The study so far has demonstrated that, on the whole, DFAT is more cautious (stricter or more rigorous) than the BFO in its travel warnings for all but the most inherently deadly destinations. This principle holds very clearly for:
- nine of thirteen destinations in Asia, including Turkey and the Caucasus
- eight of eleven destinations in Saharan Africa and the Horn
- extremely poorly-skilled, largely illiterate populations
- extreme comparative disadvantage in skill-intensive and capital-intensive industries
- Enriched World farm subsidies that disadvantage their advantageous farming sectors and
- political corruption
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Kenya|
- the northeastern al-Shabāb hotbed gets the highest “Do Not Travel” warning from DFAT, but only “advice against all but essential travel” from the BFO)
- the area with a travel warning in Mandera, Wajir and Garissa Counties not only has a higher level warning from DFAT, but extends further from Somalia than in the BFO map.
- the main highway into Ethiopia from Isiolo has a DFAT “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” warning but nothing from the BFO
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Uganda|
Again we see that DFAT provides a stricter warning than the BFO. The areas on the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo – which include many of Uganda’s major tourist attractions like the “Mountains of the Moon” (Rwenzori Mountains) – are listed as “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” by DFAT but are not specially listed by the BFO. Even areas bordering South Sudan, which are given a maximal “Do Not Travel” by DFAT as far as fifty kilometres from the border.
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for South Sudan|
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Burundi|
“travel outside Bujumbura is not recommended”
Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaïre):
|BFO (top) and DFAT (bottom) travel advisory map for the DRC|
Poor correlations between ethnic groups and colonially enforced boundaries have made it difficult for subsequent governments to accept people living in remote areas distant from Kinshasa and which, as the old Lonely Planet East Africa pointed out vigorously, “had much more in common with Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda with western Zaïre” (probably not Lonely Planet’s exact words but one still gains an idea).
The Democratic Republic of the Congo constitutes a difficult case for comparing BFO and DFAT travel advisories because unlike any other nation so far, the gradients of warning (lowest to highest; reddest colours) are different. There is, it is true, a very clear pattern of higher levels of warning in the east of the country within the Rift Valley than in the west on the Congo Craton. However, to an extent unseen anywhere else, here, were see major and seemingly incoherent differences between the BFO and DFAT travel warnings for the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are almost completely absent in other nations we have studied:
- as it typical, DFAT gives a “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” for most of the DRC, whereas BFO gives “See Our Travel Advice Before Travelling” (no warning) for over half the DRC
- however, in southeastern DRC, BFO gives a stern “Advise Against All Travel” for the provinces of Maniema, Tanganyika and Haut-Lomami, whereas DFAT is still at “Reconsider Your Need to Travel”
- in the border regions with the crisis-torn Central African Republic, DFAT remains at “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” whereas BFO again gives the stern “Advise Against All Travel”
Central African Republic:
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for the Central African Republic|
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Chad|
Again, we see a major difference between the BFO and DFAT travel warnings, with DFAT much more severe. Southern Chad, except for dangerous border regions, is listed as “Advise Against All but Essential Travel” by BFO, as is the oasis city of Faya, but all of Chad is “Do Not Travel” in DFAT except for the capital N‘Djamena.
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Angola|
Today, Angola has quietened, and is relatively safe for travellers.
As we can see, the DFAT travel warning is again stricter than the BFO, if less so than for many other nations. The only difference in angola is that Lunda Sul Province, near the border with the DRC, gets a “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” from DFAT but “See Our Travel Advice before Travelling” from the BFO.
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Cameroon|
What’s notable about Cameroon is that, although there are three different ratings within the country, the BFO and DFAT ratings are almost exactly the same (which we have seen previously only with blanket “Avoid All Travel”/“Do Not Travel” nations). The sole exception is a small sliver of the North Region which is very hard to see on the BFO map as merely “Advise Against All but Essential Travel”.
The smallness of the differences means Cameroon would need to be scored a “0” because they are just so unimportant – I overlooked them on looking for days!
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Nigeria|
Nigeria constitutes another familiar case of stricter DFAT travel warnings vis-à-vis those given by BFO. Indeed in most of Plateau State, BFO says “see out travel advice before travelling” yet DFAT says the stern “Do Not Travel”, the only case I have noted so far of so large a difference.
Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta):
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Burkina Faso|
Burkina Faso is distinctly rare: the DFAT travel warning is less severe than the BFO. The BFO has the highest “Avoid All Travel” for all of the border with Mali and easternmost border with Niger in Tapoa District, whereas DFAT has “Do Not Travel” only for
“All areas north of a line Tougan-Ouhigouya-Djibo-Dori”
Cote d‘Ivoire (formerly Ivory Coast):
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Cote d‘Ivoire|
Being far from centres of Muslim terrorism, Cote d‘Ivoire is relatively safe, but still there is a problem of armed militias in the forested areas near the Liberian border.
As you should see, there is no difference between BFO and DFAT warnings here: the southwestern regions of Dix-Huit Montagnes, Haut-Sassandra, Moyen-Cavally and Bas-Sassandra have the second highest warning of “Reconsider Your Need to Travel” or “Advise Against All but Essential Travel”, the rest is the next lowest “Exercise a High Degree of Caution” or “See Our Travel Advice Before Travelling”.
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Mali|
As can be seen, Mali is similar to Burkina Faso in that the BFO warnings are in part at a higher level than those of DFAT. The highest warning of “Advise Against All Travel” extends further south in Kayes and Koulikiro Regions than does the DFAT warning “Do Not Travel”. On the other hand, DFAT has the highest rating for Bamako city, whereas BFO does not.
Mali would, however, unlike Burkina Faso have to score a “0” because of the difference in rating for the capital Bamako.
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Liberia|
Today Liberia has quietened somewhat, but problems still exist in the remote, hilly border areas.
As we can see, Liberia follows the normal pattern of DFAT issuing more restrictive travel advice than the BFO. The BFO has the minimal “see our travel advice before travelling” for all of Liberia, whereas DFAT says “Reconsider Your Need To Travel” for Grand Gedah and River Gee counties in the conflict zone near the border with Cote d‘Ivoire.
|BFO (left) and DFAT (right) travel advisory map for Guinea|
Conclusions for Sub-Saharan Africa:With the exception of Burkina Faso, where British Foreign Office travel warnings are stricter than those provided by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, sub-Saharan Africa continues the pattern of Asia and Saharan Africa in that DFAT warnings are consistently stricter than those of the BFO.
Out of fifteen destinations examined in sub-Saharan Africa, DFAT’s travel advice is more cautious (severe or restrictive, higher levels of warning) in eight, viz:
- parts of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mali
Thus, the DFAT versus BFO score for sub-Saharan Africa is +7 of a possible +15, which is less than the +9 out of +13 for Asia and +7 out of +11 for Saharan Africa and the Horn. This lower value might reflect poorer quality information due to the extreme poverty of tropical Africa, or simply fewer informants to rely upon for data.
Nonetheless, sub-Saharan Africa together with Saharan Africa and Asia adds up to a possible +21 out of +39 – over fifty percent – for higher levels of travel warning by DFAT compared to the BFO (although it is false that most localities have different DFAT and BFO advisory levels).