BY INSI

IN BRIEF: Ivory Coast as at 22/04/14

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) now advises against all but essential travel to the western regions of Dix-Huit Montagnes, Haut-Sassandra, Moyen-Cavally and Bas-Sassandra regions of the Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire), in particular the area to the west of Duékoué up to the border with Liberia. 

Seek professional local advice before embarking on any travel to these areas. 

Security in the Ivory Coast

The security situation in Abidjan can deteriorate at short notice. There have been reports of violence and shootings in the area since August 2012. Foreigners have not been targeted as of yet.

Although the risk of a return to the levels of conflict experienced between December 2010 and May 2011 is low, you should constantly review your personal security arrangements and take professional security advice when reporting there. Keep up to date with local developments through the local media and local contacts.

Keep a stock of food and water, avoid all demonstrations and adopt a low profile, particularly at night.

Crime

There is a risk of crime in Abidjan, including violent crime, car-jackings, armed break-ins to private residences, hold-ups in the street, and stealing from cars. Such incidents are not common, but they do occur. Weapons circulate freely. Avoid using public transport, or walking around after dark.

There have been reports of westerners being robbed at gunpoint on the main road from Abidjan to Yamoussoukro, the capital. Most armed robberies occur at night though some incidences have happened during the day. You should be vigilant and drive with doors locked.

There is a risk that demands will be made for bribes if you attempt to drive across the two bridges over the lagoon in Abidjan at night.

Scams in West Africa

Cases of scam artists assuming the false identity of a foreign national working and living in West Africa have been reported. In these cases the criminals establish an on-line relationship with their victims which, in time, usually results in a request for money. In some instances the impostor will inform their foreign victim that they have been hospitalised or arrested and need money quickly. In other cases foreigners have come to West Africa to meet the person with whom they have been in contact only to be kidnapped and become the victim of financial extortion.

If you receive a claim that an on-line associate whom you have never met is in difficulty in the Ivory Coast, be very wary before becoming involved in transferring any money. Treat any requests for funds, a job offer, a business venture or a face to face meeting from someone you have been in correspondence with over the internet who lives in West Africa with considerable caution.

Terrorism

There is a general threat from terrorism. Following French military intervention in Mali, there is a possibility of retaliatory attacks targeting western interests in the region. 

Diseases

Ebola

An outbreak of Ebola virus has been confirmed in south-eastern Guinea. If you travel to this region you should follow the health advice issued by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, maintain strict standards of hygiene and avoid eating bushmeat.

So far, there have been no confirmed cases of Ebola in the Ivory Coast. 

SecureBio has kindly provided the following aide-memorie for the Ebola Virus (EVD).

Cases of meningitis have been detected in northern and central regions of the Ivory Coast. The affected districts are Boundiali, Bouna, Ferke, Korhogo, Seguela and Tengrela in the North and Bandama Valley region in the central part of the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other international health agencies are supporting local authorities to control the spread of the disease.

Yellow fever, cholera, and measles cases have been reported in the Abidjan area since the start of 2011. Falciparum malaria is also endemic. You should ensure you have the relevant vaccinations and take the appropriate prophylaxis.

INSI recommends that you register with your Embassy and warden network in Abidjan to keep abreast of updates.

Please contact INSI if you have additional information regarding the safety of news crews covering events in the Ivory Coast.


Note: The views here are those of the author and are personal reflections and safety advice. They are meant to assist journalists covering the Ivory Coast. INSI holds no responsibility for any ensuing problems as a result of this advice.

With thanks to the FCO for providing information from which this advice is adapted.

Photo: Two men walk on the main road between the city's of Yamoussoukro and Bouake in, Ivory Coast. (AP Photo)