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Worldworx Travel> Safety> Africa> Chad

Safety Travel Safety: Africa: Chad

Chad: Republic of Chad
Capital: N'Djamena
Population: 8,997,237
Currency: Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XAF)
Languages: French (official), Arabic (official), Sara (in south), more than 120 different languages and dialects
Religions: Muslim 51%, Christian 35%, animist 7%, other 7%
Borders: Cameroon 1,094 km, Central African Republic 1,197 km, Libya 1,055 km, Niger 1,175 km, Nigeria 87 km, Sudan 1,360 km

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION ^
Chad is a developing country in north central Africa with one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world. Chad faces challenges in the areas of political stability and economic development. Years of war, drought, and famine have severely damaged the country's institutions and its infrastructure. Facilities for tourism are limited. The capital is N'Djamena.

SECURITY AND SAFETY ^
The potential for conflict between armed insurgents and government security forces is largely confined to the Tibesti region of northwestern Chad; travel to the region poses a security risk to foreigners. Chad's northern provinces that border Libya remain heavily land-mined; travel to this area is extremely dangerous and requires permission from the Chadian government.

Visitors who are not in possession of a valid passport and a visa may experience difficulties at police roadblocks or during other checks.

Overland travel after dark is discouraged due to the activity of highway bandits.

Circumstances in refugee camps are unpredictable and may lead to violence.

U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, street demonstrations, and sensitive government installations, including the Presidential Palace, which is across from the Parade Grounds. Visitors should maintain security awareness at all times.

Americans and Westerners are perceived to be wealthy and certain precautions should be taken. Americans are advised to not leave cash or valuables unsecured in their hotel room and not to wear expensive jewelry or show large amounts of cash. Americans are also advised to dress modestly, not to walk outside after dark, and to lock their car doors.

CRIME ^
Petty crimes such as purse snatching, pickpocketing and theft from vehicles do occur, particularly in areas frequented by expatriates. Violent crime is somewhat rare. Burglary and vehicle thefts increase during times of political instability. Expatriate residences have been targeted for armed robbery, and some foreigners have been assaulted in the process. Travelers to northern Cameroon should contact the U.S. Embassy Regional Security Officer in N'Djamena prior to crossing the Chad/Cameroon border because of a high incidence of road attacks there.

CRIMINAL PENALTIES ^
While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Chad's laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Chad are strict, and convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

Under the PROTECT Act of April 2003, it is a crime, prosecutable in the United States, for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident alien, to engage in illicit sexual conduct in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18, whether or not the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident alien intended to engage in such illicit sexual conduct prior to going abroad. For purposes of the PROTECT Act, illicit sexual conduct includes any commercial sex act in a foreign country with a person under the age of 18. The law defines a commercial sex act as any sex act, on account of which anything of value is given to or received by a person under the age of 18.

Under the Protection of Children from Sexual Predators Act of 1998, it is a crime to use the mail or any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transmit information about a minor under the age of 16 for criminal sexual purposes that include, among other things, the production of child pornography. This same law makes it a crime to use any facility of interstate or foreign commerce, including the Internet, to transport obscene materials to minors under the age of 16.

MEDICAL FACILITIES ^
Medical facilities in Chad are extremely limited. Medicines are in short supply or unavailable, including many over-the-counter preparations sold in the United States. Travelers should carry any needed, properly labeled, medicines with them. In the event of major injury or illness, visitors generally will require medical evacuation.

There are two medical clinics in the capital of N'Djamena, International SOS and the Centre Medico-social de l'Ambassade de France, which provide medical service. Advance membership is required to access these two clinics.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS ^
While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning Chad is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of Public Transportation: Poor
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Poor
Rural Road Conditions /Maintenance: Poor
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Non-existent

Roads are in poor condition and dangerous. In the capital city of N'Djamena, only the main roads are paved; the rest of the roads are either hard-packed dirt or looser dirt and sand. During the summer rainy season (mid-June to mid-September) many roads become impassable or are restricted by rain barriers, while during the drier season, clouds of dust rising from the roads reduce visibility.

Visitors should take great care while driving. Both paved and unpaved roads are poorly maintained, and often have large ruts and potholes. All drivers should adjust their speed accordingly. At night, streets are not lit; it is imperative to watch for pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and livestock, which may not become visible until they are in very close proximity.

Driving in Chad tends to be erratic both in cities and in rural areas. In cities, particularly N'Djamena, motorists share the roads with bicycles, motorscooters, pedestrians, and non-motorized wheelchairs. Lanes are not marked, and it is not uncommon for a normally two-lane thoroughfare to become a four-lane road during rush hours (generally 7:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.-6:00 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 7:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Friday). Drivers are urged to be particularly observant at these times because motorists often attempt to overtake slower traffic by moving into oncoming lanes, usually at high speeds.

In rural areas, drivers should watch for livestock crossing the roads, and for large hawks that rest on the roads. These birds can be fearless, and cause much damage by smashing into drivers' windshields; drivers may avoid this by slowing down when approaching the hawks, and allowing them sufficient time to fly away. Finally, drivers should be alert to older transport trucks traveling between cities, which do not always have functioning headlights.

There are only a few traffic lights in N'Djamena, and these are often out of service. Drivers yield to traffic on their right, particularly when entering the many traffic circles.

No emergency services exist, so drivers should exercise extreme caution. Always wear seat belts. When traveling by car, be sure to carry a spare tire. Roadside service is limited to good Samaritans and children who will help push cars to the side or out of holes. When traveling outside the capital, it is imperative to carry sufficient quantities of drinking water. Drivers should ensure that their gas tanks are at least half-full at all times, as gas stations are not widely available. Gas may be purchased in an emergency in bottles from roadside stands, but it is generally of poor quality.

Travelers on roads in all areas of the country are subject to attack by armed bandits.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT ^
As there is neither direct commercial air service between the United States and Chad at present, nor economic authority to operate such service, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed Chad's Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with international aviation safety standards. For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at tel. 1-800-322-7873, or visit the FAA's Internet website at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/index.cfm.

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. (618) 229-4801.

PHOTOGRAPHY RESTRICTIONS ^
All photography requires a government permit. Photography of military sites, official buildings, and airports is strictly prohibited, even with a permit. Such sites are not always clearly marked. Film and cameras may be confiscated, often by undercover police.

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Please also refer to the separate Worldwide Caution Public Announcement.

July 21, 2004

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