11 July 2012

Central African Republic: U.S. Travel Warning: Central African Republic

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Washington, DC — The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risks of traveling to the Central African Republic (CAR), and recommends against all but essential travel outside the capital, Bangui. Travelers in the CAR should exercise extreme caution. This replaces the Travel Warning of January 4, 2012 to reflect a change in contact information.

Armed militia groups, bandits, and poachers present real dangers, and the Central African government is unable to guarantee the safety of visitors in most parts of the country. There have been repeated attacks on Central African and expatriate travelers in the countryside. Attacks in past months have occurred as close as 70 kilometers from Bangui.

Poachers and armed men also pose a threat to game hunters in northern and eastern CAR. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) poses a similar threat to hunters in eastern CAR.

Bangui suffers from elevated crime rates for both petty and violent crime, as well as particularly limited transport and medical options.

CAR military and civilian security forces (and people posing as such) staff checkpoints throughout the city, frequently harassing residents and international visitors for bribes. Spontaneous demonstrations take place in CAR from time to time in response to world events or local developments. We remind you that even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence.

You are therefore urged to avoid the areas of demonstrations if possible, and to exercise caution if within the vicinity of any public gatherings. You should stay current with media coverage of local events and be aware of their surroundings at all times.

In some cases, U.S. citizens have been arrested and detained without due process and housed in harsh prison conditions. The CAR government has at times denied consular access to U.S. citizen prisoners and moved them to other facilities without informing the U.S. Embassy.

The U.S. Embassy staff in Bangui can provide only limited services to U.S. citizens at this time. Following the evacuation of all U.S. staff in 2002, the U.S. Embassy in Bangui resumed operations in January 2005 with limited staffing. U.S. citizens should be aware that only very basic services are presently available. Additional information can be found at the Embassy Bangui website.

If you are going to live in or travel to the Central African Republic despite this Travel Warning, please take the time to tell us about your trip by enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). By enrolling in STEP, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements.

Enrolling in STEP will also make it easier for us to contact you in the event of an emergency. You should remember to keep all of your information in STEP up to date; it is particularly important when you enroll or update your information to include a current phone number and e-mail address in order to receive the Embassy's emergency messages. U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the U.S. Embassy in Bangui.

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