Chad Country Report
Travelers to the large central African nation of Chad (population 14 million) should be aware that the country faces a number of significant threats (terrorism, sociopolitical tensions, etc.).
AREAS TO AVOID
Some Western governments advise their nationals against travel to the Lake Chad region, including areas along the shore, as well as to areas located along Chad's borders (e.g. with the Central African Republic, Libya, Niger, Sudan, Cameroon, and Nigeria).
The British government also advises its nationals against travel to the Tibesti, Borkou, and Ennedi regions, located in the north of the country, as well as the Kanem region west of the towns of Mao and Bol. The northern regions are difficult to secure due to the presence of smugglers and regular incursions by jihadists. Clashes between locals and incoming groups from other parts of the country over the control of gold mines have taken place in the Tibesti region.
Nonessential travel to the rest of the country is also generally advised against. If travel to the capital N'Djamena is necessary, minimize time crowded places, such as markets, or places of worship due to the terrorist threat.
Chad faces a high threat of terrorism. Islamist militants from the Boko Haram terrorist group are active and have committed numerous attacks in the country since 2015, notably in N'Djamena and around Lake Chad. The Lake Chad area is the convergence point of the four countries most afflicted by the West African Islamist insurgency: Chad, Cameroon, Niger, and Nigeria. In November 2016, a Chadian attacker, who was suspected of having pledged allegiance to the Boko Haram-affiliated Islamic State (IS), opened fire on guards stationed at the entrance of the American Embassy, although no one was injured.
The threat is exacerbated as Chad has a strategic partnership with France, which has built a military base for Operation Barkhane in N'Djamena as well as two temporary bases in Abeche and Faya to target terrorist groups throughout the Sahel region. In addition, the Chadian army is part of an N'Djamena-based Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) comprised of Nigerian, Nigerien, Chadian, Cameroonian, and Beninese troops, founded in September 2015 to combat Boko Haram.
Security checkpoints have been implemented in the capital, requiring everyone to carry identification documents, vehicle registration papers, and a residency permit or visa when moving around the city. Remain calm and cooperative when dealing with security forces.
The risk of kidnapping as a tactical terrorist strategy remains high across the country, particularly for French and other Western nationals.
The domestic political situation should be monitored. Relations between the political opposition, especially Saleh Kebzabo, and President Idriss Déby remain tense. President Déby's reelection for a 5th term on April 2016 has been controversial. As a result, numerous protests have taken place despite a ban, leading to violent crackdowns by security forces and arrests of opposition members. All protests should be avoided as a precaution.
In October 2016, the opposition unsuccessfully submitted a motion of no confidence against the government to denounce its failure in dealing with a severe economic and financial crisis affecting the country.
Déby announced in February 2017 that parliamentary elections would be postponed until further notice, claiming the country does not have the funds to hold the elections due to falling oil prices. The elections had initially been scheduled for 2015.
Chad's economy has been severely impacted by the country's fight against Boko Haram and a sharp fall in global oil prices, oil revenues historically making up around 70 percent of Chad's export income. Austerity measures introduced by the government, including lowered public servant salaries, less money available for student scholarships, and even the non-payment of civil servant salaries, along with a lack of job opportunities has led to an increase in civil unrest across the country. Highly disruptive strikes and demonstrations are regularly held, notably by professors, public hospital workers, and civil servants.
This increased socioeconomic turmoil has led to a decline in living conditions for many Chadians. Nearly 55 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. Life expectancy is 49 years and the child mortality rate is among the highest in the world.
Moreover, 3.8 million Chadians are facing a significant humanitarian crisis that includes chronic food insecurity, undernourishment, natural disasters, epidemics, and massive population displacements.
Food insecurity affects one-fifth of the population. At the beginning of 2017, around 440,000 children were suffering from acute malnutrition. Most of the affected population is found in the Sahel region and in areas where refugees, IDPs, and returning refugees are present.
Furthermore, Chad hosts more than 400,000 refugees who fled violence in Nigeria (from Boko Haram), the Central African Republic, Sudan (Darfur), and Libya. The protracted nature of these population movements heavily affects the ecological and economic resources of the country, further aggravating the deteriorated living conditions of the local population.
Security threats prevailing in the Lake Chad region hamper humanitarian efforts for the affected population.
Chad has been struggling with rising crime rates as the economy deteriorates, with foreign nationals often particularly targeted. Cases of assassinations, kidnappings-for-ransom, armed robberies, and assault are increasingly reported, especially in N'Djamena. On March 23, 2017, a French national was kidnapped in the southeastern Sila region before being freed on May 7.
The American Embassy has issued advisories regarding the rising crime rates, particularly as regards to restaurants, hotels, and other places popular with foreigners in the capital. It is advised to avoid the Moursal and Chagoua neighborhoods as well as the eastern parts of N'Djamena. Travelers should exercise particular caution in the vicinity of the Presidential Palace (Avenue Felix Éboué).
It is recommended to avoid walking around in N'Djamena and refrain from carrying large sums of money, jewelry, or other objects of value.
Cases of carjacking are regularly reported in the capital, especially in residential areas. Attacks by highway bandits are common outside the capital, particularly on national roads. They can be violent.
Prior to departure, travelers should purchase a health insurance covering overseas care and medical repatriation, the latter often necessary in the event of a significant or urgent health issue.
Travelers entering Chad from an area at risk of yellow fever transmission are required to present a certificate of immunization upon arrival. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the vaccination for all travelers (aged nine months or over) to areas south of the Sahara Desert. Malaria, another mosquito-borne disease, is endemic in Chad.
Tap water is not drinkable. Diarrheal diseases are frequent in the country. It is recommended to only drink bottled water, make sure food is thoroughly cooked, and wash hands regularly.
To minimize the risk of parasitic infection, avoid contact with bodies of stagnant water (ponds, lakes) and avoid walking barefoot outdoors.
Note that rates of HIV/AIDS are high.
Measles and meningitis are sometimes reported (Chad is located in Africa's "meningitis belt"). Meningitis cases are most often reported during the hot season (particularly between mid-February and April).
Finally, public health infrastructure is weak; in the event of an emergency, seek assistance in private health facilities and/or repatriation.
Despite development efforts, the country suffers from inadequate and degraded road infrastructure - except in N'Djamena where roads are paved. During the rainy season (July to October), roads are generally unreliable, especially in the south.
In N'Djamena and throughout the country, it is advised to drive with doors locked and windows rolled up due to the carjacking risk.
Minimize travel by foot in the capital.
Security checkpoints are common, particularly around sensitive sites (e.g. the airport). Stop at all roadblocks erected by security forces and comply with demands. Note that vehicles with tinted windows are prohibited.
For all travel outside the capital, an authorization from the Ministry of the Interior is necessary. Furthermore, long-distance road travel can be extremely dangerous. Armed highway bandits are active and often violent. Deadly road accidents are common, in part due to the non-observance of traffic laws by other drivers, lack of public lighting, poorly-maintained vehicles, and the lack of medical care facilities. All night travel should be avoided. Furthermore, accidents, particularly fatal ones, can incite a violent reaction from locals.
Outside major cities, travel should be conducted with an all-terrain vehicle (4x4), preferably within a convoy, with adequate supplies of water, food, fuel, spare mechanic parts (tires, cables, etc.), and effective means of communication. Fuel is easy to come by in major cities but difficult elsewhere.
The north of the country in particular lacks decent road infrastructure, with some notable exceptions (e.g. the road linking the Libyan border with Ounianga Kebir and Faya-Largeau and the road linking N'Djamena with Faya-Largeau, Faya, and Abeche). Furthermore, minefields may be present in areas along the border with Libya. Finally, as noted above, the region is difficult to secure due to prevalent illegal trafficking in the area and regular jihadists incursions.
Only 6.4 percent of the population has access to electricity. Even in N'Djamena, power cuts are common.
Means of communication remain unreliable nationwide, including in the capital, due to infrastructural deficiencies. In addition, authorities sometimes cut access to mobile and social networks (e.g. Facebook, Twitter).
Flooding is common in many areas of the country, particularly in the south and the east, during the rainy season (July to October).
The population is majority Muslim. In July 2015, however, the national authorities prohibited women from wearing full-face veils and men from wearing turbans.
The use of vehicles with tinted windows is prohibited.
It is forbidden to photograph some state infrastructure (government buildings, airports, bridges, etc.) and members of the security forces.
The climate is arid in the north of the country, Sahelian in the center, and tropical in the south. In the north days are very hot and nights are cool and the area receives very little rainfall. In the center of the country, the rainy season lasts from March until October. In the south, the rainy season lasts from May until late September. During the dry season (December-April) temperatures are very high (particularly between mid-February and April); the air is dried out by the Harmattan, a hot and dry trade wind from the Sahara that passes over the country from north to south.
Useful NumbersCountry Code: +235
There are no emergency services in the country.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz
Chad: Suspected Boko Haram attack in Ngouboua Feb. 21
TIMEFRAME: from 2/23/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/26/2018, 11:59 PM (Africa/Ndjamena).
Chad: National journalist strike Feb. 21
TIMEFRAME: from 2/21/2018, 12:00 AM until 2/23/2018, 11:59 PM (Africa/Ndjamena).