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Summary

  • Do not travel to northern regions of Mali (Kidal, Timbuktu, Gao, Mopti and the area of Segou north of the Niger River) or to the capital city of Bamako, or to areas north of the latitude of Diema because of the extremely unpredictable security situation, and the high threat of kidnapping, terrorism and banditry.
  • Reconsider your need to travel to the southern part of Mali including in the region of Segou south of the Niger River, or to the regions of Kayes, Koulikoro and Sikasso (with the exception of Bamako and areas north of the latitude of Diema) due to the threat of kidnapping, terrorism and banditry.
  • On 14 August 2017, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a patrol in Douentza, killing a UN peacekeeper and a Malian soldier. A separate attack on a UN base in Timbuktu resulted in seven fatalities, including five Malian security guards, a civilian and a gendarme (paramilitary officer).
  • The Malian Government reintroduced a State of Emergency on 4 April 2016. This has been extended until 31 October 2017. Expect a robust security presence, including police patrols and possible police security checks on restaurants and hotels. There are likely to be more vehicle and personal security checks while the State of Emergency remains in place.
  • Travellers are reminded of the high threat of terrorist attacks in Mali. Possible targets include hotels and restaurants frequented by foreigners.
  • There has been a sharp increase in terrorist attacks in Mali since early 2015, particularly in southern and central Mali. Most attacks have been directed against Malian police and security forces, but some have targeted venues frequented by foreigners. Numerous attacks have taken place in Bamako. See Safety and security.
  • On 3 October 2017, the US Government informed its citizens of a continued threat of attacks against hotels, restaurants, and bars frequented by Westerners, particularly in the cities of Bamako and Gao, Mali. On 9 June 2017, the US Government warned of a possible increased threat of attacks against Western diplomatic missions, places of worship, and other locations in Bamako where Westerners frequent. Avoid vulnerable locations with poor security measures in place, including hotels, restaurants, bars and churches. See Safety and security.
  • Demonstrations occur regularly in Bamako and can turn violent. Avoid political rallies, protests and large gatherings.
  • Ensure you have robust security arrangements in place. Maintain contingency plans and be prepared to leave at short notice if necessary, including by having up-to-date travel documentation.
  • There is an ongoing high threat of kidnapping against foreigners in Mali, including in the south. See our Kidnapping threat bulletin.
  • The risk of armed banditry is high in Mali, especially in the northern provinces and in border areas.
  • Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Mali. The Canadian Embassy in Bamako provides consular assistance to Australians in Mali. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents. The Australian High Commission in Ghana can also assist Australians in Mali. If the security situation in Mali deteriorates, the ability of the Candian Embassy in Bamako to provide consular services to Australian citizens may be limited.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact the nearest Embassy of Mali for up-to-date information.

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists Mali as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a serious and potentially fatal disease preventable by vaccination. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to Mali and on exit from the country. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Ensure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia.

Safety and security

A State of Emergency was introduced in April 2016 and has been extended until 31 October 2017. Expect a robust security presence including police patrols and possible police security checks on restaurants and hotels. There are likely to be more vehicle and personal security checks during this period. When visiting Mali, always take heightened security precautions.

Following a military coup, and a rebel takeover of northern provinces, including Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu in 2012, France and a number of African countries deployed troops to Mali in 2013. The African-led International Support Mission in Mali transitioned to a UN peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) on 1 July 2013. Despite the ongoing presence of French and UN forces, northern and central Mali remain volatile.

The Malian government signed a peace agreement with key rebels in June 2015. Despite this, the political and security situation remains unpredictable and could deteriorate with little warning. ​

Terrorism

There has been a sharp increase in terrorist attacks in Mali since early 2015. Terrorist targets could include places identified with foreign interests, including embassies, international schools, mining operations and venues frequented by expats such as restaurants and hotels.    

On 3 October 2017, the US Government informed its citizens of a continued threat of attacks against hotels, restaurants, and bars frequented by Westerners, particularly in the cities of Bamako and Gao, Mali. On 9 June 2017, the United States Government warned of a possible increased threat of attacks against Western diplomatic missions, places of worship, and other locations in Bamako where Westerners frequent. Avoid vulnerable locations with poor security measures in place, including hotels, restaurants, bars and churches.

While the security situation in northern Mali, Bamako and areas bordering Mauritania has been dangerous and volatile for some time, a number of recent attacks in southern and central Mali point to a deteriorating security environment in the south.

Most of the recent attacks have targeted security forces and MINUSMA peacekeepers, but some have targeted venues frequented by expatriates.

Recent terrorist incidents include:

  • On 14 August 2017, a UN peacekeeper and a Malian soldier were killed after gunmen opened fire on a patrol in Douentza. Seven people, including five Malian security guards, a civilian and a gendarme, were killed in a separate attack on a UN base in Timbuktu.
  • On 18 June 2017, five people were killed in an attack on a tourist resort east of Bamako.
  • On 8 June 2017, three UN peacekeepers were killed in an attack on a UN base in Kidal.
  • On 7 May 2017, seven Malian soldiers were killed and seven others were wounded in an attack on a military position in Almoustrat.
  • On 3 May 2017, a person was killed and nine peacekeepers were injured in an attack on a UN base at Timbuktu airport.
  • On 18 April 2017, Malian soldiers were killed and wounded when a terrorist group captured a military barracks in Tagharoust, 150km south of Timbuktu.
  • On 25 March 2017, three Malian soldiers were killed and four reported wounded in an attack on an army checkpoint 150km from Gao.
  • On 18 January 2017, a bomb attack on a military base in Gao killed more than 70 people.
  • On 19 July 2016, 17 people were killed and 35 injured in an attack by armed terrorist groups on a Malian army base in Nampala, Segou district.
  • On 21 March 2016, a small arms and grenade attack was carried out on the EU Training Mission headquarters at the Hotel Nord Sud, Bamako.
  • On 12 February 2016, several peacekeepers were killed in an attack on a UN base in Kidal.
  • On 5 February 2016, a small arms attack on a UN base in Timbuktu resulted in the death of a Malian security forces officer and several attackers.

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. See our Terrorist threat worldwide bulletin.

Kidnapping

There is a high threat of kidnapping against foreigners in Mali, including in the south. A number of terrorist groups are active in Mali and have the intent and capability to kidnap foreigners. Criminal gangs have also carried out kidnappings for terrorist groups in return for financial reward. Foreigners, western mining interests, aid workers and long-term residents of Mali are possible targets.

There have been many recent incidents of foreigners, including Australians, being kidnapped in Mali. On 7 February 2017, a Colombian national was kidnapped in southern Mali, approximately 300km from Bamako. On 25 December 2016, a French aid worker was kidnapped in Gao, northern Mali. In addition to these most recent incidents, between 2012 and 2017, several French, Swiss and Algerian citizens were kidnapped in Mali. Some were killed.  

Given the ongoing high threat of kidnapping, Australians in Mali, including in the south, should seek professional security advice and have appropriate personal security measures in place.

The Australian Government's longstanding policy is that it does not make payments or concessions to kidnappers. The Australian Government considers that paying a ransom increases the risk of further kidnappings, including of other Australians. For more information about kidnapping, see our Kidnapping threat worldwide bulletin.

Civil unrest/political tension

Demonstrations occur regularly in Bamako and can quickly turn violent. Avoid political rallies, protests and large gatherings. If you are in an area where a protest is occurring, leave if it is safe to do so. Otherwise, remain indoors and away from the windows.

Military clashes with armed rebel and terrorist groups continue to occur in northern regions.

Take robust security arrangements and maintain contingency plans to ensure you are prepared to leave at short notice if necessary. This should include having up-to-date travel documentation

The situation in northern Mali remains highly volatile. Night time checkpoints and road blocks are common and curfews can be imposed with little notice. Keep vehicle and personal identification documents with you at all times when travelling by road. Approach security checkpoints slowly and comply with instructions.

Avoid areas of sensitivity, such as government facilities and military installations.

Senou International Airport in Bamako is operating normally. A vehicle checkpoint is regularly in place at the main entrance to the airport. Expect your vehicle to be searched and ensure all occupants, including the driver, are carrying personal identification. Flight schedules may be subject to change or cancellation with little warning.

Crime

Petty crime such as pickpocketing and theft are common in urban areas of Mali.

In the north of the country, armed banditry, kidnapping and carjacking occur. Four-wheel drive vehicles are often targeted. Bandits are active in all remote areas of the country.

Commercial and internet fraud is prevalent and often originates in West African countries. Victims have been defrauded and those who travel to the originating country have had their lives endangered. Some victims have been killed. Criminals have been known to seek details of 'safe' bank accounts overseas in which to transfer large sums of money (as a donation or for a percentage of the amount involved). They may also provide fake cashier cheques for 'urgent' shipments of large quantities of goods, request sizeable fees for a fake government contract and extort money from individuals they have convinced to travel to Africa for a business opportunity. If you are a victim of a financial scam, obtain legal advice. Do not to travel to Africa to seek restitution as there is a risk of physical assault from the perpetrators. Our Scams page provides more detail on these types of scams.

Bogus internet friendship, dating and marriage schemes are operating from some African countries, including Mali. These scams typically result from connections made through internet dating sites or chat rooms. Once a virtual friendship develops, the Australian citizen may be asked by their friend or prospective marriage partner to send money to enable travel to Australia. In some cases the relationship is terminated with very little chance that any funds can be recovered. In other cases, foreigners may be lured to Africa to meet their friend or prospective marriage partner and can become victims of crime including kidnapping, assault and robbery.

Money and valuables

There are limited ATM facilities in Mali. Some credit cards are accepted in major hotels in Bamako. Credit cards are rarely accepted outside of Bamako. Travellers cheques can be exchanged at major banks.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Keep it in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport online, or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

Local travel

Landmines and improvised explosive devices have been used in the north and north east of Mali.

Given the prevailing security environment, avoid public transport. Road travel should only be considered if adequate security precautions are put in place. Driving at night is particularly dangerous as most roads are in poor condition. Driving conditions deteriorate further in the rainy season (June to September).

Air safety

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety in Mali.

Refer also to our general Air travel page for information on aviation safety and security.

Laws

You are subject to the local laws of Mali, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail. Research laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are severe and can include heavy fines and lengthy terms of imprisonment in local jails. Other serious offences, including murder, sedition and spying, carry the death penalty.

It is illegal to photograph military zones, military assets and/or military personnel, transportation facilities and government buildings.

Homosexual activity is not explicitly illegal in Mali, but may be considered 'contrary to accepted standards of behaviour', which is a criminal offence subject to a prison term of up to two years. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Written authorisation from the National Museum in Bamako is required for the purchase and/or removal of archaeological objects from Mali.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas can be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians can be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years' imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Local customs

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is expected to occur between mid-May and mid-June 2018. During Ramadan, take care to respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. In particular, avoid eating, drinking and smoking in public and in the presence of people who are fasting. More information: Ramadan

There are strong Islamic codes of dress and behaviour in Mali. Take care not to offend.

Information for dual nationals

While the Government of Mali recognises dual nationality, officials may place restrictions on the ability of Australian officials to provide consular assistance to Australian/Malian dual nationals if they are detained or arrested. Travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Australian/Malian dual nationals may be liable for civil/military obligations. If you are a dual national, check with the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Mali before you travel.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

Take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. Get vaccinated before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our Health pages also provide useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities in Bamako are very limited and even more basic in rural areas. Local medical expertise is limited and there are very limited burns and mortuary facilities. Medical staff have limited English language skills. Upfront payment is usually required before commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities will be necessary. Medical evacuation costs can be considerable.

Health risks

Malaria is common in West African countries, including Mali. Other mosquito-borne diseases (including dengue fever) also occur. Consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and take measures to avoid insect bites. Use insect repellent and wear long, loose-fitting, light-coloured clothing. Ensure your accommodation is mosquito-proof.

Mali is listed by the World Health Organization (WHO) as endemic for yellow fever. Yellow fever is a potentially fatal viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes, which is preventable by vaccination. A valid yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for entry to Mali and on exit from the country. For more information about yellow fever, including Australian re-entry requirements, see the Department of Health website.

Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, cholera, hepatitis, meningitis and tuberculosis) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water. Avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to g​et help

Depending on the nature of your enquiry, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

If the matter relates to criminal issues, contact the local police. Malian authorities have provided the following Malian Central Police numbers for emergency assistance: 2023 9511; 8000 1114; 8000 1115; 2022 1335; 2023 9515.

The Consular Services Charter explains what the Australian Government can and can't do to assist Australians overseas.

Australia does not have an embassy or consulate in Mali. By agreement between the Canadian and Australian governments, the Canadian Embassy in Bamako provides consular assistance to Australians in Mali. This service includes the issuance of Provisional Travel Documents.

If the security situation in Mali deteriorates further, the ability of the Candian Embassy in Bamako to provide consular services to Australian citizens may be limited.

The contact details for the Candian Embassy in Bamako are:

Canadian Embassy, Bamako

Immeuble Semega
Route de Koulikoro
Bamako, Mali
Telephone: +223 20 212 236
Facsimile: +223 20 214 362
Email: bmakog@international.gc.ca
Website: canadainternational.gc.ca/mali

You can also obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission in Accra, Ghana.

Australian High Commission, Accra

2, Second Rangoon Close
(cnr Josef Broz Tito Ave)
Cantonments, Accra
Ghana
Telephone: +233 302 216 400
Facsimile: +233 302 216 410
Email: AccraHC.Enquiries@dfat.gov.au
Website: ghana.highcommission.gov.au

See the High Commission website for more information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you are unable to contact the above Embassy or High Commission in a consular emergency, you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Natural disasters, severe weather and climate

Flooding may occur during the rainy season from June to September. If a natural disaster occurs, follow the advice of local authorities.

Additional Resources