SAFETY AND SECURITY
There is a high threat from terrorism in Kenya. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including in places frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.
The most recent attacks in Kenya include:
A suicide car bomb attack on a hotel near Mombasa on 28 November 2002, in which at least 15 people died.
An unsuccessful attempt to shoot down an Israeli charter plane on the same day.
These incidents highlight the threat posed by terrorism in Kenya and the capacity of terrorist groups to carry out attacks.
You should avoid travelling at night and remain vigilant at all times, particularly on the roads that link Nairobi city centre to residential areas. You should avoid stopping at the side of the road and should drive defensively, with vehicle doors locked and windows closed at all times.
Muggings and armed attacks by gangs can occur at any time, particularly in Nairobi and Mombasa. Avoid walking around after dark as attacks can occur anywhere, but especially in isolated areas such as empty beaches. There have been a number of armed attacks on golf courses around Nairobi, be extra vigilant while playing in remote areas away from the Club House of any golf courses. Be alert at all times. Do not accept food or drink from strangers as it may be drugged. Only stay in tourist camps with good perimeter security. If in doubt, seek advice from your tour operator or the Kenya Tourist Federation (Tel: + 254 20 604730). Do not carry valuables or wear jewellery in public places. Do not carry credit cards or cash cards unless you must: people have been forced by thieves to withdraw cash. Beware of thieves posing as police officers; always ask to see identification.
There are many deprived areas in Nairobi, not normally frequented by tourists. You should avoid visiting such areas, which include Kibera, Mathare, Huruma, Kariobangi and Kawangware.
On 4-5 June 2007 in the Mathare slum area of Nairobi, more than 20 people were killed in clashes between police and the local outlawed Mungiki gang. Since April 2007 Mungiki has been associated with a number of killings and acts of crime in the Mathare area and in parts of Central Province, notably Murung’a district. Whilst unlikely to affect foreigners you should avoid the Mathare area.
If you travel to remote areas or border regions you could be the target of attacks or kidnappings. Incidents of armed car-hijackings are more prevalent in Nairobi and Mombasa but can occur in any area of the country. Do not attempt to escape from hijackers or resist their demands (See Local Travel for more information).
You should take sensible precautions for your personal and vehicle safety, travelling in convoy in remote areas.
Kenya Country Profile
Presidential election results continue to be disputed, which has led to violent protests since the election result was announced on 30 December 2007National security forces have been deployed in the worst affected areas of the country. Two MPs from the opposition ODM party have been killed since 29 January 2008, which led to violent outbreaks in Nairobi, Eldoret and Kericho.
You should exercise caution and seek advice locally before travelling. If you are involved in any security incident you should insist with both the Kenyan authorities and your tour operator that the British High Commission be informed straight away.
Election related concerns
A number of areas of Kenya are experiencing violent unrest following the disputed presidential election result and may be prone to further outbreaks. The security and political situation in the country remains unpredictable. You should avoid all public gatherings and large public meetings. Any rallies, even if advertised as peaceful, could potentially turn violent.
If you are currently in Kenya you should exercise extreme caution and seek advice locally either from your tour operator or the local authorities, particularly if you need to travel. The Kenya government has reported that more than 850 Kenyan nationals have been killed since the disturbances began in December 2007.
British High Commission officials continue to monitor the situation and this travel advice will be updated at regular intervals. We are working closely with the Kenyan authorities and are doing what we can to ensure that as many British nationals as possible across the country are aware of our travel advice and British High Commission contact details. The British High Commission emergency lines are open. The emergency numbers are 00 254 20 2844 660/661/662/663/664/665/666.
Some tour operators are cancelling forthcoming holidays to Kenya. You should contact your tour operator for confirmation of this. International flights continue to operate but some airlines are reducing scheduled flights. You should check with your airline before travelling to the airport. We are not aware of any incidents on the airport road to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) or on the road between JKIA and Wilson airport. The situation remains fluid and may change quickly.
There has been sporadic, serious unrest in parts of Kenya, particularly in urban centres, following the announcement of the presidential election results on 30 December 2007. National security forces have been deployed across the country to the main trouble spots.
Intermittent shortages of food and fuel supplies are being reported in many parts of the country as supermarkets and petrol stations close in response to disturbances or supply disruption. Roads are generally open but you may find sporadic closures or blockades, in line with the pattern of local violent incidents. You should seek local advice, particularly in the western provinces.
We advise against all but essential travel to areas of Kenya that have experienced violent unrest following the disputed presidential election result and may be prone to more outbreaks. These areas are:
Western and Nyanza Provinces
We advise against all but essential travel to Western and Nyanza Provinces. Since 30 December 2007 there have been outbreaks of violence in the rural areas of these Province. Tensions remain very high in the towns and there is a visible police presence in Kisumu. Sustained outbursts of violence have been reported in Kisumu, and sporadic violence in Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Migori and Homa Bay.
Rift Valley Province
We advise against all but essential travel to the districts of Nakuru (including Naivasha and Lake Nakuru and Lake Naivasha National Parks), Turkana Central, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Uasin Gichu, Koibatek, Nandi, Bomet and Narok district north of and including the town of Narok. The risks around visits to the national parks of Amboseli, Masai Mara and Samburu are no greater than usual. However we advise against all but essential travel to the Masai Mara by road in Kenya as transit is through the town of Narok.
There were violent clashes on 24-28 January in Nakuru and Naivasha and on 31 January there were reports of rioting and civil unrest in Rift Valley towns of Kericho & Eldoret, after an MP for the opposition ODM party was killed in Eldoret.
There is a visible police presence in Eldoret. The army has also been deployed in logistical support of the police in and around Nakuru and Naivasha and roads in this area remain sporadically blocked.
We advise against all but essential travel to the worst-affected areas of Nairobi, including all township or slum areas, which are experiencing constant tension and periodic, unpredictable violent unrest. The worst incidents have been seen in Kibera, Mathare, Huruma, Kariobangi, Kawangware, and Eastleigh. There have also been incidents in the city centre, especially in and around Uhuru Park.
On 23 January there were violent clashes in Limuru, just outside Nairobi, with further violent clashes on 29 January, when an MP for the opposition ODM party was killed in Nairobi, with the worst affected areas being Kibera, Embakasi, Kawangware, Ngong Road and Naivasha Road.
We advise against all but essential travel to Mombasa town.
There is a visible police presence in Mombasa, tensions remain high in the deprived areas around Mombasa town and in the town centre spontaneous demonstrations have sometimes turned violent.
Election related concerns
British High Commission officials continue to monitor the situation and this travel advice will be updated at regular intervals. We are working closely with the Kenyan authorities and are doing what we can to ensure that as many British nationals as possible across the country are aware of our travel advice and British High Commission contact details. If you are currently in Kenya you should exercise extreme caution and seek advice locally either from your tour operator or the local authorities, particularly if you need to travel.
You should avoid all political gatherings and large public meetings. Such gatherings, even if advertised as peaceful, could potentially turn violent. If you are in affected areas, you should stay indoors except in the event of an emergency.
There has been sporadic, serious unrest in parts of Kenya, particularly in urban centres, following the announcement of the presidential election results. Since 30 December there have been violent outbreaks across Nairobi, Mombasa and in towns and rural areas in Western, Nyanza and Rift Valley Provinces.There were violent clashes in Limuru, just outside Nairobi, on 23 January, violent clashes on 24-28 January in Nakuru and Naivasha On 31 January there have been reports of rioting and civil unrest in Rift Valley towns of Kericho & Eldoret.
The Kenya government has reported that more than 700 Kenyan nationals have been killed in the disturbances.
National security forces have been deployed across the country to the main trouble spots. There is a visible police presence across Nairobi and other major urban centres including Mombasa, Kisumu and Eldoret. The army is being deployed in logistical support of the police in and around Nakuru and Naivasha but roads remain sporadically blocked.
General shortages of food and fuel supplies are being reported in many parts of the country as supermarkets and petrol stations remain closed. International and domestic flights are currently operating normally but some airlines are reducing scheduled flights. You should check with your airline before travelling to the airport. Roads are generally now open but you may find sporadic closures or blockades, in line with the pattern of local violent incidents. You should seek local advice, particularly in the western provinces.
Non-election related concerns
An explosion took place outside a restaurant on Moi Avenue in Nairobi city centre on 11 June 2007. The cause of the explosion is not known but one person died and over 30 were injured. As in any other major city, you should remain vigilant of suspicious packages and vehicles at all times.
Most visits to game reserves and other tourist areas are trouble-free. Robberies of visitors to game parks, including the Masai Mara have occasionally been reported. If you wish to visit reserves you should use reputable tour operators and arrive at your destination in daylight hours. You are strongly advised not to buy safari tours from touts but only through reputable agencies or from your hotel.
A British tourist was accidentally killed in a game park in 2006. You should always follow park regulations and wardens' advice, but be aware that there are risks associated with viewing wildlife, particularly on foot or at close range. Bathing in rivers and lakes is forbidden in National Parks and is best avoided elsewhere due to the dangers from both wildlife and from water-borne disease.
Rural areas, and in particular the arid north and north eastern parts of Kenya experience sporadic cattle rustling, banditry and ethnic clashes which regularly cause fatalities. A land dispute in the Mount Elgon area of Western province has caused over 140 deaths since December 2006. Whilst foreigners are not usually the targets of this type of violence and banditry, travel in the north and north east should only be undertaken with care and after seeking the advice of the police and in convoy with at least two vehicles to ensure back-up. You should be alert and avoid demonstrations and gatherings of people in these areas, which could turn violent. You should also seek local advice if intending to travel in the area of Mount Elgon.
Clashes between a criminal gang Mungiki and police since April 2007 have killed several people in parts of Central province, notably Murung’a, and the Mathare slum area in Nairobi. Whilst unlikely to affect foreigners you should avoid these areas.
The border with Somalia has been closed since 3 January 2007. In addition landmines have in the past been used in attacks around Moyale, close to the main A2 road south. Vehicles crossing the Kenya-Ethiopia border at this point should stay on the A2, avoid staying at the rest house at Sololo, and travel directly to Marsabit Town before breaking the journey.
You should, if possible visit Lamu Island by air. This is for security reasons and also because of the bad road conditions. Buses and other vehicles on the road to Lamu have been attacked by armed robbers in the past and overland travel from Lamu to Malindi should only be undertaken in an armed police convoy.
There have been reports of roads around the country being blocked and some violent incidents along roads during the unrest following the disputed Presidential election. Most are now open, although there are sporadic reports of new blockades. You should seek local advice before travelling.
A UK driving licence is sufficient in Kenya. Only hire vehicles from reputable companies.
Take care if driving, especially at night, as road conditions and driving standards are often poor. You are advised to avoid driving at night wherever possible.
There have been a number of serious accidents involving Kenyan long-distance bus services. Vehicles are often poorly maintained, and driven at excessive speed even on poorly maintained roads. Check with any bus operator on the standards they observe before using this form of transport. Another common form of public transport is the matatu, usually a minibus plying a specific route. Though very cheap to use, matatus are notorious for being poorly maintained, badly driven and in some instances do not have proper insurance cover. There are frequent reports of matatus being hijacked, or of passengers being robbed. You are advised to think carefully before using matatus.
The main types of incident for which British nationals require consular assistance in Kenya are road accidents and muggings (five and eight cases respectively in 2006).
First and second class sleeping compartments area available on the Nairobi-Mombasa train. Doors can only be locked from the inside. If you are leaving your compartment, it is advisable to take your valuables with you. Several British nationals have recently reported that their passports have been stolen whilst travelling on this train.
We are concerned about the lack of security arrangements in place at Wilson airport in Nairobi. The airport is mainly used for domestic flights, including charters. Concerns have been raised with the Kenyan authorities. We continue to monitor the situation. You should remain vigilant at all times.
The Kenyan government has confirmed that there was a security incident at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on 8 June 2006. Individuals in possession of high-level airport security passes are reported to have drawn unauthorised firearms on airport officials. No member of the public was involved or injured in the incident, and the individuals responsible were subsequently arrested and deported. The Kenyan government has established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the matter. We urge all nationals travelling through Kenyans airports to remain vigilant.
If you plan to charter a private aircraft, you are advised to check with the company's Safety Pilot about the condition of the aircraft and runways to be used. If the company has no Safety Pilot, seek another that does.