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Equatorial Guinea 2015 Crime and Safety Report

Africa > Equatorial Guinea; Africa > Equatorial Guinea > Malabo

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

Crime Rating: High

Crime Threats

Criminals consider Malabo (the capital city) and Bata (the largest city on the mainland) prime grounds for operations due to the number of people, businesses, and affluent areas. Additionally, crime affects urban and rural areas due to limited police assets. Criminals will resort to force if necessary in order to accomplish their goals. Gangs are not deterred by confrontations with their intended victims. Crime increases during the Christmas holiday season.

The most common crime reported by Americans and the expatriate community is extortion by corrupt police officers.

Theft of unaccompanied items is the second most common crime reported by American expatriates. Residential burglary is also a commonly reported criminal act. Among the local population, burglaries and home invasions occur frequently. Criminals have completely emptied a person’s home while they were away during the day. Burglars have also entered residences while the occupants were home asleep. At least four home invasions by armed intruders have occurred in the expatriate community in 2014.

Violent crime directed toward expatriates or foreign tourists is unusual, but there are reports of expatriates who have been attacked violently. 

Cyber

A very small percentage of the local population has access to the Internet, and cyber criminals are not known to operate from Equatorial Guinea. There have been no recent reports of cybercrimes with an Equatoguinean nexus.

Areas of Concern

Congested urban areas can be dangerous at night, but daytime incidents are also a possibility. The presence of other pedestrians on the street should not be taken as an indication of security. Victims report being robbed in broad daylight in the presence of witnesses. 

Although piracy in the Gulf of Guinea is common, ships in littoral waters have had few reported piracy incidents in the recent past. One locally-owned small cargo ship was hijacked in EG or Cameroonian waters in early 2014. The crewmembers were rescued by Nigerian Special Forces from a basecamp in the Nigerian Delta region.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions 

Traffic accidents are one of the greatest dangers in Equatorial Guinea. Use extreme caution when on the road, as drivers are prone to excessive speeding and reckless behavior. A large percentage of drivers are unlicensed, and a similar percentage of drivers are drunk, during the day and night. Other road hazards include: poor lighting, failure to obey traffic signals, presence of pedestrians, livestock, and other animals on roadways, slow moving vehicles, large trucks delivering heavy cargo, and erratic stopping by taxis and other vehicles. However, all main thoroughfares and most secondary roads are paved and in good to excellent condition in Malabo.

Avoid driving at night outside Malabo in deserted areas or those with low population density. Rural and suburban areas alike are poorly lit and pose additional safety hazards due to pedestrians and animals crossing the roads. Large trucks sometimes park on the side of the road or on the road without using emergency flashers or warning signs.

Public Transportation Conditions 

Taxi drivers have a reputation for being drunk while working. There have been reports from both Malabo and Bata of expatriates boarding taxicabs and then driven to unfamiliar places against their will and robbed. It is strongly advised to completely avoid the use of taxicabs. If it is absolutely necessary to take a taxicab, you should only do so if you are in groups of two or more and you have the ability to physically dominate the driver of the vehicle; do not allow unknown passengers in the vehicle with you.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

The Malabo airport (SSG) receives all international flights. Outbound passenger screening should be considered non-existent by U.S. standards, as passengers and non-passengers alike may proceed to the airside waiting room without undergoing security screening. Some airlines have instituted hand/visual screening at the boarding jetway that is of minimal deterrence value but should not be considered passenger security screening equal to ICAO, U.S., or European standards.

Other Travel Conditions

Keep automobile doors locked, seat belts fastened, and windows rolled up at all times. Keep belongings out of plain view at all times. While idling at a light or stop sign, leave adequate maneuver room between your vehicle and the one in front so that you can expedite your departure should the need arise. Park only in well-lit areas, preferably in parking lots with a security guard. Do not roll down your window if someone approaches your vehicle. Ignore persons outside your vehicle and drive away if you feel uncomfortable. While stopped in urban traffic, continue to scan rearview mirrors to identify potential trouble. Do not stop your vehicle if you encounter rocks or logs in the middle of the road. This is a technique used in Africa for robbers to force vehicles to stop. Either drive around the barriers or turn around. Do not stop to assess the situation.

Police and soldiers sometimes ask private vehicles to give them a ride. Refuse politely. 

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

Equatorial Guinea’s septuagenarian president is Africa’s longest-serving head of state. While there is no political unrest, the country lacks democratic experience and institutional capacity to guarantee an orderly change of leadership. The regime has thwarted two armed attacks in the recent past: one in 2004 and another in 2009. Over the past few years, there have been no reports of political violence or acts of terrorism. 

Political Violence Rating: Medium

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

Terrorism Rating: Low

Civil Unrest 

Civil unrest is not common in Equatorial Guinea. Demonstrations are not allowed and are rare. If you run into one, stay away, as it is likely an illegal demonstration that the police will disperse.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

During the summer season, torrential downpours can cause severe damage to villages and bridges. Most major cities are coastal. There have been no major natural disasters in recent history. The lack of infrastructure could complicate any rescue or response operation.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns 

There have been no major problems or concerns in the recent past involving critical infrastructures, including electricity, telecommunication, water supplies, public health, or the transportation system. Larger foreign companies have the capability to supply their compounds’ power needs from generators and water needs from onsite wells. Some reliance on fuel for both transportation and electricity is a potential vulnerability for compounds that do not produce their own. 

Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Thefts

There is a small black market in Malabo that sells counterfeit, stolen, and IPR violation goods.

Privacy Concerns

Visitors should have no expectation of privacy in hotel rooms or in publically accessible areas. Hotel rooms should be considered to be monitored or subject to being monitored and/or searched by local police/security entities.

Drug-related Crimes

Drugs, especially marijuana, are present. Care should be taken to avoid being involved in any form of narcotics activity. There have been no reports of narco-terrorist events in Malabo since at least 2009.

Kidnapping Threat

There have been occasional kidnappings for ransom, but it is not known to be prevalent. A Chinese expatriate was kidnapped and died after he was bound and gagged in Bata. Chinese expatriates have also been targeted in Malabo due to the (mostly true) perception that Chinese carry large sums of cash with them (the Chinese Embassy in Malabo recommends to their citizens that they not leave cash at their residence, leaving little other choice).

Police Response

Often, police will stop expatriates in traffic and will levy a fine to be paid on the spot, while threatening the driver with vehicle impoundment if they do not pay. Usually, the officer will explain that the driver failed to stop before the appropriate line marker or the tires may be too far away from the crosswalk, etc. This corruption tends to be the most prevalent crime that expatriates face. There were no reports of violence by police during the extortion events; however, a 2013 report involved an armed officer asking an American expat for the payment of a relatively small fine while unslinging his shotgun and bringing it to a ‘port arms’ position. The victim felt deeply threatened and paid the ‘fine,’ although the officer never stated what the violation was.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

If an American citizen is harassed or detained by the police or other security personnel, s/he should immediately call U.S. Embassy Malabo. The Embassy’s main telephone number is +(240) 333-095-741. The afterhours duty cell phone number is +(240) 222-516-008.

Crime Victim Assistance

U.S. citizens are advised to call the American Citizen Services unit at the U.S. Embassy. The afterhours duty cell phone number is +(240) 222-516-008.

In the event of an emergency, the local police are typically the first point of contact. However, police response is sometimes slow, and investigations are often never opened. Prosecutions are very slow, if they are even initiated. GREG National Security emergency services can be reached by dialing 112.

Medical Emergencies

Contact Information for Recommended Hospitals/Clinics

Malabo
La Paz Medical Center
Banades 3C Al S
Sipopo, Bioko Norte
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
Mobile: +(240) 555 500 300
Mobile : +(240) 222 091780
Phone: +(240) 556 666 154

Bata/Mainland
La Paz Medical Center-Bata
Bata, Equatorial Guinea (no address)
+(240) 222 633 344

Other local clinics in that are available:
Virgin Guadalupe Clinic (Clinica Virgen de Guadalupe)
Calle Rey Malabo, 5th block
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
Phone: +(240) 333 096 956

Clinica Santa Isabel
CLINICA STA ISABEL I
Avenida Hassan II, near the Hotel Tropicana

CLINICA STA ISABEL II
Parques de Africa, Caracolas
Malabo, Equatorial Guinea
Phone: +(240) 333 092 666

Recommended Air Ambulance Services

International SOS
Mobile: +(240) 222 217 327
24 hour Assistance Center
Tel: +(27) (0) 11 541 1300

Air Rescue Africa: +(27) (11) 541 1100 (www.airrescueafrica.co.za)

Recommended Insurance Posture

Health insurance that covers you internationally, to include in Equatorial Guinea, is strongly advised. Insurance for medical evacuation coverage is also strongly advised. Please double check with your insurance carrier prior to travel.

CDC Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance 

Current guidance for Equatorial Guinea can be found at this link: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/equatorial-guinea.htm.

Tips on How to Avoid Becoming a Victim

Situational Awareness Best Practices 

Simple personal security measures-- holding your valuables, not wearing a lot of expensive jewelry, or flashing money -- will decrease the likelihood of being targeted by criminals for petty crimes of opportunity. Travelers are advised to be aware of their surroundings at all times and to avoid unfamiliar areas with large crowds, such as public beaches. 

Pedestrians are cautioned not to wear jewelry or carry expensive items in open view. It is not advisable to display large amounts of cash, flashy jewelry, expensive clothing items, or cellular telephones. The items stolen most frequently tend to be cash and cell phones. Walking around late at night, either alone or in a group, is discouraged. 

Most expatriate residents take residential security seriously and attempt to protect their homes accordingly. Those with more resources install perimeter walls topped with anti-climb fencing, window grilles and security lighting, and have 24-hour security guards. An effective deterrent to burglaries and home invasions is the presence of a watchdog, as the local population tends to be afraid of dogs. 

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information 

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation 

Embassy of the United States in Equatorial Guinea New Airport Road, Malabo Dos

Business Hours: Monday to Thursday: 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The Embassy is closed on both American and Equatoguinean holidays. 

Embassy Contact Numbers

Embassy Operator: +(240) 333-095-741
After-Hours Emergency Line: +(240) 222-516-008 This line is for emergencies involving American citizens only. Please do not use this line for visa inquiries.
Embassy Duty: Cell: +(240) 222-516-008
Post 1: +(240) 333-095-741 ext 4396
Post 2: (after hours) +(240) 333-095-741 ext 4170
Regional Security Officer: Phone: +(240) 333-095-741 ext 4377 and Cell: +(240) 555-000-309
Consular Officer: Phone: +(240) 333-095-741 ext 4375 and Cell: +(240) 555-000-307

Email: MalaboPublic@state.gov
Website: http://malabo.usembassy.gov/

Embassy Guidance

The American Citizen Services unit provides passport, notary, and other citizenship services by appointment only. We do not accept customers without an appointment except in cases of emergency. Appointment Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. To make an ACS appointment, contact malaboconsular@state.gov.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is an OSAC Country Council in Equatorial Guinea, co-chaired by the U.S. Embassy Regional Security Officer (+(240)-555-000-309) and a private sector partner. The OSAC Country Council meets on the last Friday of each month at 4pm. Approximately 20-40 members attend these monthly meetings. To contact the OSAC Africa Team, please email OSACAF@state.gov.