On May 1, 2015, the U.S. Department of State issued a new warning against travel to the Central African Republic. The warning is reprinted below.
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all travel to the Central African Republic (CAR). The Government of Chad closed its border with CAR May 12, 2014. Only citizens of Chad returning home will be able to cross the Chad-CAR border. U.S. citizens who have decided to stay in CAR despite this warning should review their personal security situation and seriously consider departing. This replaces the Travel Warning of November 5, 2014, to reflect the risk of remaining in CAR and continued lack of security.
In March 2013, the Seleka rebel group overthrew the government of the Central African Republic. Despite the eventual creation of a transitional government in January 2014, an on-going peace and political transition process, and the presence of international peacekeepers, the security situation remains highly unstable. The sudden outbreak of violence in October 2014 serves as a reminder that the security situation is subject to rapid deterioration. Instability may be heightened as the political transition process unfolds around the upcoming Bangui Forum, constitutional referendum, and elections. Secretary Kerry announced the resumption of limited operations at the U.S. Embassy in Bangui on September 15, 2014. However, Embassy Bangui cannot provide consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR at this time. U.S. citizens in need of routine assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon by email to YaoundeACS@state.gov.
U.S. citizens in CAR in need of emergency assistance should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon; Telephone: 237 2220-1500 ext. 4341/4023 (Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. local time) Emergencies: 237 2220-1500, ext. 4531 or 237 2222-25-89; E-mail: YaoundeACS@state.gov.
If you seek information about U.S. citizen services in CAR from the Office of Overseas Citizens Services in Washington, please e-mail:CARemergencyUSC@state.gov.
If you are going to live in or travel to the Central African Republic despite this Travel Warning, please take the time to enroll 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 emergency messages.
For information on general crime and security issues, you should also consult the Department of State Country Specific Information for the Central African Republic; as well as the Worldwide Caution; located on the Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Follow us on Twitter and the Bureau of Consular Affairs page on Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips. Travelers may obtain up-to-date information on security conditions by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada, or from other countries on a regular toll-line at 1-202-501-4444.
Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/akrockefeller/
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.