Liberia Travel Warning
Issued by US Department of State
Aug 02, 2004
This Travel Warning is being issued to update security information on Liberia. The Department of State continues to urge American citizens to defer non-essential travel. This supersedes the Travel Warning of January 7, 2004.
There is no effective police force in Liberia at this time, and UNMIL peacekeepers likely will not be fully deployed for several more months. On December 7, 2003, the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) began its disarmament program, through which armed combatants exchange their weapons for payment. The influx of personnel to that site resulted in increased incidents of armed robbery in the area of the weapons collection zone. Subsequent disarmament exchanges have gone more smoothly, but the potential for volatility remains.
The disarmament program is expected to continue for many months, at multiple sites throughout the country. For the immediate future, more occurrences of localized violence are possible, particularly in and around disarmament sites.
Although the Department of State lifted the Ordered Departure status for non-emergency employees of the U.S. Embassy in Monrovia in September 2003, the Department of State continues to urge U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Liberia. The US Embassy has imposed restrictions on travel outside Monrovia by personnel due to security concerns. Private Americans who remain in or travel to Liberia despite this Warning should avoid travel into the interior of the country. The situation in Monrovia and other areas outside the zones of conflict remains unpredictable, and resident Americans are urged to exercise caution in their activities. Airlines continue limited flights into and out of Monrovia, although this may change periodically.
The frequency of armed clashes between factions has dropped steeply since the end of the 2003 conflict. Sustained fighting has not occurred for some time. However, despite successful peace talks and deployment of ECOMIL forces earlier in 2003 and UNMIL forces in October, low-intensity fighting between various armed factions could flare up in the countryside unpredictably. Due to the fighting, principal roads to Sierra Leone and Guinea, and from Monrovia to western Liberia, are sometimes closed. Travel over many roads has become prohibitively dangerous. There is also a growing threat of violent crime in Monrovia and elsewhere.
The security situation in general, both government and rebel roadblocks, and the lack of reliable communications systems in Liberia limit the Embassy's ability to provide assistance to U.S. citizens outside the Monrovia area.
U.S. citizens in Liberia should be aware of their surroundings at all times and use caution in traveling. Travel anywhere after dark is strongly discouraged. Owing to the potential for violence, U.S. citizens should avoid crowds, political rallies, street demonstrations, and any gathering of security forces. Americans should report any threats or suspicious activity to the Embassy in Monrovia and monitor the local media for developments that may affect their safety and security.