personnel to travel outside the capital city of Ouagadougou.

On November 12, 2016, Jeff Woodlake, a 57-year-old American aid worker, was held captive for six years in Burkina Faso. He was abducted in 2016 by a group of armed men while he was working for the non-profit organization A Better World Fund. Woodlake was released in 2022 after a ransom was paid to his captors.
Jeff Woodlake

Woodlake was abducted in the northern region of Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali. He was taken to a remote location and held captive by a group of armed men who identified themselves as members of the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS).

Woodlake's captors released a video in 2017 in which they threatened to kill him if a ransom was not paid. The U.S. government and A Better World Fund refused to negotiate with the kidnappers, and Woodlake remained in captivity.

Woodlake was released in 2022 after a ransom was paid to his captors. He was taken to a military base in Burkina Faso and then flown to the United States. This attack was the latest in a series of violent incidents that have taken place in Burkina Faso in recent years.

Risks of African Adventure Travel

There are many other incidents that have taken place in Burkina Faso over the last 10 years that have caused the U.S. government to issue a no-travel warning for Burkina Faso:

  • January 2022: A group of armed men attacked the U.S. Embassy in Ouagadougou, killing two security guards and injuring several others.
  • August 2021: A series of coordinated attacks by Islamic extremists killed at least 100 people in the northern city of Djibo.
  • November 2020: A group of armed men attacked a hotel in Ouagadougou, killing at least 30 people.
  • March 2020: A group of armed men attacked a restaurant in Ouagadougou, killing at least 28 people.
  • January 2019: A group of armed men attacked a hotel and a restaurant in Ouagadougou, killing at least 30 people.
  • August 2018: A group of armed men attacked a military base in the northern city of Nassomption, killing at least 17 soldiers.
  • June 2018: A group of armed men attacked a police station in the northern city of Arbinda, killing at least 12 police officers.
  • April 2018: A group of armed men attacked a mine in the northern city of Tambao, killing at least 30 people.
  • January 2017: A group of armed men attacked a hotel in Ouagadougou, killing at least 30 people.
  • November 2016: A group of armed men attacked a hotel and a restaurant in Ouagadougou, killing at least 29 people.
Risks of African Adventure Travel

According to the Bureau of Consular Affairs if you decide to travel to Burkina Faso:

  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. 
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization so that they can monitor your safety and location as you travel through high-risk areas. This plan should specify whom you would contact first and how they should share the information.
  • Identify key sources of possible assistance for you and your family in case of emergency, such as the local U.S. embassy or consulate, FBI, the State Department, your employer (if traveling on business), and local friends/family in the high-risk area. 
  • Be sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and Members of Congress if you are taken hostage or detained.
  • Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones so that, if you are taken hostage, your loved ones will know specific questions and answers to ask the hostage-takers to be sure you are alive and to rule out a hoax.
  • Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.
  • Guard your passport and wallet when in crowded outdoor areas and open-air markets.
  • If asked to stop by police, stop only in well-lit areas or places where several officers are posted.
  • Erase any sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative by local groups.
  • Leave your expensive/sentimental belongings behind.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.

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