Suriname Risk Report
Security travel advice for Suriname
Threat level: Medium
The current travel safety advice for Suriname is to remain extra vigilant and cautious due to the high crime rate in the country. There are no travel advisories in place, however there are areas which caution should be advised.
These areas should be avoided after dark as they have a low police presence and a history of banditry, armed robbery, burglary, pickpocketing and violent crime:
- Albina and Moengo
- East-West Highway between Paramaribo and Albina
- Paramaribo, and outlying areas
- Palm Garden (Palmentium)
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Recent Security Risk Events
There is a low threat of terrorist activity in Suriname. Dino Bouterse, the son of the President of Suriname was arrested in 2013 and charged with trying to set up terrorist training camps for Hezbollah in Latin America. Despite this, the US Government claim there is no concrete evidence to suggest major Hezbollah operations in Latin America at this time.
Dino Bouterse's arrest also highlighted internationally the corruption within or close to the government of Suriname, and also the high level involvement in drug trafficking and organised crime in the country and the region as a whole. In 2012 Suriname's legislature approved an amnesty act which will prevent a murder trial against President Bouterse, a convicted drug trafficker. This is fuelling concerns that the country could be becoming a “narco-state”.
The threat of general crime in Suriname is high. It is unsafe to walk around the main city of Paramaribo after dusk; much of the city is lawless at night. Even in daylight hours, muggings and robberies are common as well as car-jacking or theft from vehicles. It is advised to keep car doors locked when travelling, keep valuables out of sight and to only stop in safe areas. There is also a slight risk of kidnapping in Suriname and tourists are advised to remain on high alert at all times.
Demonstrations do occur: there have been many incidents which have been directed towards illegal immigrants, particularly targeting illegal Brazilian miners. The police do intervene, however the illegal operations resume once the area is clear of government officials. There are many areas of Suriname where general lawlessness is the norm. Remain cautious and avoid large public gatherings as much as possible.
Burglaries are common and have been quite blatant in the fact that even governmental buildings have been targeted. There have been a number of reports of guard dogs being poisoned allowing for armed home invasions to occur.
Citizens can be armed with hand guns, although the gun laws are stringent, criminals do have access to them and will use them. You should be cautious when travelling, especially around hotel areas as this is where foreign travellers can be targeted. Remain aware of your surroundings and do not travel alone if at all possible.
While "stable" at the moment, President Bouterse first took power in a 1980 military coup and it is thought that could happen again, possibly backed by the US as the DEA and CIA have evidence of President Bouterse's personal involvement in drug trafficking across the region.
There is an ongoing border dispute between Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname. However Suriname is a non-aligned country with no known significant enemies and it is not targeted by any known radical groups in particular.
The country's geographical location means that it is frequently subject to heaving rain between May and August and from November to February. Such weather can cause flooding, landslides and mudslides which can lead to disruption on the roads. Paramaribo has many canals and is likely to suffer; in 2006 a state emergency was called due to the disruption and the crisis stretching the country’s resources.
The road conditions are poor and the driving standards are somewhat hazardous. Moped and pedestrians have right of way, caution should be advised when travelling as there are many upon the roads. Whilst travelling always have your windows rolled up and the doors locked for your own safety. Be prepared to take evasive action at any time (leave space to manoeuvre if you need to make a quick getaway), and look for abnormal behaviour. If in the instance you believe you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station for safety - do not stop and get out.
Currency: Surinamese Dollar
Time now in Paramaribo:
Most visitors to Suriname will be given a tourist card on arrival which will provide you with a one entry tourist visa. If you plan to enter the country more than once, you should apply for a multiple-entry visa prior to arrival in the country.
Further visa information can be found here: Visa advice Suriname
It is advised that visitors to Suriname are up-to-date with primary boosters such as MMR. It is further recommended that most travellers get Tetanus, Hepatitis A and Yellow Fever vaccinations as there is a risk of infection in some areas of the country. You should check with your local health professional prior to your departure as the yellow fever vaccine is not suitable for all travellers.
Other health risks
It is advised that all visitors to Suriname take precautions against Malaria and Chikungunya virus including the use of Malaria mosquito nets and anti-Malaria medications.
The viral illness Dengue Fever which is transmitted to humans by infected mosquitoes is an issue in Suriname. There is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites by taking precautions such as wearing appropriate clothing and using a mosquito net whilst sleeping. More information can be found here: Dengue Fever facts
It is advised that the local water supply is avoided at all costs and bottled water inspected prior to consumption. The local water is often poorly filtered which can lead to waterborne illnesses. There have also been a number of cases of bottled water being refilled with tap water and re-sold.
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Flooding is an issue across the country and occurs regularly in Paramaribo during the rainy seasons which is typically between May and August. During this time there is a heightened health risk and personal hygiene should be paramount at all times, including washing your hands before and after you have eaten. Travellers should also be aware that during floods roads are prone to be washed away in rural areas.
U.S. Embassy Paramaribo
Telephone: +59 472 900
Note: The British Government do not have an embassy in Suriname but do operate a High Commission in Georgetown, Guyana. This should be your firsts point of contact should you require assistance.
British High Commission Georgetown
44 Main Street,
Telephone: +592 226 5881
Telephone: +592 225 3555
Other useful info
Police and/or Medical emergency: 115 or 47 11 11
Fire emergency: 113
Medical emergency: 110
Medical emergency: 148 (Weekend doctor)