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Travel & living abroad

Sub Saharan Africa

Mali

Flag of Mali
Still current at: 07 January 2011
Updated: 10 December 2010


This advice has been reviewed and reissued without amendment. The overall level of the advice has not changed; we advise against all travel to some areas of Mali.

(see travel advice legal disclaimer)


To see an enlarged version of this map click here [PDF, 558KB].

Travel advice for this country

Travel Summary

  • We advise against all travel to the northern provinces of Mali. This includes the provinces of Kidal, Gao, Koulikoro (north of Mourdiah), Ségou (north of Niono), Tombouctou (including the city of Tombouctou (Timbuktu)), Mopti, and areas bordering Mauritania east of Nioro in the Kayes province.

  • There is a high threat from terrorism in Mali. Terrorists have been involved in kidnaps in the region and we believe that further attempts are likely. Two hostages have been murdered by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) after being held for several months in the Malian desert, including a British national.  

  • There have been reports of kidnap threats against westerners attending festivals in Mali. You should be aware that the “Festival in the Desert”, planned for January 2011, has previously taken place in an area of northern Mali to which we currently advise against all travel.

  • Travel in Mali can be difficult and conditions are poor for overland travel.  You should take all necessary safety precautions, especially outside of main urban areas, have confidence in your security arrangements and maintain a high level of vigilance. See Safety and Security - Terrorism and Safety and Security - Local Travel and our Rally Racing page.

  • We are not aware of any British nationals requiring consular assistance in Mali in the period 01 April 2009 – 31 August 2010. You should register on LOCATE so that we are able to contact you in an emergency. See the General section of this Travel Advice.

  • You should take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling. See the General - Insurance.

Safety and security

Safety and Security - Terrorism
There is a high threat from terrorism. Terrorists have been involved in kidnaps in the region and we believe that further kidnap attacks are likely. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQ-M) operates directly or through criminal gangs who carry out kidnappings on their behalf or pass on their kidnap victims for monetary gain, AQ-M holds hostages in the Malian desert and has murdered two hostages, including a British national. Recent kidnaps in or close to Mali include:

  • On 16 September 2010, five French nationals were kidnapped in the town of Arlit in Niger.
  • On 22 April 2010, a French national was kidnapped on 22 April near Arlit in Niger.  He was murdered in Mali in July 2010.
  • On 28 December 2009, a group of Saudi Arabian nationals were attacked near the village of Djambala in Niger, close to the Mali border.  Four of the group died in this attack.
  • On 18 December 2009 an Italian couple were kidnapped by an armed group in south eastern Mauritania 18 km east of Kobonni on the road to Mali.
  • On 29 November 2009 three Spanish nationals were kidnapped whilst travelling in a convoy on the road from Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania, to the northern city of Nouadhibou.
  • On 25 November 2009 a French national was kidnapped near the city of Gao in Eastern Mali.
  • On November 14, 2009, there was an attempted kidnap in Tahoua, Niger, by heavily armed individuals against employees of the American Embassy.
  • A group of European tourists were kidnapped in the area of the Mali-Niger border on 22 January 2009. A British national who was part of this group was later murdered.
  • On 14 December 2008 two Canadian diplomats were kidnapped 25 miles outside of Niamey and held in Mali.

There have been reports of kidnap threats against westerners attending festivals in Mali.  You should be aware that the "Festival in the Desert", planned for January 2011, has previously taken place in an area of northern Mali to which we currently advise against all travel.

If you are travelling to Mali as part of an organised tour you should confirm with the organisers that they are aware of our Travel Advice and that they can confirm in writing that their travel insurance still applies.  You should also be aware that the local governments in the region are also attacked by AQ-M.  The security forces in Mali, Niger and Mauritania have all suffered fatalities. 

You should be aware that the long-standing policy of the British Government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The British Government considers that paying ransoms and releasing prisoners increases the risk of further hostage taking.

See our Terrorism Abroad page. 

Safety and Security - Crime
There have been incidents of armed banditry, car-jacking, and kidnap in northern Mali. Bandits and smugglers are particularly active across the Mali-Algeria, Mali-Guinea and Mali-Niger borders and constitute a real risk to travellers, especially after dark.

Safety and Security - Local Travel
We advise against all travel to the provinces of Mali north of the River Niger from Mopti. This includes the provinces of Kidal, Gao, Koulikoro (north of Mourdiah), Segou (north of Niono), Tombouctou (including the city of Tombouctou (Timbuktu), Mopti, and areas bordering Mauritania east of Nioro in the Kayes province.

Landmines have been used by groups operating in North and North East Mali.

If you plan to travel to any of the areas of Mali where we advise against travel, you are advised to fly. If travelling overland, it is essential to plan your journey in advance and inform local authorities (police and/or army) before leaving Bamako. A reputable local driver/guide is also recommended. In all cases, travelling after dark should be avoided. 

Safety and Security - Local Travel - Road Travel
Road conditions off the main roads are often poor, especially in the rainy season (June to September).  Other road users may drive dangerously and follow unsafe practices.  You should take particular care and attention when driving in urban centres.

In June 2008, 12 people were killed in one week in accidents on the Bamako-Dakar road (via Kayes).  Between 23 September and 8 October 2006, approximately 50 people died in road accidents on RN7 (Bamako-Segou-Mopti road).

See our Driving Abroad page.

Safety and Security - Air Travel
Commercial flights between Mali and Europe land at Senou International Airport in Bamako.

For more general information see Airline Security.

Safety and Security - Political Situation
Mali Country Profile

The political situation in most of Mali is calm. There has been a history of ethnic tension in some parts of the country, particularly in the North, but these tensions have reduced in the last year.

Large political rallies and demonstrations are not common in Mali, we recommend that you avoid them.

Local laws and customs

Local laws reflect the fact that Mali is a Muslim country. You should respect local traditions, customs, laws and religions at all times and be aware of your actions to ensure that they do not offend other cultures or religious beliefs, especially during the holy month of Ramadan or if you intend to visit religious areas. See our Travelling During Ramadan page.

Women are expected to dress modestly. Homosexuality is legal in Mali, but not widely accepted.

See our Your trip page.

Entry requirements

Entry Requirements - Visas
British citizens require a visa to enter Mali, obtainable from a Malian Embassy or Consulate. There are Malian Embassies in some neighbouring countries, which issue visas.

Entry Requirements - Yellow Fever vaccination certificate
You must also have a valid international vaccination card with a valid yellow fever immunisation. 

Entry Requirements - Travelling with children
Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contact the Mali Embassy in Brussels.

Health

Medical facilities in Mali are very limited.

Cholera, malaria and other tropical diseases are common to Mali. Outbreaks of meningitis also occur, usually from the end of February to mid-April. Since mid-March 2007, Malian health services have recorded nearly 400 cases of meningitis with 26 deaths, with the majority of cases occurring in the Sikasso, Koutiala and Bamako regions.

You should drink or use only boiled or bottled water and avoid ice in drinks. If you suffer from diarrhoea during a visit to Mali you should seek immediate medical attention.

In the 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic the UNAIDS/WHO Working Group estimated that around 93,000 adults aged 15 or over in Mali were living with HIV; the prevalence rate was estimated at around 1.5% of the adult population. This compares to the prevalence rate in adults in the UK of around 0.2%. You should exercise normal precautions to avoid exposure to HIV/AIDS. See our HIV and AIDS page.

You should seek medical advice before travelling to Mali and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up-to-date. For further information on vaccination requirements, health outbreaks and general disease protection and prevention you should visit the websites of the National Travel Heath Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) and NHS Scotland's Fit For Travel or call NHS Direct on 0845 46 47.

See our Travel Health and Swine Flu pages.

General

General - Insurance
We recommend that you obtain comprehensive medical and travel insurance before travelling. This should include cover for medical treatment and evacuation, accidents, cancelled flights and stolen cash, credit cards, passport and luggage. You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for all the activities you want to undertake. See our Travel Insurance page.

If things do go wrong when you are oversees then see our When Things Go Wrong page.

General - Consular assistance
The British Embassy in Bamako offers consular advice and assistance. For passport services, applications should be made to the British Embassy.

General - Registration
British nationals residing in Mali should register at the BELO, as should anyone intending to travel up-country. 

Register with our LOCATE service to tell us when and where you are travelling abroad or where you live abroad so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you in an emergency.

General - Money
Major banks and hotels accept credit cards and travellers cheques.

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Contacts

Mali, Bamako, British Embassy

Address:

British Embassy, Mali
Immeuble Semega,
Koulikoro Road,
Hippodrome,
PO Box 2069,
Bamako, Mali

Telephone:

Telephone:  00 223 2021 3412
Mobile:  00 223 6674 8208
Consular emergency: 00 223 7640 0808

Fax:

00 223 2021 8377  

Email: belo@ikaso.net

Office hours:

 

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