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Central African Republic Travel Warning

Issued by US Department of State

Aug 09, 2007

This Travel Warning is being reissued to alert Americans of heightened security concerns as a result of fighting between rebels and government forces in the north prefectures of the country. It supersedes the travel warning for the Central African Republic issued March 6, 2007.

American citizens are strongly advised not to travel to the Central African Republic (CAR) until further notice. Active rebel movements are still present in the northern regions of the country. In the northwestern prefectures of Ouham and Ouham-Pende, roadblocks by rebels and by government forces pose a serious and continuing threat to aid workers and travelers. Fighting between rebels and government forces has forced much of the population near the town of Ngaounday to flee into neighboring Cameroon and Chad. An expatriate aid worker was killed in an attack on a well-marked vehicle north of Bocaranga in June 2007.

U.S.-sponsored development and aid work in the northwest area has been temporarily suspended, and U.S. Government employees on temporary duty and other contract visitors to the Mission will not be allowed to visit the northwestern or northeastern CAR prefectures without specific authorization of the Chief of Mission.

Rebels and armed men are also present in the northeastern Vakaga prefecture, and pose a threat to travelers in that area. The rebels wish to overthrow the constitutionally-elected president and seek new elections, and continue to pose a threat to travelers despite recent tentative steps in the peace process.

In addition, highway bandits ("coupeurs de route" in French) pose a serious threat to travelers throughout the country. Two World Health Organization physicians were murdered by unidentified assailants outside Bossembélé in April 2006. There have been repeated attacks on Central African and expatriate travelers on the Berberati-Carnot-Baoro-Bouar-Bozoum axis. The U.S. Embassy in Bangui strongly discourages American citizens, including aid, development, and religious workers, from traveling on these roads at any time of day or night.

Poachers and armed men also pose a threat to game hunters in the north central CAR, in and around the "Parc National de Bamingui-Bangoran." A French hunter was murdered in a targeted attack on a hunting party that included an American outside the town of Ndele in April 2007. The poachers in this area are heavily armed, often with automatic weapons, and outside local and national government authority.

The Central African government is unable to guarantee the safety of visitors in most parts of the country. The U.S. Embassy advises its personnel to exercise caution in traveling to all parts of the country. In addition to the above warnings, the Embassy recommends that Americans traveling outside the capital not travel with a CAR military escort, or any armed escort, as the armed escort may draw fire from rebel troops.

U.S. citizens already in the Central African Republic should contact the American Embassy in Bangui to verify their locations and contact points. They should avoid travel outside the capital unless absolutely necessary and exercise caution at all times, particularly at public gatherings. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid the area around the Presidential Palace in Bangui and to exercise caution if they encounter presidential guards. The presidential guards have various checkpoints around the Palace and have harassed official personnel driving in that area.

There are approximately 300 peacekeeping troops from neighboring member countries of the Economic and Monetary Union of Central Africa (CEMAC) that move in and out of the capital. CAR security forces, sometimes with French military assistance, staff checkpoints throughout the city. Some crimes are perpetrated by uniformed CAR security and military personnel. In particular, military elements charged with presidential security are likely to be aggressive and belligerent. Activities of the Presidential Guard throughout the CAR indicate that they operate with near-total impunity.

The U.S. Embassy in Bangui has just three American officers and can provide only limited emergency services to U.S. citizens at this time.

U.S. citizens in the CAR are strongly urged to register on the State Department's web site at https://travelregistration.state.gov. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Bangui. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy to contact them in case of emergency.

The U.S. Embassy in the CAR is located at Avenue David Dacko, B.P. 924, Bangui; tel. (236) 61-02-00; fax (236) 61-44-94. For additional information on safety and security in the CAR, contact the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon, at telephone (237) 220-1500, fax (237) 220-1572; web site http://yaounde.usembassy.gov/. Americans may also obtain updated information from the American Embassy in N'djamena, Chad, at telephone (235) 51-70-09, 51-92-33 or 51-90-52; fax (235) 51-56-54; web site http://ndjamena.usembassy.gov/.

U.S. citizens should also consult the Department of State's most recent Consular Information Sheet for Central African Republic and the Worldwide Caution Public Announcement, which are located on the Department's web site at http://travel.state.gov. Up-to-date information on safety and security is also available at 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the U.S. and Canada, or for callers from other countries, on a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).

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