Travel Safety for Mulanje, Blantyre, Zomba, Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Nsanje, and Phalombe Districts

Security Message for U.S. Citizens: October 18, 2017

This Security Message supersedes the September 29 Security Message on the same subject.

The U.S. Embassy continues to temporarily prohibit its staff from traveling to Malawi’s Mulanje District due to ongoing acts of vigilante justice stemming from rumors of persons attempting to steal blood from local residents for ritualistic use in so-called black magic or other nefarious purposes—these persons are colloquially called “bloodsuckers.”

Additionally, U.S. Embassy personnel now require explicit permission to travel to Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Nsanje, and Phalombe Districts, as well as rural parts of Blantyre and Zomba districts, due to reports of intimidation, high tensions, and vigilante justice in those areas stemming from the same rumors.

We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Mulanje District and exercise extreme caution if traveling to Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Nsanje, and Phalombe Districts, as well as rural parts of Blantyre and Zomba districts.

The U.S. Embassy has seen no evidence of persons attempting to steal blood.  The Malawi Police Service reports that since September 15, at least seven people have been murdered for being or collaborating with suspected “bloodsuckers,” along with multiple reports of injuries, property damage, threats, and acts of intimidation, including against local leaders and law enforcement.  There are reports of villagers forming vigilante night patrols to seek out and dispense justice to potential “bloodsuckers.”  Both Malawian citizens and foreign nationals have been targeted and attacked by these groups.  Emergency services, including police and ambulances, are largely based in urban centers and may have difficulty responding to rural areas.

For further information:

  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive security messages and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Contact the U.S. Embassy in Lilongwe, located on Kenyatta Drive, Area 40, Plot 24, Lilongwe 3, at 1-733-166, open Monday through Thursday 7:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Friday 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. After hours emergency number for U.S. citizens is 01-773-166, ext. 3443 (if in Malawi) or 011-265-1-773-166, ext. 3443 (if in the U.S.). If the land line is malfunctioning, please call the following mobile number 0999-591-024 and 0888-734-826 (if in Malawi) or 011-265-999-591-024 and 011-265-888-734-826 (if in the U.S.).
  • Call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries from8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
  • Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.