is an annual report produced in conjunction with the Regional Security Office
at the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé. OSAC encourages travelers to use
this report to gain baseline knowledge of security conditions in Cameroon.
For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s Cameroon country page
for original OSAC reporting, consular messages, and contact information, some
of which may be available only to private-sector representatives with an OSAC
The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication
assesses Cameroon at Level 2, indicating travelers should indicating
travelers should exercise increased caution throughout the country due to
crime, kidnapping, terrorism, and civil unrest. Do not travel to North, Far
North, Northwest and Southwest Regions, and Parts of East and Adamawa Regions
due to crime and kidnapping; Far North Region due to terrorism; and Northwest
and Southwest Regions due to armed conflict. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding
the Consular Travel Advisory System.
Overall Crime and
U.S. Department of State has assessed Yaoundé and Douala as being CRITICAL-threat locations for crime
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. High unemployment
and limitations caused by under-resourcing and overextending security forces
continue to contribute to criminality in Yaoundé, Douala, and other cities. An
influx of internally displaced persons and refugees fleeing conflicts in the
Central African Republic (CAR) and Nigeria has strained Cameroon’s economy,
putting pressure on already strained basic social services and exacerbating
overcrowding in densely populated urban and peri-urban areas, especially in
regions touched by the multiple conflicts confronting the country. Cameroon’s
borders remain porous, exacerbating the potential for spillover from
neighboring countries. At the same time, the ongoing unrest and resulting
humanitarian crisis in the country’s Northwest and Southwest Regions has
displaced more than half a million people, with many of those displaced finding
refuge in the neighboring Littoral and West regions. Lack of access to basic
services and livelihood opportunities have increased the vulnerability of
displaced persons and led to negative coping mechanisms, including crime and
armed banditry, particularly in areas where those fleeing instability have
activity is a major concern for the official and private U.S. communities in
Cameroon. Most crime is economically motivated. Street crime is endemic in
major metropolitan areas, and ranges from opportunistic to violent in nature. Low-level
and more sophisticated criminals alike continue to target relatively wealthy
Cameroonians, expatriates, and members of the diplomatic community. Criminals
have robbed expatriates as well as locals inside and outside their residences,
on the street, and in restaurants, shops, and taxis. Pickpockets operate at
large gatherings and soccer matches, as well as at airports. Thieves often
attempt to distract a victim by asking questions or bumping/jostling them,
allowing an accomplice to snatch valuables.
may be armed. Often, thieves use knives or razor blades to cut valuables out of
pockets, handbags, or backpacks. Thieves may also draw victims in close and
place the tip of a knife or other sharp object in the victim’s side, while
leading the victim to an isolated location or crowd before taking or demanding
money. Thieves routinely use motorcycles to conduct drive-by snatchings of
purses and other valuables. Theft by intimidation or extortion is also a common
tactic, with criminal groups brandishing machetes and using them in the face of
resistance or non-compliance.
the holiday period from November through early January brings upticks in street
crime, thefts from occupied and unoccupied vehicles, residential break-ins,
highway banditry, and armed robberies. These crimes can escalate to violence,
especially when victims resist or fight back; comply with the demands of
criminals as much as possible. Many crimes involve an “inside man” and target
individuals or locations associated with payrolls, money transfers, or large
sums of cash. Review OSAC’s reports, All
That You Should Leave Behind.
of items from hotel rooms is common. Home invasions by gangs occur in wealthier
neighborhoods, especially at locations without 24-hour guards and residential
security enhancements (e.g., perimeter walls, window grilles, solid-core/metal
doors). Review OSAC’s reports, Hotels:
The Inns and Outs and Considerations
for Hotel Security.
is a concern throughout the country and has led to deadly confrontations.
crime, including armed robbery, has increased around Douala and some towns in
Littoral region. Internal displacement and economic desperation stemming from
the Anglophone crisis are likely drivers of this trend.
scams targeting foreigners, including U.S. citizens, continue to be a problem.
The scams generally involve phony offers of lucrative sales/business
opportunities and requests for additional funds to pay for unforeseen airport
and/or customs fees.
Embassy and members of federal law enforcement have identified a wide range of
internet-scams based in or involving Cameroon. These schemes cover a broad
spectrum of bogus activities, including child adoptions, insurance claims,
dating scams, real estate, and the offer of goods/services, such as domestic
services, agricultural products, antiques, and exotic/domesticated animals.
Often, these cyber scams involve “advance fee” requests; frequently, victims
receive little/nothing in return.
scams also take place. For example, in 2016, a U.S. citizen was the victim of
attempted blackmail at the hands of an individual he had met via social media.
During several video chat sessions, the victim participated in consensual,
sexually explicit activity. The individual recorded the activity and threatened
to turn the video over to the police as part of a criminal complaint unless the
victim met the individual’s demand for money.
scams resulting from the crisis in the Northwest and Southwest region continue
to plague the country, primarily targeting those with ties to the affected
areas. This scam pattern involves sending threatening emails via text message,
WhatsApp, or other social media, demanding that recipients demonstrate they
have “chosen a side” in the Anglophone crisis – either the separatists’ or the
government’s – by sending mobile funds to the scammer. Scammer affiliation with
separatist elements or the government is immaterial; they may be unaffiliated
criminals exploiting the crisis for financial gain. Confounding efforts to
provide guidance on dealing with these scams is that in a minority of
instances, the threats come from genuine armed non-state actors. Cameroonian
law enforcement authorities are aware of this phenomenon and have demonstrated
the will and capacity to deal with these incidents, when brought to their
Embassy has also identified an uptick in monetary scams via text message where
a fraudulent text message is sent, notifying the recipient that money has been
transferred to their mobile account. The scammer will then call the victim,
asking that they return the amount of money that was never actually sent.
2019 and 2020, the Embassy has received reports of international visitors’
credit cards, bank accounts, and/or ATM cards locked out or frozen following
use in Cameroon, often with no warning or explanation. Visitors should
understand that Cameroon remains primarily a cash-based economy, and the higher
rates of cybercrime and fraud could complicate the use of electronic forms of
payment. Review OSAC’s reports, The
Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM Skimmers & Fraud and Taking
OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity
Practices for Maximizing Security on Public Wi-Fi, Traveling
with Mobile Devices: Trends & Best Practices, and Satellite
Phones: Critical or Contraband?
Road Safety and Road Conditions
of Cameroon’s road network is poorly maintained and unsafe, including in parts
of major cities. During the rainy season, many roads are barely passable, even
with four-wheel drive vehicles. Livestock and pedestrians create constant road
hazards, especially at night. There are few road and traffic signs. Most
roadways are unlighted, making travel dangerous; there are few streetlights,
even in major cities.
routinely disregard road safety rules. Enforcement of speed limits takes place
primarily along the major routes between Yaoundé and Douala. Speed traps and
checkpoints on highways catch unsuspecting motorists and result in fines of
approximately US $50. The maximum national speed limit is 110 km/hour. Very
serious, often fatal speed-related accidents are common. Drive defensively and
be alert to the possibility of passing vehicles coming from the opposite
are generally in poor maintenance, and authorities enforce mechanisms or
requirements to inspect vehicles for roadworthiness unevenly. In 2013, the
government passed a law requiring that a basic safety kit should be in all
vehicles; roadside checkpoints will stop and conduct vehicle inspections for
these items. However, untrained, government-backed private safety associations
staff these checkpoints, and in doing so, create road traffic and hazards by
stopping vehicles at unsafe locations along major highways.
has experienced a resurgence in road banditry throughout the country. Road
bandits (coupeurs de route) have
targeted public buses and have resorted to violence to control passengers.
Attacks on public transportation and infrastructure have also taken place since
2018 in the Anglophone regions, including blocking of roads, destruction of
bridges, stopping of vehicles, and even violence against motorists; at least
one bus driver was murdered. The potential for armed confrontation over roads
increases the risk of wrong place/wrong time violence to road travelers.
travel after dark throughout the country due to the heightened risk for traffic
accidents and increased criminality at night.
U.S. Embassy’s ability to provide consular services in remote and rural areas
of Cameroon is extremely limited due to official travel restrictions and
security concerns. The U.S. Embassy restricts U.S. official travel to the North
and Far North regions, along with parts of the East and Adamawa Regions
bordering CAR due to risk of violent crime and terrorism. All Embassy travel to
these three regions requires advance coordination with host-nation security
forces due to terrorist and criminal activities including attacks and
kidnappings. Due to the increasingly violent conflict in the Anglophone
regions, the Embassy also restricts mission-essential personnel travel to
Northwest and Southwest Regions.
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
public transportation; hire private transport from a reliable source. Using
public transportation is dangerous; vehicles do not meet international safety
standards, are poorly maintained, and often overcrowded. Minibuses, buses,
trains, and ferries are in poor mechanical condition and often seat well beyond
their intended capacity. Make sure any car you hire has adequate insurance,
preferably by written confirmation from the insurance company (rather than the
car hire firm). If you are hiring a driver and car, make sure you are not
liable for any accident or damage.
bus accidents caused by high speeds and reckless maneuvering are frequent and
often result fatalities. Most buses are usually overcrowded and often lack
Hilton and Mont Fébé hotels offer a shuttle service from Yaoundé Airport (NSI)
to downtown Yaoundé. Use this service or retain the services of a reputable
private transport company.
are also unsafe; a major train derailment occurred in 2016 on the route
connecting Douala to Yaoundé. The accident killed 70 passengers and injured
more than 500 others. Passenger service has not yet restarted between the two
OSAC’s report, Security
In Transit: Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
has experienced four major air transport-related accidents in the past two
decades. Temporary airport closures have occurred due to poor illumination
and/or lack of electricity. The state-owned airline, Camair-Co, has had multiple
safety incidents in the past two years, including a tailstrike at Bafoussam
Airport (BFX) in March 2019 and a forced landing in Garoua (GOU) in April 2019.
In December 2019, separatists fired upon a Camair-Co civilian flight during its
final approach into Bamenda (BPC), damaging the fuselage but with no injuries.
All mishaps involved Camair-Co’s Chinese-built Xian MA-60 aircraft. It may also
be prudent to avoid flights to Cameroon that transit Bangui M’Poko Airport
(BGF) in CAR, due to potential unrest in Bangui.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Yaoundé and Douala as being MEDIUM-threat locations for terrorism
directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Nigeria-based terrorist groups operate in Cameroon: Boko Haram and the Islamic
State of Iraq and al-Sham in West Africa (ISIS-WA). ISIS-WA, which initially
emerged as a splinter group from Boko Haram, is an ISIS-recognized regional
affiliate; it has become increasingly active in northeastern Nigeria and
neighboring areas of Lake Chad Basin countries. Since 2015, there have been
over 100 documented and reported detonations of improvised explosive devices
(IEDs) along roadways, in villages, and in local markets in Cameroon by
Nigeria-based terrorist groups. IED incidents are ongoing. Kidnappings of
Cameroonian nationals by terrorist groups and suicide bombing attacks have also
occurred in the Far North region during the last year. Boko Haram and ISIS-WA
each likely aspire to target Westerners for kidnapping and attack.
State Department warns U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the North and Far
North Regions because of terrorist threats – including kidnapping – presented
by ISIS-WA and Boko Haram. Each group has actively targeted foreign residents,
tourists, and government leaders in the North and Far North regions, and has
demonstrated a continuing capacity and interest in kidnapping foreigners since
2013. Since 2015, these groups have conducted dozens of suicide bombings in the
North and Far North Regions, including in Maroua. In recent years, successful
attacks have been limited to the border areas with Nigeria.
have been no reports of any widespread anti-U.S. or anti-Western incidents or
sentiment in Cameroon. However, the potential for lone wolf attacks motivated
by anti-Western or anti-U.S. sentiment remains.
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
U.S. Department of State has assessed Yaoundé and Douala as being HIGH-threat locations for political
violence directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests. There has
been a significant escalation in violence in the Northwest and Southwest
Regions by both the government and separatist parties to the conflict over the
last 18 months; avoid travel to these regions. In late 2018, a U.S. citizen
traveling by road in the Northwest Region died by gunfire in armed conflict. Reports
indicate that in 2019, a U.S. citizen traveling in the region was in crossfire,
but unharmed. Travelers visiting these regions, particularly those of
Cameroonian origin, have been victims of kidnapping for ransom or unlawful detention
in the past 12 months.
ranging from workers’ strikes to political rallies and protests, are common in
many major cities in Cameroon, particularly Douala and some cities in the West
Region, with less frequent of major protests in Yaoundé. Opposition parties
have occasionally called for demonstrations. The government usually bans these
protests and quickly arrests those attempting to assemble. A large-scale
protest in Douala led to police-involved non-lethal shooting of members of the
opposition leadership with rubber projectiles. Political disputes, including
the government’s detention of senior opposition leaders, increase the potential
for violence. Government-aligned groups may assemble in large number, and
during 2019 and 2020, have on occasion selected foreign embassies and official
residences as demonstration sites. Avoid large gatherings; even peaceful
demonstrations can escalate to violence. Review OSAC’s report, Surviving
groups in Cameroon’s Northwest and Southwest Regions continue to carry out
lethal attacks and kidnappings of Cameroonian government security forces and
officials. They have also used IEDs in the Anglophone regions. Separatists
continue to use threats and violence to enforce “Ghost Town” days, barring free
movement and economic activity. Separatists continue to demand that schools
remain shuttered; they have a history of attacking educators who have opened
a 2019 uptick in violence and a number of incidents of separatist-related
attacks emanating into towns in Littoral and West regions that border the
conflict areas, and despite a “Grand National Dialogue” aimed at resolving the
conflict, Cameroon security forces stepped up operations in the Anglophone
regions during the latter parts of 2019 and early 2020, resulting in increased
violence, civilian casualties, and internal displacement. The conflict continues to increase in
intensity, and has taken on an added dimension of violence, with the razing of
villages, hospitals, and capital infrastructure, as well as attacks on
civilians by both parties to the conflict.
likelihood of becoming involved in a wrong place / wrong time crossfire
incident between the military and armed groups, kidnapped by separatists or
opportunistic criminals, retaliated against for violating a “Ghost Town,” or
encountering an IED or other artisanal anti-vehicle weapon has increased over
the past 12 months. Avoid any activity or visits to Cameroon’s Northwest and
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
is a serious lack of infrastructure throughout the country, even in major cities.
Power grids are unreliable, power surges and wide-scale blackouts are common.
Many neighborhoods lack running or potable water.
is a noticeable lack of service industry-oriented businesses. In the major
cities, only a handful of hotels meet international standards.
addition to the baseline lack of reliable telecommunications, the Government of
Cameroon routinely restricts access to internet and mobile communications
during periods of civil unrest and in advance of major anniversaries or
political events. Affected communication methods include SMS, image sharing,
and social media access. Restrictions normally affect localized areas,
including in major cities. Due to Cameroon’s limited telecommunications
infrastructure, the quality of voice calls may degrade during communications
restrictions, and increased user volume may overwhelm capacity. Travelers
should ensure they have redundant communications systems and sufficient
training to use these systems.
Personal Identity Concerns
Consensual same-sex sexual
activity is illegal and punishable by a prison sentence of six months to five
years and a fine ranging from 20,000 to 200,000 CFA francs ($35-$353).
Cameroon’s rate of enforcement of laws targeting the LGBTI+ community is among
the highest in the world. Over the past few years, authorities have brought
charges against scores of LGBTI+ people under the Criminal Code. Cameroonian
society includes a strongly homophobic current; not only does the public and media
condemn homosexuality, but religious figures also strongly oppose it. The
misconception that members of the LGBTI+ community do not have civil or human
rights because homosexuality is against the law is prevalent, and has prompted
police officers and civilians to stigmatize, harass, and oppress LGBTI+ people.
Police and civilians may extort money from presumed LGBTI+ individuals with the
threat of exposure or arrest. Members and suspected members of the LGBTI+
community have received anonymous threats by phone, text, and email. Review the
State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
with disabilities face challenges accessing transportation, public buildings,
hotels, and communication accommodations. There are few sidewalks and no curb
cuts, and most buildings lack elevators. Review the State Department’s webpage
on security for travelers
Review the State Department’s
webpage on security for female
Review OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
Piracy and Maritime Security
emanating from Nigeria presents an ongoing challenge for regional maritime
security in the Gulf of Guinea (GoG). The majority of GoG piracy events in the
last year occurred in or near Nigerian waters; however, dozens of incidents
occurred in international waters or off the coasts of other GoG countries,
including Cameroon. Vessels reported boardings, armed robberies, and crew
kidnappings near Douala – Cameroon’s main port. Pirates have targeted foreign –
and particularly Western – personnel for kidnapping for ransom, likely due to
kidnappers’ perceptions that they can exact higher ransoms for their release.
In such cases, they have transferred victims to other vessels or even taken
them ashore, primarily to hideouts in Nigeria’s Niger River delta areas;
Nigerian pirates are generally involved in such events.
and kidnap-for-ransom are serious security concerns, especially in the
Northwest and Southwest Regions, as well as areas bordering northern Nigeria
and CAR. Boko Haram and ISIS-WA historically engage in this tactic to raise
money for their causes. Criminal elements may also engage in this activity for
financial gain. Militants and criminals taking advantage of the conflict in
Northwest and Southwest Regions have kidnapped Cameroonian government
officials, local security force members, and foreigners. Kidnappers – criminal
or political in nature – frequently employ brutal force against victims, and
have increasingly targeted locals of all backgrounds. Review OSAC’s report, Kidnapping:
borders with many of its neighbors remain porous, allowing the activities of
criminals, terrorist groups, political militants and other armed actors to
spill over into Cameroonian territory from other countries, especially Nigeria,
Chad, and CAR. In addition, cross-border migration occurs frequently between
Cameroon and its neighbors due to normal commercial activities or
instability-driven humanitarian flight. Military operations sometimes cross
into Cameroon. Exercise heightened caution near the following border
- The northern borders with Nigeria,
particularly in the Far North, as Boko Haram and ISIS-WA activities in the area
have increased in the past 12 months;
- The border area with Chad due to
potential terrorist activity;
- The border areas with the Central
Africa Republic due to criminality and the possibility of encountering armed
Bakassi Peninsula, to which Cameroon's military authorities restrict access.
is illegal to take pictures of government buildings, military installations,
and other public facilities, many of which are unmarked. Authorities could
confiscate your photographic equipment, or fine, detain, or arrest you. Do not
take photos of people without their permission. Review OSAC’s report, Picture
This: Dos and Don’ts for Photography.
the State Department’s webpage on customs
and import restrictions for information on what you cannot take into or out
of other countries.
emergency line in Cameroon is 17 on landlines or 117 on cell phones for the police and 18 on landlines or 118 on cell phones
for the fire service. Law enforcement and security personnel struggle to deter
and respond to criminal activities. Police response is often slow, and may be
non-existent in some areas; perpetrators of crimes are rarely caught. Police
and security forces lack training and equipment. In some cases, police and
security force members have colluded with criminal elements and/or perpetrated
criminal acts. In others, law enforcement authorities have required victims to
provide payment to ensure or to expedite investigation or other appropriate
police action. Checkpoints and roadblocks often serve as a venue for
authorities to extort bribes from travelers.
citizens encountering difficulties should contact local authorities and the
U.S. Embassy. Any U.S. citizens detained by local authorities should remain
calm, be non-confrontational, and request to contact the U.S. Embassy
immediately. You may need to repeat these requests.
Government of Cameroon does not in theory recognize the dual citizenship of
Cameroonian nationals. Cameroonians who naturalize in other countries
automatically lose Cameroonian citizenship. Therefore, U.S. citizens of
Cameroonian descent should not use Cameroonian passports. In some cases,
however, authorities have detained U.S. citizens of Cameroonian descent for prolonged
periods, attempting to treat them as Cameroonian, and the Embassy’s Consular
Affairs Section has encountered difficulties in gaining access to them. The
expression of anti-government sentiment has led to the detention of U.S. citizens
of Cameroonian descent.
the State Department’s Crime Victims Assistance brochure.
and life safety services are limited in Cameroon. Medical facilities in
Cameroon do not approach U.S. standards. Services may be nonexistent in many
rural areas. A lack of trained specialists, outdated diagnostic equipment, poor
sanitation, and medications in short supply hamper emergency care and
hospitalization. These issues are more severe in rural areas. Non-French
speakers will face language barriers at health facilities in most parts of the
country. Find contact information for available medical services and available
air ambulance services on the U.S. Embassy website.
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Departments
webpage on insurance
following diseases are prevalent: Malaria, Schistosomiasis, Cholera, Dengue,
Yellow fever, Meningococcal meningitis, Polio, Tuberculosis, and HIV. Malaria
is endemic; travelers should consult their physician for anti-malaria
medication prior to travel.
travelers must have up-to-date immunizations and a yellow fever vaccination in
their shot record. Enforcement takes places prior to boarding outbound flights,
as well as prior to passing through immigration on inbound flights. Travelers
without documented immunization may receive a mandatory vaccine at the airport.
CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Cameroon.
OSAC’s reports, The
Healthy Way, Traveling
with Medication, I’m
Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken:
The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare
for Travel, and Fire
OSAC Country Council
Douala and Yaoundé Country Councils meet regularly. Interested private-sector
security managers should contact OSAC’s Africa
team with any questions or to join.
U.S. Embassy Contact
Avenue Rosa Parks (in the Mbankolo
Quartier, adjacent to the Mont Fébé Golf Club), Yaoundé
Normal Business Hours:
Monday-Thursday 0730-1700; Friday 0730-1230
Switchboard: +237 22220-1500
Marine Post 1: Ext. 4040
you travel, consider the following resources: