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Saturday, February 9, 2019

Urgent: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to Limbe in Fako division (South West region) and against all travel to North West region and the rest of South West region

Summary – changes to advice to travel; the FCO now advise against all but essential travel to Limbe in Fako division (South West region) and against all travel to North West region and the rest of South West region; the town of Garoua in North region now falls within the area where the FCO advise against all but essential travel; Safety and security section and summary - addition of information about extended general strike in the Anglophone regions.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advise against all travel to:

Far North regionwithin 40km of the border with Nigeria, except Garoua in North region (see below)within 40km of the border with Chadwithin 40km of the border with the Central African Republic (CAR)North West regionSouth West region (including the towns of Buea, Muyuka and Tiko in Fako division), except Limbe in Fako division (see below)the Bakassi Peninsula

The FCO advise against all but essential travel to:

Limbe in Fako division, South West regionThe rest of North and Adamawa regions, including Garoua in North region

On 26 January 2019, the opposition MRC party held protests in Yaounde, Douala, Bafoussam and other towns in the West Region. Police fired rubber bullets and used tear gas to disperse protesters. Six people were injured and several arrested. You should remain vigilant, avoid large gatherings and monitor local media.

General strikes (or ‘ghost towns’) are called in the North West and South West (Anglophone) regions for each Monday, with additional days often called in particular periods including February and October. Violence and travel disruption is regularly reported on these days. You should be vigilant, monitor local media and avoid travelling within the region on such days.

Since 4 February there has been an extended general strike imposed by armed separatists in the region. There have been reports of loss of life. Urban transport in towns and cities has been affected, vehicular traffic in and out of the region is restricted, and incidents of sporadic gunfire have occurred, including shooting in Bamenda, Buea and the outskirts of Limbe. If you’re planning travel to or within areas of the Anglophone regions where the FCO advise against all or all but essential travel, you should consider carefully the risks of travel at this time, monitor developments closely, keep a low profile and minimise your movements.

There have also been multiple clashes between the Cameroonian security forces and armed groups over the past year in many places in the two Anglophone regions. In January and February 2019, clashes between the army and armed separatists were reported in the towns of Bafut, Tubah, Ndu, Widikum and in Lebialem division. Restrictions including night curfews and a ban on public meetings, which were imposed following violent and deadly clashes in 2017, remain in place. There is a high risk of violent criminality especially at night. Remain vigilant and keep in touch with developments through local media. See Anglophone regions

Terrorists are very likely to try to carry out attacks in Cameroon. The terrorist group Boko Haram and the Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) is active in the Far North region but attacks could occur anywhere, potentially including major towns and cities such as Yaoundé and Douala. There have been numerous suicide attacks since 2015, which have resulted in over 200 dead in the Far North region, although since 2017 these have been predominately adjacent to the border with Nigeria. Key targets have been large open markets, hotels, parks and sporting venues. There have also been hostages taken and heavy gunfights reported in Babouang and Mbarang in Adamawa region (Cameroon).

There is a heightened threat of kidnap to western nationals in the north of Cameroon, including in the major cities and along the border between the Far North region and Nigeria. Boko Haram has publicly threatened Cameroon with attacks and further kidnappings due to Cameroon’s involvement in the regional fight to counter Boko Haram.

There have been reports of criminality including large armed gangs and highway bandits, stopping travellers, taking hostages and demanding payment, particularly in the east of Cameroon, close to the Central African Republic (CAR) border. There are frequent instances of violence in CAR spilling across the border to Cameroon.

Criminality by large gangs and hostage taking for ransom are also a threat more widely in Adamawa region. In January 2017, an armed group attacked a UN border monitoring team near the Nigerian border killing 5 people.

Nigerian military operations in the states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa in Nigeria could have an impact across the border in Cameroon.

Travel at night across Cameroon should be avoided unless absolutely necessary due to criminality, poor infrastructure, and erratic driving.

UK health authorities have classified Cameroon as having a risk of Zika virus transmission. For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website.

There are increased reports of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Take great care when travelling in coastal waters, including the coastline of Cameroon and the Doula port. Despite the high crime levels, most visits to Cameroon are trouble-free. Only a few British nationals needed consular assistance in the past year.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. Consular support is severely limited in parts of Cameroon (particularly East, Far North, North-West and South-West).

Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.

Source: UK Government