You pay your money you take your chances ... or something like that ...
As an Irish national living in France, I keep an eye on various FCO reports.
Leaving Guinea in January 2007 it took a while for the FCO to update their 'risk' assessment; in the meantime I was helping out a friend stuck in the drama unfolding in Conakry, the Irish Embassy in Paris were excellent but had no idea about the drama.
Cote d'Ivoire this year, FCO & the French sites stated it was 'off limits' one below Iraq. It was so quiet it was wonderful .. things have died down and Abidjan holds the same risks as any big city at the moment!
Mauritania - it's been known for several years that there is an Al-Qaeda group there ... unfortunately they struck at a busy time for overlanders and have succeeded in stopping the Dakar .. to my mind the French govt. have given them just what they wanted!
Forums like these give FAR more up to date info - good & bad in comparison with FCO sites!