Expats travelling to Mozambique are advised to exercise caution. The country is known to experience waves of crime and political tension. To make matters worse, the Mozambique Police Force (PRM) isn’t very trustworthy. It suffers from limited resources, lack of personnel and widespread corruption. Police are underfunded, understaffed, poorly trained and poorly equipped. Expats should therefore keep up with current affairs in the country and remain vigilant.
Crime in Mozambique
Petty theft is common in Mozambique, especially in the capital, Maputo. Foreigners are often targets due to their perceived wealth. Most crimes against foreigners are non-violent crimes of opportunity. Pickpocketing, theft of unattended possessions and bag-snatching are common.
Thieves often attempt to distract victims by asking questions, begging for money, bumping against individuals or offering to sell items. This kind of distraction may give an accomplice the opportunity to take luggage or pick the victim’s pocket. People walking alone, especially at night, with bags or purses are typical targets. Expats should take precautions by keeping their valuables locked up at home.
It's also important to be vigilant on the roads. Criminals will often impersonate police and pull motorists over and then proceed to rob them of valuables.
In recent years, there has been a spike in kidnappings. The goal of kidnappers is to receive a ransom payment. Expats should avoid walking alone at night and be aware of their surroundings. 'Virtual kidnapping' has also become more prevalent. Text messages and phone calls from unknown numbers claiming to have kidnapped family members are common.
Terrorism and conflict in Mozambique
Mozambique has seen a worrying rise in terrorism. Loose security protocols, lack of capacity, and corruption-related issues in the police services also exacerbate terrorism threats. There have been violent extremist attacks in the northern province that borders Tanzania.
In Maputo, there is a moderate risk of terrorism. However, the regional and international terrorist threat is growing, especially in the northern parts of Mozambique. The expansion of Al-Shabab in eastern Africa, coupled with the recent rise of ISIS globally is of growing concern. In recent years, Mozambique has experienced several reputedly Al-Shabaab-related attacks, particularly in the north of the country.
The risk of civil unrest in Maputo has declined since the signing of the 2016 ceasefire agreement. However, political tension does occasionally flair up in Mozambique. It is therefore important to stay informed and keep up to date with the news. Expats should avoid demonstrations and public gatherings, as they can turn violent.
Road safety in Mozambique
One of the greatest personal safety threats in Mozambique is motor vehicles. Expats should exercise caution when near roads or cars. There is a lack of streetlights, stop signs, traffic signals, sidewalks and guardrails. This, combined with potholes and unpaved road surfaces, increases the risk of injury or death on the roads. Local drivers may also have little consideration for pedestrians and other road users.
During the rainy season, mud, deep puddles and flooding add to the dangers of the roads. Roads and bridges frequently wash out during this time of year.
If there is an accident on the road, a large crowd may gather and could become hostile and aggressive. If this happens, expats are advised to get away from the scene and to contact local police or their embassy.
Health safety in Mozambique
Mozambique is a malaria zone. Malarial prophylaxis is essential when travelling to the country. Expats should consult their doctor before visiting Mozambique. During summer, the threat of malaria is worse. Expats should therefore take the necessary precautions, such as preventative medicine and insect repellent.
All tap water is assumed to be unsafe to drink. This is especially true the further one goes from the capital. Tap water in Mozambique carries the threat of bilharzia and cholera. Expats should therefore only drink boiled, treated or bottled water.
The recommended vaccinations when travelling to Mozambique include typhoid and hepatitis A.
Emergency numbers in Mozambique
Police: 112 or 119