Central African Republic

Stay safe & healthy

WARNING: The Central African Republic has long had one of the least effective central governments on the continent.

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) due to an unpredictable security situation subject to rapid deterioration, activities of armed groups, and violent crime. The border between Chad and CAR is currently closed. Other land border crossings may close at short notice. U.S. citizens who have decided to stay in CAR despite this warning should seriously consider departing. Embassy Bangui cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR at this time.[...] Indiscriminate violence and looting has occurred in CAR since the overthrow of the Government in March 2013. Sectarian violence is frequent and has resulted in thousands of deaths. Despite the creation of a transitional government in January 2014 and the presence of a United Nations stabilization force, the security situation remains highly fragile. Instability has increased as the political transition process unfolds around the upcoming constitutional referendum and elections which were initially scheduled for October 2015. (from the US Department of State travel warning)

Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada advises against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) due to the precarious security situation throughout the country. You should leave now if it is safe to do so. Contact the High Commission of Canada in Yaoundé, Cameroon if you require assistance.[...] (from the Government of Canada travel advisory)

Similar warnings and advice not to travel to the CAR or to leave as soon as possible if you are in the country are in force, including the following, with the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade, Cooperation and Development advising its citizens not to travel outside of Bangui and to stock up on food

Stay safe / healthy


Stay safe

Hot, dry, dusty harmattan winds affect northern areas. Floods are common.

Police manning checkpoints will demand bribes, expect no less than USD5; there are many reports that a trip from the Cameroon border to Bangui will cost hundreds of US dollars or Euros in bribes. Police will often confiscate an item (passport, camera, watch) and demand money for it. Armed robberies on roads in the country are common. Violent crime in the capital is common even in daylight, particularly around the "kilometre 5" bus station. Alcoholism is a major problem with city-dwellers, so be weary of drunks and do not even think about drinking with locals (you will be out-drunk).

In March 2003, rebel forces took over the government of the Central African Republic, and the group's leader named himself president. Despite peaceful elections in March 2005, tourists could be at risk, particularly during public gatherings. The Christian terrorist group Anti-balaka and the Islamist group Seleka with its associated jihadists still operate in the country. For the latest on the current tense security situation, see the warningbox at the top of this page.

Photography

In theory, visitors can obtain a permis de filmer from the Ministry of Tourism in Bangui with a turnaround of a couple days. In practice, however, photography is viewed with suspicion and disliked not just with the police/army around the usual sensitive locations (government buildings, infrastructure, checkpoints), but by regular people just about everywhere. Taking photos conspicuously will draw negative attention and you should ask for permission to take anyone's photo—even in public places.


Stay healthy

Some areas of Bangui have clean and filtered drinking water, so it is safe to drink water served at some restaurants and bars. However, the purity of the water is not reliable and thus it is safer to buy bottled water or boil/filter water. Outside the capital there is no guarantee of water purity. All food should be cooked or peeled prior to being served, particularly food purchased at local markets, where hygiene is a concern. If illness should arise, it is better to seek counsel with one of the doctors at an embassy (the French embassy and US embassy both have fine doctors) or at a clinic at an organisation like Institut Pasteur. The local clinics and hospitals sometimes have a limited supply of necessary resources such as syringes, medicine, etc.

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Central African Republic - Travel guide

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