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MALI - AVOID ALL TRAVEL
Global Affairs Canada advises against all travel to Mali (including the capital, Bamako), due to the threat of terrorism and banditry.
Safety and security
Safety and security
There is a high threat of terrorist attacks throughout Mali, including in Bamako. Despite Franco-Malian and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) efforts, northern Mali remains a safe haven for terrorist groups. Since 2015, the threat has spread to the rest of the country, particularly in the southern-most region of Sikasso and the capital city of Bamako, where terrorist attacks and banditry have become more frequent since Spring 2015.
Terrorist groups in the region are intent on increasing their attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners. Terrorist targets could include government buildings, public areas such as bars, restaurants, tourist sites, large public gatherings and events (including music festivals), and Western interests. Citizens of countries supporting the military intervention are at particular risk, but all travellers should exercise increased vigilance. On August 8, 2015, militants stormed a hotel and took hostages in Sevare, killing 13 people.
A state of emergency is currently in effect throughout Mali. Heightened security measures are in place, including random identity checks and roadblocks. Carry identification and follow the instructions of local authorities at all times.
Remain extremely vigilant, follow Malian political and social developments carefully, and register with and follow messages issued through the Registration of Canadians Abroad service. If the security situation in Mali deteriorates, the ability of the Embassy of Canada to Mali in Bamako to provide consular services may be limited.
Establishments in Bamako frequented by foreigners have been targeted by attacks, causing deaths and injuries, and other attacks may target members of MINUSMA. If you are in Bamako, you should avoid travelling in urban areas after dark, especially in places frequented by foreigners.
In the morning of November 20, 2015, gunmen stormed the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako and took hostages, killing at least 19 people. Malian authorities have declared a state of emergency.
Northern Mali (see Advisory)
Despite MINUSMA and French military efforts, military clashes with armed rebels persist in Northern Mali. Rebel forces, terrorist groups and criminal networks operate throughout this region, in which legitimate Malian security forces cannot ensure the safety of foreign travellers. The lack of infrastructure, reliable transportation, safe hotels and emergency services also exacerbate security conditions in Northern Mali. The ability of the Canadian embassy in Bamako to provide consular services in Northern Mali is severely limited.
Border areas with Côte d’Ivoire
Since June 25, 2015, terrorist and criminal incidents have been occurring in border areas with Côte d’Ivoire. Clashes between Malian authorities and other armed groups have occurred in the Misséni and Fakola sectors.
The risk of kidnapping is high throughout Mali, especially in the northern regions and in all border areas.
There is a very high risk of kidnapping in northern Mali, and Westerners are a preferred target. Some hostages have been detained for months before being released, and some have been killed. Use varied and unpredictable routes and schedules when moving from one place to another, exercise particular caution when travelling on highways, in rural areas and residential areas in Bamako—even during daylight hours—and avoid border areas. In Bamako, exercise particular caution when travelling the access roads to the airport.
Avoid travelling after dark.
Large-scale demonstrations and gatherings occasionally occur, with little or no warning, and have the potential to suddenly turn violent. They may also lead to significant disruptions to traffic and public transportation. Avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, follow the advice of local authorities and monitor local media.
Crime is on the rise in Mali, particularly in Bamako, which has seen an increase in armed assaults and robberies. Westerners have been the targets of carjacking, car theft and various scams. Roadblocks, which are often set up at night, can lead to travel disruptions and contribute to the heightened threat of crime. Avoid travelling after dark.
Carjackings occur throughout Mali, especially in the north.
Petty crime occurs often. Panhandlers are common. Be careful of scam artists at the Bamako Senou International Airport. Travel in groups, remain alert, ensure that your personal belongings and travel documents are secure and avoid poorly lit areas after dark.
Corruption is prevalent. Police may stop motorists and request payments for unknown reasons.
When shopping, note that food products are sometimes sold past their expiry date and higher prices may be charged for merchandise bought in markets.
Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in Mali. See Overseas fraud for more information on scams abroad.
Exercise extreme caution when driving. Road conditions off major roads are poor. Driving standards, lack of traffic signals, excessive speed, pedestrians and livestock on roadways, traffic congestion, the absence of sidewalks and poorly lit streets all pose serious risks. Overloaded transport vehicles often break down and cause accidents. Many vehicles lack lights. Roadside assistance is not available. Avoid driving at night.
During the rainy season, some dirt roads may be impassable without a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Vehicles should be equipped with spare tires and an emergency kit. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts and plan accordingly.
Public transportation is unreliable in the capital. Determine taxi fares before departure.
The Government of Canada does not assess foreign domestic airlines’ compliance with international aviation safety standards. See Foreign domestic airlines for more information.
It is the sole prerogative of every country or territory to determine who is allowed to enter or exit. Canadian consular officials cannot intervene on your behalf if you do not meet entry or exit requirements. The following information has been obtained from the Malian authorities and is subject to change at any time. The country- or territory-specific entry/exit requirements are provided on this page for information purposes only. While every effort is made to provide accurate information, information contained here is provided on an "as is" basis without warranty of any kind, express or implied. The Government of Canada assumes no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any damages in connection to the information provided. It is your responsibility to check with the Embassy of the Republic of Mali or one of its consulates for up-to-date information.
Official (special and diplomatic) passport holders must consult the Official Travel page, as they may be subject to different entry requirements.
Canadians must present a passport to visit Mali, which must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of expected departure from that country. Prior to travelling, ask your transportation company about its requirements related to passport validity, which may be more stringent than the country's entry rules.
Temporary passport holders may be subject to different entry requirements. Check with diplomatic representatives for up-to-date information.
Canadians must possess a visa to visit Mali. Visas should be obtained prior to arrival.
Tourist visa: Required
Business visa: Required
Student visa: Required
Children and travel
Children need special documentation to visit certain countries. See Children for more information.
See Health to obtain information on this country’s vaccination requirements.
Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
Vaccines to Consider
You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.
Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread through contaminated food and water or contact with an infected person. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment, sharing needles, tattooing, acupuncture or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.
Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or by touching objects and surfaces that have been contaminated with the virus. Get the flu shot.
Measles is a highly contagious viral disease and is common in most parts of the world. Be sure your measles vaccination is up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.
This country is in the African Meningitis Belt, an area where there are many cases of meningococcal disease. Meningococcal disease is a serious and sometimes fatal infection. Travellers who may be at high risk should consider getting vaccinated. High-risk travellers include those living or working with the local population (e.g., health care workers) or those travelling to crowded areas or taking part in large gatherings.
Rabies is a deadly illness spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from an infected animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).
Yellow Fever - Country Entry Requirements
Yellow fever is a disease caused by a flavivirus from the bite of an infected mosquito.
Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.
- There is a risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
- Proof of yellow fever vaccination for travellers from all countries.
- Vaccination may be recommended depending on your itinerary.
- There is currently a shortage of the yellow fever vaccine in Canada. It is important for travellers to contact a designated Yellow Fever Vaccination Centre well in advance of their trip to ensure that the vaccine is available.
- Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites.
About Yellow Fever
Yellow Fever Vaccination Centres in Canada
* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Food and Water-borne Diseases
Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.
In some areas in West Africa, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in West Africa. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!
Cholera is a bacterial disease that is most often spread by drinking water or eating food that has been contaminated. It causes diarrhea and in severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.
Most travellers are at very low risk. Travellers at higher risk include those visiting, working or living in areas with limited access to safe food, water and proper sanitation, or to areas where outbreaks are occurring. Travellers at higher risk should discuss with a health care provider the benefits of getting vaccinated.
Schistosomiasis can be spread to humans through freshwater sources contaminated by blood flukes (tiny worms). The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in freshwater sources (lakes, rivers, ponds). There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.
- Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
- Risk of developing travellers' diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor standards of hygiene and sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
- The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.
Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher for children, travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives or travelling for a long period of time. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should speak to a health care provider about vaccination.
Insects and Illness
In some areas in West Africa, certain insects carry and spread diseases like African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), chikungunya, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, dengue fever, leishmaniasis, lymphatic filariasis, malaria, onchocerciasis, Rift Valley fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever and Zika virus.
Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.
- Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.
- The risk of dengue is higher during the daytime, particularly at sunrise and sunset.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine or medication that protects against dengue fever.
Rift Valley fever
Rift Valley fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases, it can be fatal. It is spread to humans through contact with infected animal blood or tissues, eating or drinking unpasteurized dairy, or from a mosquito bite. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Protect yourself from bites and avoid infected animals and unpasteurized dairy. There is no vaccine available for Rift Valley fever.
- There is a risk of malaria throughout the year in the whole country.
- Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no vaccine against malaria.
- Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in enclosed air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider pre-treating clothing and travel gear with insecticides and sleeping under an insecticide-treated bednet.
- See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss the benefits of taking antimalarial medication and to determine which one to take.
Animals and Illness
Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in West Africa, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.
HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
High risk activities include anything which puts you in contact with blood or body fluids, such as unprotected sex and exposure to unsterilized needles for medications or other substances (for example, steroids and drugs), tattooing, body-piercing or acupuncture.
Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.
For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.
Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.
High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.
Medical services and facilities
Medical facilities are limited, especially outside of Bamako. Medical services usually require immediate cash payment.
Keep in Mind...
The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.
Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.
Laws and culture
Laws & culture
You are subject to local laws. See Arrest and detention for more information.
An international driving permit is recommended.
Illegal or restricted activities
Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and heavy fines.
Although homosexual activity is not a criminal offence, it may be considered contrary to accepted standards of behaviour and persons may face sanctions.
Photography of military personnel and installations is prohibited. Cultural and religious factors influence the interpretation of what subjects may be photographed. Ask permission before taking photographs.
Dress and behaviour
Mali’s customs, laws and regulations closely adhere to Islamic practices. Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect Malian religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.
During the lunar month of Ramadan (the ninth month of the Muslim calendar), use discretion when drinking, eating, and smoking in public between sunrise and sunset. In 2017, Ramadan is expected to begin on or around May 27.
The Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, to which Mali is signatory, restricts the export of certain Malian archaeological objects, particularly those from the Niger River Valley. Under Malian law, visitors seeking to export such items require an export authorization from the National Museum of Mali in Bamako.
The currency is the African Financial Community franc, or CFA franc (XOF). Credit cards are rarely accepted outside a few major hotels. Carry traveller’s cheques in euros or U.S. dollars. Traveller’s cheques may be exchanged at major hotels and in banks. Canadian traveller’s cheques are not widely accepted. Banks do not exchange traveller’s cheques on Saturday or Sunday. The Central Bank of West African States has a foreign exchange bureau on Koulikoro Road in Bamako, close to the Grand Hôtel. Exchange facilities are often slow and offer rates that are out of date.
Access to automated banking machines is limited outside of Bamako.
Natural disasters and climate
Natural disasters & climate
There are three main seasons in Mali. The rainy season, when sudden, localized floods can occur, extends from June to October. The dry, cool season extends from November to February. A dry, hot season, with temperatures reaching 45°C, extends from March to June.
Dust and sand storms are frequent.
In case of emergency, dial:
- police: 17
- medical assistance: 15
- firefighters: 18
Bamako - Embassy of Canada
For emergency consular assistance, call the Embassy of Canada to Mali in Bamako and follow the instructions. At any time, you may also contact the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa.
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad. In the event of a large-scale emergency, every effort will be made to provide assistance. However, there may be constraints that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide services.
See Large-scale emergencies abroad for more information.
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