This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Bangui.
The current U.S. Department of
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication
assesses the Central African Republic at Level 4, indicating travelers should not
travel to the country due to crime, civil unrest, and kidnapping.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Embassy in Bangui does not assume
responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or
firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular
individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service
Review OSAC’s Central
African Republic-specific webpage for OSAC analytical reports, Consular messaging,
and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector
representatives with an OSAC password.
serious risk from crime in Bangui. Reliable official statistics on crime are
not available for the Central African Republic (CAR). The Embassy relies on
reporting from the UN, other embassies/diplomatic missions, and NGOs to obtain
limited statistics and reports of crimes.
Crime is a
direct result of continued political instability and extreme poverty. When
coupled with poor infrastructure, ethnic/religious conflict, and a weak
education system, there are few licit economic opportunities for the country’s
youth. Many individuals turn to criminal gangs and rebel groups to earn a
Bangui, crimes against foreigners occur periodically. Criminals continue to
target neighborhoods where government leaders, business professionals, aid
workers, and foreign diplomats live, despite an increased security presence. Home
and compound invasions occur most often where security is the weakest, where
exterior lighting is poor, and/or where there is insufficient access control.
Generally, criminals do not kill their victims, but the threat of force or the
use of force is not uncommon. Attempts to resist criminals often end with
violence. Most recently, in January, assailants shot the driver of a UN vehicle
during a carjacking.
CAR citizens are the targets of violent crime (e.g. home invasion, robbery,
aggravated battery, homicide). Criminals view them as the softest targets with
the least likelihood of potential consequence. Outside the capital, NGO staff
members and other expatriates are regularly the victims of violent crime. Criminal
activity targeting road travelers -- especially armed banditry -- is common,
particularly along major transit arteries, including the main routes from
Cameroon and Chad to Bangui. Much of this crime is opportunistic rather than directly
Sexual assault and domestic violence are
widespread in the CAR.
Other Areas of Concern
dry season, there is more internal and cross-border population movement due to the
movement of livestock, which often increases tensions between farmers and
herders. Areas in which criminal activity is prevalent change regularly and
Regional Security Office must approve all U.S. Embassy Bangui personnel travel
outside of Bangui. Generally, such travel proceeds with a close protection team
coordinated with UN security support.
passport at all times. Failure to produce your passport may result in detention
and/or a fine.
For more information, review OSAC’s report, Security in Transit: Airplanes, Public
Transport, and Overnights.
and Road Conditions
roads are in extremely poor condition throughout CAR. Virtually all roads are
unpaved, and receive almost no maintenance. During the rainy season, most roads
outside central Bangui become impassable due to flooding and the lack of
drainage. Overland travel times are often much longer than what one would
expect due to poor road conditions, frequency of vehicle disablement,
unpredictable traffic, and checkpoints. Criminal gangs and armed groups control
many roads, targeting logistical convoys (including UN convoys) and NGO workers.
Because of these conditions, travel only during the day, with other travelers,
and with a UN or government security escort if possible.
it is exceptionally difficult to see pedestrians, road hazards, and/or other
vehicles due to lack of lighting. Many local vehicles lack working headlights
and necessary maintenance. U. S. Embassy personnel generally may not travel outside
of Bangui at night due to an established UN curfew. Vehicles should carry food,
water, a first aid kit, satellite communications, and tools to repair damaged
vehicles or to extricate vehicles that become stuck. Within Bangui, it is
difficult to find reliable mechanics and spare parts for automobile repairs.
Outside of Bangui, it is virtually impossible.
little to no official driver training in CAR. Motorcyclists and drivers of
minibuses and taxis frequently disregard the rules of the road and place
themselves and their passengers in danger. Often, all types of transportation
vehicles weave in and out of traffic, make frequent and unannounced stops, are
overloaded, and are rarely in good working order. Recently, traffic accidents have
prompted large crowds to gather, which often turn violent as they seek to exact
mob justice on the party perceived to be at fault.
controls and streetlights are extremely limited in Bangui and non-existent in
the rest of CAR. Traffic police patrol busy intersections in Bangui, but are
often ineffective. Most drivers ignore traffic laws and any attempt to enforce them.
Traffic accidents are common, especially at intersections without traffic
controls. Pay extra attention when entering intersections and check all sides
of the vehicle, as motorcycles may pass unpredictably on either side.
Police and Gendarmerie
presence on roads outside of major towns is almost non-existent. Security
checkpoints can occur at any time. Checkpoint authorities may stop and harass diplomatic,
UN, and NGO drivers. Security officials at checkpoints have appeared
intoxicated, and sometimes demand payment (e.g. food, money) to pass.
If you are
involved in a traffic accident, wait until the police or Gendarmerie arrive,
unless you feel threatened. There are currently no distracted driving laws in
effect in CAR, but police may pull over drivers who talk or text while driving
for not following safe driving procedure.
parking your vehicle inside a compound with a security presence.
For more information on self-driving, review OSAC’s reports on Driving Overseas: Best Practices and Road Safety in Africa.
public transportation system consists of green buses and yellow taxis, though
these vehicles are often dangerously overcrowded and very badly maintained. Avoid
public transportation due to the poor mechanical condition of the vehicles, driver
disregard for traffic laws, and the target you present when aboard. U.S. Embassy
personnel may not use non-U.S. government vehicles in Bangui.
International Airport (BGF) does not operate after dark due to insufficient
runway illumination. In the dry season, dust and smoke from nearby fires may obscure
the runway, causing the cancellation of flights.
personnel may not travel on the Oubangui/Ubangi River by boat.
photographs of police or military installations, airports, or any other
government buildings is illegal. Unauthorized photography may result in the
seizure of photographic equipment by the CAR authorities. Police or other
government authorities can provide information and grant permission for
photographing a particular subject or location. Local residents may be very
sensitive to all photography; obtain permission first. Should you find yourself
detained because of photos, do not argue. It is best to agree and delete all
photos. For more information, review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns
There is minimal risk
from terrorism in Bangui. Ineffective border controls
may allow criminal and terrorist groups to seek temporary refuge in CAR, but
there is no evidence that terrorists train or regularly operate in CAR.
of foreign nationals is common, but focuses primarily on employees of the UN,
NGOs, and humanitarian organizations working in contested areas. However, in
2017, there was a spate of violent mobs and protests after the local population
(fairly or unfairly) blamed drivers of UN vehicles for causing serious vehicle
accidents in Bangui. Harassment of UN staff is largely in relation to perceived
ineffectiveness of operations and a perception of favoring one group over
another. Criminals often view non-CAR African nationals and members of NGOs as potential
victims of crimes of opportunity.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic
serious risk from political violence in Bangui. The CAR government is able, at
best, to project power within the immediate area of Bangui.
and protests occur regularly. Gatherings can escalate to violence quickly; rival
factions can become aggressive toward one another and toward police. Police
often respond in kind, exacerbating already tense situations. Avoid large
crowds, public gatherings, or demonstrations, which have the potential of
becoming unruly, resulting in physical injury or death. Protests do not usually
occur in front of the U.S. Embassy or other diplomatic facilities, though they
sometimes occur at the UN headquarters.
event of unrest, airport, land border, and road closures may occur with little
or no notice.
intra-ethnic violence is common, driven by resource competition. These groups
are often, but not solely, based on ethnic and familial ties. These ties and
perceived political and economic inequities are highly correlated with
religious affiliation, though this correlation is not the cause of most
violence. To combat these perceptions, there is a long tradition of “self-defense”
groups created to defend against real and/or perceived threats from those perceived
as outsiders. Initial attacks often inspire reprisals, creating a vicious cycle
of violence. Although these various groups either have been a party to a peace
process or have expressed an interest in peace, violence by armed actors continues.
rainy season, flooding can close roadways and make areas impassable for lengthy
periods. During the dry season, indiscriminate burning to clear land and to
dispose of trash creates smoke to a level that can cause health issues and obscure
airport runways around the country. This can severely affect air
is underdeveloped. Roads and bridges are in disrepair. Airports lack current
technology and sufficient lighting.
Personal Identity Concerns
practices may encourage discrimination based on sexual orientation. The penalty
for "public expression of love" between persons of the same sex is imprisonment
for six months to two years, or a fine. When one of the participants is
underage, the adult may receive a sentence of two to five years’ imprisonment
or a fine.
infrastructure is generally in poor condition. Sidewalks, buildings, and public
transportation do not cater to special accessibility needs.
for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in the CAR are severe. Convicted
offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
gangs and armed groups employ kidnapping for ransom on a frequent basis, mainly
outside of Bangui. There is little law enforcement can do to aid kidnap
National Police and Gendarmerie suffer from limited resources, a lack of
training, illiteracy, and weak command/control that make basic policing
services rudimentary at best. Law enforcement and security services receive pay
only irregularly, which encourages corruption and predation on civilians as a
source of income.
been reports that some law enforcement officers are perpetrators of crimes.
They use their weapons and uniforms in the commission of crimes, further
weakening public confidence in law enforcement.
one gets from Bangui, the more loosely laws are enforced and the more subjectivity
they are applied.
Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
enforcement officers reportedly make arbitrary arrests based on suspicion
rather than actual evidence. The judicial system suffers from a lack of
resources; the public perceives it as ineffective with regard to the provision
of due process. There are few practicing attorneys in the country, especially
travelers experiencing police detention or harassment must contact the American
Citizens’ Services Section at the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé, Cameroon at +237-2222-01500.
enforcement response to public requests for assistance is unpredictable. Do not
rely upon law enforcement agencies for security or medical emergencies
requiring immediate attention.
primary law enforcement groups are the National Police and the Gendarmerie. Each
focuses primarily on the larger towns and cities. Each suffers from lack of
training and equipment necessary to enforce the law adequately.
care is extremely limited, particularly outside of Bangui. Regional UN
hospitals may provide some level of care, but not at the standard one would
expect in a developed nation. There are few ambulance services; none meets
international standards. There are no Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines
in Bangui, only a couple of marginally functioning X-rays. Primary health care
workers, especially in rural areas, lack adequate professional training,
supplies, and equipment; instances of incorrect and improper treatment occur regularly.
Sanitation levels are low.
If you use prescription medication,
ensure you have sufficient supplies to last you during your stay. For more information, refer
to OSAC’s report, Traveling
with Medication. Most pharmacies have limited stocks of prescription drugs. Drugs
in stock at local pharmacies may be counterfeit or of unknown origin.
Contact Information for Available Medical Services
are limited. There has been some success working with the French Embassy
Medical Officer; call +236-72-21-35-30.
overseas medical insurance that includes air ambulance/medical evacuation
coverage before visiting CAR.
Vaccination and Health Guidance
to the transportation problem, smoke aggravates respiratory conditions.
The following diseases are prevalent: Meningococcal meningitis, Rabies,
Malaria, diarrheal diseases, HIV, Schistosomiasis, and Tuberculosis. Carry an
updated vaccination card for travel to CAR, including evidence of Yellow Fever
vaccination. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC)
classify CAR as a “High Risk” zone for Malaria. User Malaria prophylaxis while
in CAR. The
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for CAR.
OSAC Country Council Information
The OSAC CAR
Country Council is no longer active. The U.S. Embassy plans to re-constitute a
council in the future, but that will depend on support from limited business
ventures currently in country. If you are interested in helping restart the
program, contact OSAC’s Africa
U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information
Address and Hours of Operation
David Dacko, Bangui
0730-1700, Friday 0730-1330.
U.S. Marine Corps
Post 1: +236-75-41-11-11 (24/7)
Operator: +1-301-985-8613 x3201 or +236-21-61-02-00 / +236-75-79-60-50
Security Officer (RSO): +236-75-42-32-29
Regional Security Officers (ARSOs) +236-75-28-43-91 / +236-75-88-11-33
U.S. citizens traveling in CAR should register
in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
(STEP), a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information
about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.
African Republic Country Information Sheet
to High-Risk Areas Webpage