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WARNINGS AND ADVISE

 

Exercise a high degree of caution

There is no nationwide advisory in effect for Cameroon. However, tourists should exercise a high degree of caution due to an increase in violent crime in some regions and the rising tensions in the Sahel region. Keep an eye on political and social developments, as in the past some public demonstrations have turned violent.

As one should always do while traveling, be aware of your surroundings and use your best judgment. Be alert when traveling at night or in crowded areas and when traveling near the borders of Chad and the Central African Republic.

Regional Advisory for the Far North region

Advises against all travel to the Far North region. The growing presence of extremist groups has resulted in an increase of kidnappings and banditry in this region. The most recent kidnapping, involving a Canadian and two Italians, took place on April 5, 2014.

Regional Advisory

 Advises against non-essential travel to the following regions:

  • The areas within 40 km of the borders with Nigeria, Chad and the Central African Republic; due to carjacking, assaults, kidnappings and other forms of armed banditry

    A state of emergency is in effect in the Nigerian states of Borno and Adamawa, which border northwest Cameroon. Instability in these provinces could spill over into Cameroon.

    Security risks have increased along the border with Nigeria as a result of the situation in Mali, which has prompted terrorist groups in the region to declare their intention to increase attacks and kidnappings targeting Westerners.

  • The Bakassi Peninsula; various forms of banditry have been reported in this area due to its isolated location. The risk of social tensions has increased since the end of the Green Tree Agreement (August 2013).
  • Lake Nyos in the North West Province; emitted carbon dioxide suffocating about 1,700 people in 1986. There were no warning signs that this would happen and it could happen again at any time. There is also a concern that the wall of the dam holding back Lake Nyos is not sufficiently strong. Nearby Lake Mounoun is also saturated with CO2.

 

Regional Advisory for the Gulf of Guinea

Advises against all maritime travel to the Gulf of Guinea, due to piracy and kidnappings by rebel groups. These attacks have become increasingly frequent, even targeting larger vessels and petroleum platforms.

Crime

Violent assault and robbery are on the rise in the Melong area, especially against foreign tourists. Hiking around the region is strongly discouraged. Avoid staying at the hotels in the Mount Manengouba and Twin Lakes areas.

Violent crime is on the rise, particularly in Yaoundé and Douala. Armed burglaries and attacks are common in urban centres, in tourist areas in the north, and on rural highways. Do not resist robberies as perpetrators may use violence. Violent assaults on taxi passengers can occur.

Petty theft is prevalent and occurs on trains, buses and taxis. The Hilton and Mont Fébé hotels offer a shuttle service from Nsimalen Airport to downtown Yaoundé. You should use this service or arrange to be met, especially after dark. Avoid isolated and poorer areas of Yaoundé, in particular la Briquetterie, Mokolo, and Mvog-Ada. Avoid travelling alone or after dark. Do not show signs of affluence.

Fraud

Cases of attempted fraud are frequently reported in Cameroon.

Common types of scams

Although most tourists are now aware of fraud attempts carried out by companies or individuals in foreign countries, especially in Africa, many tourists are still victimised and cheated out of merchandise, services and money. Nigeria, Ghana, Togo, Burkina Faso, the Ivory Coast, Morocco, Algeria, Guinea, Senegal and Benin are some of the countries where fraud is a popular and lucrative activity.

Common types of commercial or professional scams include

  • emails in which a foreign company requires you to send it a fee or merchandise in order to obtain a contract with its government
  • emails and calls offering to sell you merchandise such as crude oil or precious stones and making business proposals on the condition that you travel to the country in question
  • announcements offering to sell you exotic or domestic animals from foreign countries, with advance payment required 
  • emails promising to help you secure a visa or guaranteeing you a job abroad
  • emails or calls asking you to make a charitable donation to an organization and asking for information on which bank account you will use
  • loan offers from shadow banks in foreign countries, in which your personal information is required in order to open an account
  • vacation home rental offers from fake agencies using false addresses and altered photos of the home to be rented

 

Other types of personal scams include

  • emails from fictitious foreign organizations promising you an inheritance, a prize or money and asking for payment for mailing costs or taxes
  • emails promising you financial compensation in exchange for wiring money through your personal bank account
  • calls from a con artist posing as a foreign doctor or health care professional who contacts the family and friends of a tourist traveller and informs them that the traveller is in the hospital and that money is required for medical treatment
  • falsified emails in which a con artist poses as a tourist traveller known by the target who is stuck in a foreign country after being the victim of theft, an accident or kidnapping, and claims he or she needs money to pay for hotel or hospital bills, visas and/or airplane tickets
  • false Internet friendships or cyber-romances in which a con artist claims to want to come to your country and asks you for financial assistance or help obtaining an entry visa. Treat any request for money with suspicion.
  • marriage schemes resulting from Internet-based relationships. You may be the victim of extortion by in-laws living abroad or be forced to sponsor a spouse who will abandon you after arriving in your country. These types of situations are especially common in Morocco, Algeria, Guinea and Senegal.
  • letters or announcements advertising the private adoption of a child. A foreign con artist poses as the mother of a child or as a lawyer in charge of finding an adoptive family and describes a difficult situation, often providing fake photos of a child.
  • letters addressed to former victims of fraud from fictitious organizations that claim to have successfully caught the con artists and promising compensation for losses incurred the first time.
  • death notices sent to the loved ones of a tourist traveller by a fictitious foreign funeral home asking them to send money to repatriate the body to the home country. Counterfeit pieces of identification are often used.

Scams can not only cause considerable financial losses, but many of them can also be a serious threat to the personal safety of the victims. Many victims are convinced to travel to an African country to complete a business transaction, accept a job, get married or to try to recover money sent to the con artist. Some cases have resulted in violent situations, including kidnappings and forced imprisonment.

Warning: Sophisticated scams on the rise

Every day, new cases are reported in which tourists have requested consular assistance after having their safety compromised by a scam. It is predicted that the number of victims will continue to rise. In many countries, con artists operate without consequences because local authorities often do not have the physical or financial resources needed to combat Internet crimes.

Organized fraud networks are developing more and more innovative and sophisticated approaches to deceive their victims and to extort small or large amounts of money. The criminals conduct extensive searches to create credible documents: complete profiles of fictitious businesses, medical reports, falsified export certificates, etc. The names and logos of reputable organizations, governments and government agencies are often used fraudulently. Websites that appear very authentic are also falsified.

Another type of overseas fraud involves con artists falsely representing themselves as your country embassy staff, such as consular officers and even ambassadors. If you are approached by someone claiming to work for your country government office abroad who offers you unsolicited assistance, verify the identity of the individual by contacting the embassy or consulate where they claim to be employed.

How can you protect yourself?

  • Any unsolicited business proposal should be carefully examined before you send any money, provide a service or merchandise, or make travel arrangements.
  • Verify your interlocutor's identity by doing a web search. If your interlocutor is a professional (i.e. a doctor, a lawyer, a member of the police force), check with the relevant professional association in the country, without using the contact details that he/she provided.
  • Be wary of any unsolicited business proposal. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Before completing a transaction, do some research to ensure that the proposed method of payment is legitimate, or demand full payment in advance.
  • Be cautious of requests for signed and stamped blank letterhead or invoices.
  • Be cautious of solicitors claiming that your name was provided by someone you do not know.
  • Be cautious of professional messages written with poor grammar or with an inappropriate level of language. The country’s official language should normally be used.
  • Be cautious of job offers for which the conditions seem too good to be true (unrealistic salary, paid vacations, extended holidays) or job offers that require you to pay for initial travel or required documents.
  • Never disclose your banking information, even if the solicitor claims to need the information to deposit a signing bonus.
  • Verify entry requirements (visas) and government immigration policies in the country you plan to visit on business. No outside organization or agency should be involved in issuing travel documents. Letters addressed to immigration officers are not valid.

Be cautious when travelling to meet individuals met on the internet.

  • Verify the identity of the person you plan to meet abroad.
  • Keep in mind that unsuspecting individuals have been used as drug mules by people they met on the Internet.
  • Remember that for a foreign spouse, marrying a foreigner citizen can represent a way to obtain an immigration visa. A number of tourists have left their jobs and their homes and have sold all of their belongings for a marriage abroad that ended up failing or that never took place.
  • Find out in advance about the laws and customs on relationships and marriage in the destination country. 
  • Travel to the destination country with a return ticket and enough money to stay in a hotel, and keep all of your travel documents in a safe location.

 

Road travel

Major roads are in good condition but others are damaged and unsafe. Reckless driving, use of poorly maintained vehicles and lack of respect for traffic laws are common. Keep windows closed and doors locked at all times.

Avoid driving after dark in rural areas and on the main road between Yaoundé and Douala. The presence of livestock and pedestrians on the roadway, and the lack of road and traffic signs pose hazards. Local police roadblocks are erected throughout the country, and you may be expected to make payments. Ask the officer to provide a ticket with a description of the violation(s). This ticket can be paid at a local court or at a police station.

Particular attention should be paid when travelling on roads in the Far North region near the Nigerian border. These regions, especially between Garoua and Kousseri in the Northern regions, are notorious for armed highway bandits, or "coupeurs de routes". Four-wheel-drive vehicles are targeted.

In the event of an accident, you should, if possible, go to the next police station or to the High Commission of your country in Yaoundé or to the Consulate of your country in Douala to get assistance.

If travelling overland, carry sufficient supplies of water, food and fuel, as well as a reliable means of communication, such as a satellite or cellular telephone.

It is difficult to depart Cameroon via the land borders with Gabon and the Central African Republic due to poor road conditions, particularly during the rainy season. The border with Equatorial Guinea is frequently closed. You are advised to contact local authorities for the most current information.

You should always carry your driving permit and your vehicle's registration documents.

Public transportation

Buses link Yaoundé to Douala, Bafoussam, Bamenda, Foumban and Dschang. Trains run daily between Yaoundé and the cities of N'Gaoundéré and Douala. Regular flights connect Yaoundé, Douala, Maroua, Garoua, N'Gaoundéré and several other cities.

General safety information

Carefully evaluate the security risks before deciding to travel to any location in Cameroon. Monitor news reports, and follow the advice of local authorities.

Stay informed of the security situation in the region in which you are travelling, and ensure that your hotel is safe.

You should carry certified copies of identification and travel documents at all times and keep originals in a safe place, such as a hotel safe. Tourist facilities are limited. Avoid shopping on the street. If possible, have a guide or buy from established shops.

Energy supply is poorly managed and power outages occur all over the country. Inadvertent power cuts are a daily occurrence and may last over eight hours. You are advised to turn off your electrical appliances before leaving your place of residence. Domestic gas may also be in short supply, especially during holiday periods such as December and January.