Spotlight City: Yaoundé, Cameroon

Spotlight City: Yaoundé, Cameroon

Yaoundé is the second largest city (after Douala) and capital of Cameroon, with a population of 2.5 million. Although Cameroon’s economic activity is focused in Douala, a port city, Yaoundé is a bustling city home to Cameroon’s political powers. Most of the local population is Francophone, although quite a number are proficient with English as well. Crime in Yaoundé presents a fairly significant risk to safety and visitors should take a number of precautions.

Threats and Risks to Travelers in Yaoundé

Crime in Yaoundé may pose a security risk to travelers. Assaults, burglaries, muggings and armed robberies have been known to occur in the urban centre of the city, often targeting foreign tourists. Petty crime also occurs with high frequency. Pickpocketing and purse-snatching are the two most common forms of street crime. November and December witness the highest rates of street crime, break-ins, robberies and banditry.

Pickpockets and thieves often target travelers. They generally operate in crowded, public areas, such as on public transit or in marketplaces. Wallets and phones should be secured and kept in a safe location on your person. Business travelers should take care never to leave their laptop or other electronics unattended in public areas.

The risk of terrorism in Yaoundé is present due to Cameroon’s regional military offense against Boko Haram. Be aware of local reports for terrorist group activity, and be extremely vigilant in crowded public areas like markets, government buildings, hotels, and places of worship.

In rural areas, roads may be poorly paved. Conditions deteriorate rapidly during bad weather; exercise extreme caution while driving.

Best Practices for Personal Security in Yaoundé

In general, be aware of your surroundings in Yaoundé and always be conscious of your belongings in public. Keep valuables and bags within view. Be aware of locations and situations that could make you vulnerable to crime, such as lane ways, isolated parks and buildings, back streets and poorly lit parking lots. If possible, do not travel alone. Do not show signs of affluence.

Avoid the run-down areas and slums of Yaoundé, such as La Briquetterie and Mokolo market. The risk of falling victim to violent crime in these regions is high. Ignore street beggars and anyone attempting to sell you goods or services on the streets.

Avoid hiring unmarked or unofficial freelance taxis. There have been reports of crimes committed against patrons of these vehicles, in the form of robberies or kidnappings.

Be aware of falling victim to scam artists in Yaoundé. Avoid giving out personal information and be wary of people attempting to solicit you for money in exchange for goods or services.

What to Do in an Emergency

In the event of an emergency, dial 17 on landline for police (117 on cell), 18 on landline for fire (118 on cell), and 112 for ambulance. Contact the representation of your country in Cameroon as they may be able to provide further assistance. Be aware that the local police force has been plagued by corruption and is often ineffectiveness in providing genuine assistance.

Enjoy Your Trip!

Yaoundé’s interesting history includes being an agricultural research station under German occupation and a rubber and ivory trading post in the late 1880’s. After Imperial Germany’s defeat in World War I, Yaoundé was held under French rule as a mandate of the League of Nations, and was chosen to become the capital of the colony in 1922. It has since served as the seat of Cameroon’s government even past independence. Today, Yaoundé remains the political heart of the country and has strong relevance in Central African as a gathering place for international diplomacy.


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