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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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Chad 2020 Crime & Safety Report

This is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in N’Djaména. OSAC encourages travelers to use this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Chad. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s country-specific page for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.

Travel Advisory

The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses Chad at Level 3, indicating travelers should reconsider travel to the country due to crime, terrorism, and minefields. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the Consular Travel Advisory System.

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime Threats

The U.S. Department of State has assessed N’Djaména as being a CRITICAL-threat location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Incidents of petty and violent crime remained steady in 2019, based on anecdotal reporting from private-sector organizations and the expatriate community. However, year-to-year and geographic comparisons of crime trends remain difficult to assess because there are no official crime statistics in Chad, and because many incidents go unreported.

Criminals occasionally targeted expatriates in 2019, including armed robbery. The U.S. Embassy is aware of three armed robberies of U.S. citizens in 2019, and knows of approximately one other expatriate per week being the victim of a robbery. Review OSAC’s reports, All That You Should Leave Behind.

Home invasions directed at expatriates remain rare, though most expatriates employ residential guards. Robberies of expatriate residences involving local domestic employees also occur. Workplace theft is prevalent due to economic stagnation, which has resulted in widespread salary reductions and unpaid wages.

Remain vigilant at public gatherings and any locations expatriates frequent, including markets, hotels, restaurants, bars and places of worship. The risk of criminal targeting greatly increases at night, especially if out alone or in isolated areas.

Criminals may target drivers and passengers for crimes of opportunity in N’Djaména and throughout the country. Thieves may open unlocked doors or reach through open windows to steal items left in plain sight. In some cases, criminals may stage accidents to divert attention or increase the vulnerability of potential victims. Criminals may follow expatriates from major markets or grocery stores to rob them upon arrival at their destination. Drivers should drop passengers within a compound if possible; otherwise, passengers should remain in the vehicle until the compound door is open, while keeping watch for any potential attackers lying in wait. Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels: The Inns and Outs and Considerations for Hotel Security.

Carjacking directed at expatriates has fallen off slightly, with an average of one or two known cases each month versus as many as three a month reported at the peak in 2017. White Toyotas have been frequent targets, but only rarely have carjackers pursued vehicles painted in recognizable colors with organization logos. Carjacking and roadside robbery/extortion are more common outside of N’Djaména, but these crimes occur nationwide. Banditry remains a problem outside of major towns.

Upticks in crime historically occur around holidays throughout Chad, particularly around Eid-al-Fitr and during the Christmas season. This year’s trends appeared similar to those reported in 2018, with some reports of holiday robbery and burglary.

Cybersecurity Issues

Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, and Best Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi. Traveling with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones: Critical or Contraband?

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Vehicular accidents are the greatest risk to personal safety to travelers in Chad. Fatal traffic accidents are a daily occurrence. Hazards include erratic driving, poor road conditions, and poor condition of vehicles – many of which do not meet international safety standards. Use extreme caution when driving in Chad, and use seat belts and other safety equipment scrupulously. Even minor injuries can be life threatening because of limited and slow emergency medical response. 

Roads become more dangerous at night throughout the country as they usually have poor lighting – if any at all – even in N’Djaména. Pedestrians may use the roads to push carts transporting goods to/from the markets; many wear dark clothing that renders them difficult to see at night. The risk of head-on collision increases because some cars and trucks do not have operable headlights or only have one functional light, which can make them appear as motorcycles at night. While N’Djaména and some other cities have a few traffic lights, they are often inoperable.

Chadian roads are in generally poor condition and are often unpaved; though some new roadbuilding efforts commenced in late 2019. Most major streets in N’Djaména are paved. For travel outside the capital, use appropriately equipped, rugged vehicles with high ground clearance and four-wheel drive; travel in convoys of two or more vehicles due to the risk of vehicle damage, breakdowns, sand/mud obstacles, and carjacking. Carry recovery equipment and extra fuel; outside N’Djaména, “fuel stands” can be up to several hundred kilometers apart and often sell poor quality fuel sold in glass or plastic bottles. Travelers have found themselves stranded for hours waiting for assistance. Stranded motorists and nighttime travelers are at greater risk of criminal targeting.

Drivers should ensure that the vehicle has a copy of a valid insurance policy and registration papers. Authorities require a local license and insurance to self-drive. Acquire the license from the Chadian National Police (PNT) for a fee without a driving test or written exam upon presentation of a valid foreign license. Several commercial insurance companies in Chad provide coverage for local and expatriate drivers.

Individuals involved in a traffic accident should:

  • Contact emergency services at 2020 or +235-6627-7090;
  • Stop the vehicle exactly where the accident occurred, even if it is in the middle of an intersection or traffic circle;
  • Remain in the vehicle until the PNT arrive on scene and complete an accident report and sketch; and
  • Present copies of your passport photo page, driver’s license, and insurance to the PNT. Carry at least two copies of these documents.

The police may require drivers to follow them to the nearest police station to complete a police report in the event of an accident. U.S. citizens should contact the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section at +235-2251-5017 if police arrest or detain them for an extended period. Those involved in an accident may need to transport injured persons to the hospital, particularly if the injured party’s vehicle is unusable.

Consider restricting road travel outside of N’Djaména to daylight hours. The majority of cases of highway banditry occur under the cover of darkness. Avoiding isolated areas devoid of security forces, traveling in convoys, and forgoing nighttime travel will greatly reduce the likelihood of falling victim to a carjacking or armed robbery. If stopped, do not resist assailants unless there is an imminent danger of physical harm. 

Security force shakedowns have occurred, although such incidents predominantly affect motorists driving cars with local license plates. While checkpoints have become less frequent, especially in N’Djaména, there have been some reports of extortion at checkpoints, especially late at night.

Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad, Driving Overseas: Best Practices, and Evasive Driving Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving and road safety abroad.

Public Transportation Conditions

U.S. government personnel may not use taxis, microbuses, motorcycles, or rented vehicles as a mode of transportation. Review OSAC’s report, Security In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.

Terrorism Threat

The U.S. Department of State has assessed N’Djaména as being a HIGH-threat location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. The potential exists for terrorist activity throughout Chad. Violent extremist organizations (e.g. Boko Haram, ISIS-West Africa, ISIS-Libya, and al-Qa’ida-affiliated groups) can easily cross borders and target Westerners, local security forces, and civilians in the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel.

In 2019, Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa conducted frequent attacks against Chadian civilians and military forces in the Lake Chad region. Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa actions have displaced thousands of Chadians.

There has also been an increase in violent actions by Chadian rebel groups from across the Libyan border. Government response has raised concerns about the potential for reprisal attacks in N’Djaména by group members or sympathizers. 

Anti-U.S./Anti-Western Sentiment

The Chadian government and people are generally friendly towards U.S. citizens, but violent extremist groups in the Lake Chad region and the Sahel have expressed or signaled their intention to target Westerners.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

The U.S. Department of State has assessed N’Djaména as being a HIGH-threat location for political violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. Chad’s recent history is one of political tensions, rebellions, and coup attempts. The current Chadian government has a strong executive branch, headed by President Idriss Déby Itno and dominated by his Zaghawa ethnic group, which controls the political landscape.

Civil Unrest 

Public demonstrations have been illegal since the 2016 elections. However, the government has been generally lax in enforcing this ban. When demonstrations do occur, they are under tight police supervision.

Avoid demonstrations and large crowds, as even peaceful gatherings can turn violent unexpectedly. Individuals participating in demonstrations/crowds may throw rocks at random passers-by, vehicles, and security forces, which may escalate the situation. Security forces typically react quickly and harshly to protest activities, and frequently use teargas and/or warning shots to disperse demonstrators. Checkpoints may become more frequent during times of protest; police presence may increase or become more visible around such activities. Another reason to avoid demonstrations is the threat of crime, as large crowds attract petty criminals and pickpockets. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving a Protest.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

During the rainy season (May-October), roads are often impassable due to standing water/mud. In the summer, the temperature can climb to 130 degrees Fahrenheit; take precautions to stay hydrated and minimize sun exposure. During the dry season (November-April), dust storms diminish air quality, interfere with road safety and visibility, and often lead to flight cancellations.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns

Due to Chad’s limited industrial base, there are few reported industrial accidents. Oil fields in the south have stringent safety and security regulations, although Chinese oil company standards have not prevented significant spillage.

Electricity supply is poor in N’Djaména and worse elsewhere. Most expatriate homes have generators to supplement city power.

The Government of Chad has selectively restricted internet and mobile communications services during periods of heightened tension; this includes social media platforms such as Facebook, and text messaging services including SMS and WhatsApp. Cellular networks suffer from capacity issues during normal operating conditions; in some cases, the government has shut down cellular networks entirely. In general, the government does not permit satellite phones for import or use in the country without specific written permission. Review OSAC’s reports, Traveling with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite Phones: Critical or Contraband?

Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft

Despite limited resources, Chadian customs officials make occasional efforts to enforce copyright laws, normally by seizing and burning counterfeit medicines, CDs, and mobile phones. However, imported counterfeit pharmaceuticals, watches, sports clothing, footwear, jeans, cosmetics, perfumes, videos, music, and other goods are available in modern stores. Avoid street vendors selling knock-off designer products. Chad does not regularly track and report on seizures of counterfeit goods.

Personal Identity Concerns

Strong social and cultural strictures against homosexuality exist, and no known LGBTI organizations operate in the country. The law prohibits but does not define “unnatural acts,” and authorities could use it against LGBTI persons. The law does not protect individuals from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+ travelers.

Female travelers should use extra caution when traveling in Chad, particularly if traveling alone. Avoid isolated situations that could put you at risk; never walk or jog alone in secluded areas, particularly at night; and never tell strangers, however friendly, where you are staying or disclose travel plans. While the law prohibits marriage before the age of 18, forced marriage of underage girls and women remains a serious problem. The law also prohibits female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C), but the practice remains widespread. Although the law prohibits violence against women, domestic violence, including spousal abuse, is widespread. Wives have limited legal recourse in cases of abuse. There is no reliable data on the extent of sexual assault though it is widely acknowledged as a problem. Cultural and social biases often lead to a lack of reporting for rape. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for female travelers.

Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice, and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based travelers.

Access to transportation, lodging, and public buildings is limited. There are few sidewalks and no curb cuts, and most buildings lack elevators. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers with disabilities.

Kidnapping Threat

Kidnapping of Westerners remains a concern following an incident in which kidnappers took a French expatriate in 2017. Kidnapping for ransom is especially prevalent along Chad’s borders with Cameroon and the Central African Republic. Kidnappings tend to involve local communities and tribes that straddle the border. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.

Other Issues

Avoid large concentrations of uniformed security elements and use extreme caution when visiting areas in which the military operates, particularly near Chad’s borders. Border security remains elevated. Chad’s borders with Libya and Sudan are generally off-limits without specific permission from the Government of Chad. The Chad-Libya border is an active conflict zone. New mines may have been laid in secondary roads in 2019, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) remains from the Chad-Libya conflict. Remain on paved or well-traveled roads when possible.

Do not take photos without a permit from the Government of Chad. Authorities rigorously enforce photography restrictions, particularly near government, diplomatic, and military sites. While it is possible for visiting journalists and others to receive permission to take photos, most working-level security authorities operate under the assumption that a foreigner who is taking photos is breaking the law. Authorities have detained visitors and seized photography equipment for taking photographs without purchasing a permit. Review OSAC’s report, Picture This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.

Read the State Department’s webpage on customs and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out of other countries.

Police Response

Police response and emergency services vary depending on the service area, with more capabilities in major cities. Police response is generally good in N’Djaména, but remains limited in peripheral areas. Police and emergency response times are slower than in Western countries.

Police officers may request that drivers pay fines for infractions directly to them, including after an accident. Avoid paying fines directly to police officers. If you refuse to pay directly, the police officer will typically direct you to transport him/her to the nearest police station to pay, since most police do not have vehicles and/or gas.

Local security force posture around the Presidential Palace Compound on Avenue Félix Éboué in N’Djaména remains elevated. Avoid acting suspiciously, taking pictures, walking, and/or loitering, in this area, as the Presidential Guard has responded to such activities in an extremely aggressive manner.

Chad is not a signatory to the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties; however, the Government of Chad does fulfill generally accepted responsibilities of signatories by providing for the safety and security of foreign citizens, officials, diplomatic missions, and foreign interests in the country. If security forces detain or arrest a U.S. citizen, s/he should request that the police contact the U.S. Embassy; you may need to repeat the request.

The emergency line in Chad is 2020 (cell phone) or +235-6627-7090.

Lack of actual street addresses may pose challenges when reporting an emergency. Callers should describe the location of the emergency using landmarks, which may be difficult for foreigners or anyone unfamiliar with the area. Travelers may encounter language barriers when requesting assistance; while French and Chadian Arabic are widely spoken in N’Djaména, French is less common elsewhere. Very few Chadian police officers speak English. Download the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.

Police/Security Agencies

The Chadian National Police are responsible for day-to-day law enforcement within major cities. The Gendarmerie Nationale (rural police, under the Ministry of Defense) and the Garde Nationale et Nomade du Tchad (National and Nomadic Guard of Chad) also exercise law enforcement powers in rural areas.

Medical Emergencies

Medical care is limited within N’Djaména, and difficult to find outside of major cities. Chad has limited and extremely expensive public ambulance services. In case of emergency, consider transporting the patient with private vehicles. Find contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy website.

Public health sector strikes are common.

Tap water is generally not safe to drink. Consume only water in bottles unless you use a purifier or some other form of distillation. Review OSAC’s report, I’m Drinking What in My Water?,

Standing water provides a breeding ground for mosquitoes that spread malaria throughout the central and southern regions of Chad. Malaria is endemic; malaria prophylaxis is highly recommended.

The U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments webpage on insurance overseas.

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Chad.

Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, Traveling with Medication, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.

OSAC Country Council Information

Chad has an active OSAC Country Council, which meets quarterly. Contact OSAC’s Africa team.

U.S. Embassy Contact Information

Chagoua Roundpoint, B.P. 413, N’Djaména

Embassy Operator: (235) 2251-5017

Marine Post One: (235) 2251-5017 x24288

Website: https://td.usembassy.gov/

The American Citizen Services Section of the U.S. Embassy in N’Djaména is open to the public for emergency services (no appointment necessary) Monday-Thursday from 0730-1700 and Friday from 0730-1230, excluding U.S. and Chadian national holidays.

Helpful Information

Before you travel, consider the following resources:

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