|08ANTANANARIVO7||2008-01-07 13:36:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Antananarivo|
VZCZCXRO6561 PP RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN DE RUEHAN #0007/01 0071336 ZNR UUUUU ZZH P 071336Z JAN 08 FM AMEMBASSY ANTANANARIVO TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0831 INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 ANTANANARIVO 000007
1. OVERALL CRIME AND SAFETY SITUATION:
A. Crime occurs in Madagascar as it does in most major cities in the
world. Over the past year, Antananarivo has seen its violent crime
rate increase for the first time in several years. For the first
time in over ten years, the U.S. Embassy suffered a violent attack
in Antananarivo against two Mission employees in the summer of
B. Over the past year, the U.S. Embassy has been receiving weekly
reports of increased criminal activity in the Malagasy community and
of expats living in Antananarivo who are being targeted by armed
criminal elements. During instances of home invasion robberies, the
criminals know the occupants of the residence or have intelligence
indicating an increased amount of assets are being held in the
residence and have no problems confronting the occupants of the
residence by armed force. Many of these criminal gangs are usually
comprised of former felons, ex-military and police units from the
former regime and possess weapons such as AK-47 assault rifles and
pistols stolen from military armories during the political crisis of
C. However, the vast majority of crime that does occur in
Antananarivo is petty street crime. Thieves use stealth and surprise
to commit crimes of opportunity such as pick pocketing and "grab and
run". Petty street crime occurs during all times of the day in the
city. After dark, all Americans should avoid walking the city center
alone or departing from bars and night clubs on foot. Numerous
attacks against foreigners have occurred late at night after
departing a night club.
D. Americans visiting Madagascar should not expect to experience any
hostility or aggression because of their citizenship. In fact, with
the current government, the atmosphere for Americans is welcoming
and receptive. There are no visible signs of anti-Americanism
displayed by the press or the government of Madagascar. Americans
who visit Madagascar are encouraged to register with the Consular
Section located at the Embassy and to check with the most recent
consular information sheet on Madagascar located at
UNION OF THE COMOROS
E. The U.S. Government has no permanent presence in the Comoros. For
American Citizens Services the Consular Officer can be contacted at
the American Embassy in Antananarivo at 261 (20) 22 212 57. American
citizens who visit Comoros are encouraged to register with the
Consular section in Antananarivo. Registration can be done online at
http://travel.state.gov and travelers can also review the Consular
information sheet on the Comoros.
F. At the time of this writing, American citizens are urged to avoid
travel to the island of Anjouan. Note that this guidance only
applies to the island of Anjouan and not the other two islands of
Grand Comore and Moheli. After the decision of the Comoran Union
Government to postpone island elections on the island of Anjouan in
the summer of 2007, the former island president of Anjouan staged
his own sham election and forced federal authorities off the island
establishing a de facto separation from the Union of the Comoros.
Reporting, as of January 2007, indicated numerous illegal detentions
and harassment of prominent citizens by the rebel president's
administration on Anjouan and island residents fleeing the island to
the surrounding islands of Grand Comore and Moheli. Military
intervention by Comoran federal forces or African Union forces is
possible on the island of Anjouan. Americans are encouraged to check
the most recent consular information sheet on the Comoros located at
G. Within the islands of Grand Comore and Moheli, criminal activity
is frowned upon within the Comoran culture. Criminal acts against
foreigners are extremely rare and the Regional Security Officer
(RSO) considers the Comoros to be an extremely safe community.
However, if you are a victim of a crime you are advised not to
resist, to remain calm, and to report the incident as soon as
possible to the RSO, cell phone: (261) 33-11-392-03 or the Consular
2. POLITICAL VIOLENCE:
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A. In contrast to the crisis of 2001-2002, when a disputed election
brought Madagascar to the brink of civil war, Madagascar over the
past year has completed three successful rounds of nationwide
elections without any violence or large scale protests. All three
rounds of elections were viewed by the international community to be
free and fair. At present, very little political violence or civil
war unrest exists in Madagascar. The political process, which allows
for dissent and opposing views, appears to be stable, although
largely dominated by the president's TIM Party. Although protests
and demonstrations do occur frequently, they tend to be peaceful,
with minimal effect on the security of citizens and visitors.
However, the U.S. Embassy recommends all Americans to avoid
political gatherings and street demonstrations. In the past, there
have been instances of violence during demonstrations but these
outbursts were not directed against Americans. Certain large
gatherings such as concerts or scenes of an accident also may pose a
threat to Americans.
B. As a general rule, due to the ongoing military operations in
Afghanistan and Iraq, the continued threat of terrorist attacks
targeting western personnel and institutions, and the past terrorist
attacks in the United States, Americans overseas are encouraged to
remain vigilant to their surroundings and to exercise caution.
Americans should avoid large crowds and gatherings, keep a low
profile, and vary routes and times of all routine travel.
3. POST-SPECIFIC CONCERNS:
A. Crimes of opportunity are the most common type of incidents the
local police deal with in Madagascar. Street crime and other forms
of petty crime exist in most countries with high poverty levels, and
Madagascar is no exception. Thefts from unlocked and locked
vehicles, pick pocketing, and similar crimes are the most frequently
reported incidents involving westerners. American citizens as well
as other foreign visitors routinely report petty crime to their
Embassies in Antananarivo. Nearly all foreigners stand out among the
local population and, in so doing, are readily identifiable as
potential targets of opportunity who carry in their possession more
money, jewelry, and electronics than the average or even well off
Malagasy citizen. Therefore, street crime is the biggest threat to
American visitors coming to Madagascar.
B. Both Madagascar and the Comoros are nations prone to seasonal
cyclones (hurricanes), which can do substantial damage, particularly
in the coastal areas. Typically, the cyclone season starts in early
December and can last until mid April. In 2007, Madagascar was
effected by seven cyclones causing massive flooding in the coastal
areas and destroying numerous homes, roads and bridges.
C. The island of Grande Comore is dominated by the active volcano
Karthala. The threat of further volcanic activity, with potential to
impact the lives and livelihoods of visitors and the local
population, remains a constant and unpredictable concern.
4. POLICE RESPONSE:
A. Two organizations are charged with maintaining peace and security
in Madagascar, and are responsible for upholding its laws. The
primary organization responsible for areas of Madagascar outside of
the major cities is the Gendarmerie. The organization responsible
for Antananarivo and other cities in Madagascar is the National
Police. The U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo maintains excellent
relations with both organizations.
B. Because Madagascar is a developing country, with the majority of
the population living in extreme poverty, resources available to the
local police services are very limited. The police are unable to
respond to alarm calls or emergency calls with in a reasonable time.
The police are only able to respond to an incident within 15-45
minutes or longer due to a number of factors. When emergency
telephone calls are initiated by residents in the city of
Antananarivo, frequently the police telephones will go unanswered or
the caller will receive a busy tone. Secondly, if an emergency call
is answered, the police will usually have to meet a resident of the
household at a recognizable landmark in the neighborhood to help
guide the responding police unit to the residence requesting
assistance which increases the response time to an emergency call.
The police do not have a computerized emergency call system which
can locate the residence of a call for police services. A third
issue hampering police response is the credibility of the caller
requesting services. The police must judge the credibility of the
caller in order to determine if potential criminal elements are
ANTANANARI 00000007 003 OF 004
trying to send the police units off in the opposite direction before
a criminal raid on a residence or business begins. Normally, a
district police office in Antananarivo will have only one or two
police cars available and functioning for any type of intervention
C. In Madagascar, Military/Police roadblocks are common. At the
first sight of a roadblock, travelers should be at high state of
alert and proceed with caution when approaching a roadblock. At
these roadblocks, it is recommended that the traveler slow down (to
a crawl) and be prepared to show identification. If the driver or
any passengers of the vehicle are talking on a mobile telephone,
they should immediately terminate the call and begin following the
directions of the security forces controlling the roadblock. If the
police/military personnel indicate that they want you to stop, then
do so. Keep your windows rolled up, but show your identification. If
you find yourself the recipient of excessive attention, detention,
or harassment, to include the payment of impromptu "tolls", contact
the Embassy as soon as possible.
D. During an emergency, visitors to Antananarivo can contact local
police at telephone numbers 117 and 22-227-35 or
030-23-801-40/813-00 (cellular). Visitors can also contact the U.S.
Embassy in Antananarivo, at telephone number 22-212-57, if
assistance is needed in communicating with law enforcement
5. MEDICAL EMERGENCIES:
A. In case of a medical emergency, perform first aid and take the
patient directly to the Polyclinique D'Ilafy located in Antananarivo
22-425-73/69. Ambulance service in Antananarivo can be obtained
through Espace Medical/Ambulance at 22-625-66, 032-07-822-74 or
Polyclinique D'Ilafy at 22-425-73/69 or 033-11-458-48. The Embassy
recommends that all visitors have medical evacuation insurance
before arrival in Madagascar. Several air ambulance companies
operate out of Antananarivo. A list can be provided by contacting
the Embassy receptionist at 22-212-57. The receptionist can also
provide a list of doctors, dentists, hospitals, pharmacies, and
6. TIPS ON HOW TO AVOID BECOMING A VICTIM OF CRIME:
A. The Embassy Security Office recommends that visitors to
Madagascar take the following safety/security precautions during
their travels in Madagascar:
-Be aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded streets. If
you feel you have been targeted for criminal assault, move into the
nearest safe haven, i.e. police station, restaurant, hotel, etc.
-Carry only a minimum of valuables. If possible, leave your
valuables in a hotel safe deposit box or similar secure container.
If watches and/or jewelry must be carried, store them in concealed
or protected containers during your transit period.
-When driving or riding in a vehicle, always keep your doors locked
and the windows rolled up in order to avoid "snatch and run"
-Be cautious when purchasing from street vendors. Certain items such
as Aepyornis (a large extinct bird) eggs, gemstones, and gold are
controlled exports and can create problems upon your departure.
-If establishing a business or residential presence, consider
employing a private security service. There are several reputable
security firms in Antananarivo. Recommendations can be obtained from
the Embassy security office.
B. Because of Madagascar's poor infrastructure, sub-standard road
maintenance and lighting, inadequate communications, and lack of
repair facilities, travelers venturing outside Antananarivo should
adhere to the following:
-Use a reputable guide or tour company to assist in your travel.
-Provide an itinerary and route of travel (i.e., time/date/place of
arrival) to a trusted associate or representative.
-Travel with some type of two-way communication device such as a
cellular or satellite telephone.
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-Travel only during daylight hours.
-Bring sufficient funds, spare parts, etc. to take care of emergency
-If possible, travel with other vehicles and/or travelers.
7. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION:
A. The Consular Section urges all visitors to register with the
Embassy upon arrival or before the trip at travel.state.gov. The
Embassy is located in downtown Antananarivo at 14-16 rue Rainitovo,
Antsahavola, BP 620, telephone 261-20-22-212-57 or 22-207-18. The
Consular Section, Commercial Officer, and Regional Security Officer
(RSO) are all located at the Embassy and can be reached at the above
numbers. The web site for the U.S. Embassy in Madagascar is:
B. There is no established American Chamber of Commerce in
Madagascar. However, an Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC)
does exist. OSAC is designed to assist the American private sector
with its security and information needs overseas. The Regional
Security Officer is available to meet with representatives of U.S.
businesses visiting Madagascar to answer questions about security.