U.S. State Dept. Updates Cameroon Travel Warning, Feb. 4, 2015

Map of CameroonWashington DC–(ENEWSPF)–February 4, 2015. The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the high risk of traveling to Cameroon and cautions U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Far North region of Cameroon. This replaces the Travel Warning of August 6, 2014 and updates information on the continuing threat of kidnappings and other armed attacks in the Far North region of Cameroon.

The Boko Haram terrorist group is active in the Far North, and has actively targeted foreign expatriates resident in Cameroon, tourists and government leaders. In early January 2015, a video was released via YouTube, in which the alleged leader of Boko Haram threatens Cameroonian President Paul Biya and announces intensified action by Boko Haram against targets within Cameroon. On January 12, 2015, Boko Haram fighters attacked a Cameroonian military camp in Kolofata, near the Nigerian border, resulting in the unconfirmed deaths of 143 militants and one Cameroonian soldier. On January 1, 2015, 11 civilian passengers traveling between Mora and Waza by bus were executed by suspected Boko Haram militants. On December 27, 2014, Boko Haram attacked a military base at Achigachia, killing seven Cameroonian soldiers. Boko Haram is also suspected of planting an improvised explosive device that killed three soldiers near Limani on December 14, 2014. On July 25, 2014 over 200 suspected Boko Haram operatives conducted a coordinated attack on two compounds in Kolofata. The wife of the Vice Prime Minister of Cameroon and several others were kidnapped from the Vice PM’s compound, while Kolofata’s mayor and religious leader and several others were kidnapped from the mayor’s compound. Several civilians were killed in the joint operation. Twenty one expatriates have been kidnapped since 2013. The most recent kidnapping of expatriates occurred May 16, 2014 from a site near the town of Waza, 12 miles from the Nigerian border. Also, on April 4, 2014, attackers kidnapped two Italian priests and a Canadian nun during the night from their residences in Tchere, near the city of Maroua, located approximately 60 kilometers from the Nigerian border. A French priest was kidnapped from the town of Nguetchewe in November 2013, and a French family of seven (three adults and four children) was kidnapped while traveling near Waza National Park in February 2013. Boko Haram and an affiliated group, Ansaru, were responsible for the kidnappings of the French victims, and are believed to be responsible for the latest kidnappings in May 2014.

Boko Haram’s leaders have stated and demonstrated through their actions over the past year that they are actively seeking to kidnap “Westerners,” including U.S. citizens traveling to or living in the Far North and North regions of Cameroon. In November 2013, the State Department designated Boko Haram and Ansaru as Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Several large weapons caches attributed to Boko Haram were discovered in Cameroon and confiscated by authorities in 2013 and 2014, signaling the active presence of the group and pointing to the likelihood of additional attacks. All areas in the Far North region of Cameroon are affected by this warning.

The U.S. Embassy also urges U.S. citizens to exercise extreme caution when traveling in the North and Adamaoua regions of Cameroon, especially in areas that are within 100 kilometers of Cameroon’s border with Adamawa State, Nigeria, and north of Ngaoundere in the Adamaoua region of Cameroon.

The U.S. Embassy continues to maintain restrictions on travel by U.S. official personnel to the North and Far North regions of Cameroon, as well as any travel north of Ngaoundere in the Adamaoua region. Official personnel are only permitted to travel to these areas if the travel is deemed mission-essential, and all officials proposing such travel must receive advance clearance by the U.S. Embassy.

Travel Warnings are in place for countries bordering Cameroon on the west, north and east: Nigeria, Chad, and the Central African Republic (CAR). The Embassy advises U.S. citizens to consult travel warnings for these countries as well when considering travel in areas of Cameroon bordering these countries, as violence and banditry in border areas can quickly spill over into Cameroon.

In March 2013, the Seleka rebel group overthrew the government of the Central African Republic in violent clashes with the CAR military and foreign troops. Despite an on-going peace process and the creation of a transitional government, the security situation remains highly unstable. The U.S. Embassy in Bangui resumed limited operations on September 15, 2014, but remains unable to provide consular services to U.S. citizens in CAR at this time. U.S. citizens in need of routine consular services should contact the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon by email at [email protected] Violence in CAR spilled over into the Adamaoua and East regions of Cameroon in isolated incidents over the past year.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Cameroon enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to stay up to date with the latest security updates, and so that the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate is able to contact U.S. citizens in an emergency. U.S. citizens without internet access can enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

We urge U.S. citizens traveling abroad to regularly monitor the Bureau of Consular Affairs website to find current Travel Warnings, (including the Travel Warning for Cameroon), Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution. U.S. citizens traveling to Cameroon are urged to read the Country Specific Information for Cameroon. For additional information, refer to the Traveler’s Checklist on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé is located at Avenue Rosa Parks close to the Mont Febe Golf Club. The telephone number is +237 22220-1500 ext. 4341/4023. The number for after-hours emergencies is +237 22220-1500 ext. 4531. The fax number is +237 22220-1572. The Embassy’s e-mail address is [email protected].

Source: state.gov