Safety in Djibouti
Safety in Djibouti Reviews
War Zone? Dec 27, 2012
I have heard it said many a time, especially coming from the US military types, that Djibouti is in a war zone. Added safety precautions are required. I have heard enlisted staff talk about the kids out in the Djibouti neighborhoods walking around with AK-47s, or about the 2 ten year olds seen at the front gate armed to the teeth--I was actually told this by two young military men who were serious.
How far from the truth is this? Well first of all French white ladies and children (from the age of being able to ride a bike) can be seen wandering their neighborhoods; which are not behind a wall. I have seen little kids riding their bikes at night-time all alone--ehhh gad that would never happen in San Antonio, Texas. Kids walk to school on their own.
All of this is the back drop of our military base that resembles a maximum security prison. Our personnel only wander outside of the 'safety' of the walls and barbed wire on escorted tours into town, but never at night.
Night time in Djibouti is pretty boring and quiet. No random sounds of gun fire, or the constant squeal of emergency vehicle as I hear outside the window of my US downtown city loft. People do mill about from place to place, but as there is zero entertainment possibilities they tend to not hang out that much.
How safe is Djibouti? Well all those kids with gun stories I mentioned earlier are just that, stories. Djibouti enforces a 100% gun control policy. No body except high ranking police and military have guns; and some government and business people.
How safe is Djibouti? Like I said before, French families have been living and working in Djibouti for over 150 years and they don't worry much. The president of Djibouti has done a great job in securing his country; there is no way any of the bad men will get through his network of listening posts and informants. Djibouti is nothing like any of those places you hear about in the news, which likes to make things sound crazier than they really are any way.
So how did these stories of gun toting kids come about? Stories told by US senior officers to the junior enlisted to 'protect' them, so they do not want to leave the safe nest. Why? Those young troops have a way of getting into trouble, and let us leave it at that. So better to be under the thumb of fear than to cause a international incident.
Now there are US contractors who are finally making their way out from behind the walls. They are finding that life does exist, and it is a good life. Why, because they get the added $ for working in a war zone; uplift $. So no complaints from them on the place being designated as a possible home of the boggy man.
That leads us to the answer on why is Djibouti designated as a war zone. This designation simply allows US military personnel to get the check box marked (war zone assignment) in their personnel file. It also adds credence to the high cost of doing business in Djibouti; caused more by US government mis-management than a true high cost. That is the simple truth.
So if you are planning on a trip to Djibouti to go swimming with the whale sharks, or to check off some bucket list items--been to the hottest spot on the planet--add been to a war zone to that check list item crossed out :-)
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