Ahead of the major protest planned for June 7, the United Kingdom has renewed a warning to its citizens in Liberia of possible indiscriminate terrorist attacks and the transmission and symptoms of the deadly Ebola Virus. The Travel and Living Abroad warning by the United Kingdom urges its citizens to, among other things, specifically avoid protests, demonstrations, large gatherings and crowds in Monrovia and environs.
The UK’s travel alert to its citizens, updated March 22 and is “still current as of May 5, 2019”, does not specifically mention the pending June 7 protest. However, the first paragraph reads: “Protests and demonstrations do take place in Monrovia on occasion. You should avoid protests, demonstrations, large gatherings and crowds and follow the advice of local authorities.”
Travel alerts are routine releases of information by countries seeking the wellbeing of their citizens traveling, working or living abroad. They are updated regularly and help expatriates in their host countries find their bearings especially in terms of security and medical emergencies. However, the UK maintains that large public gatherings with political undertones, such as the expected protest on June 7 and other demonstrations of activism, may become possible cover for terrorists to carry out their evil agendas. The UK government is reiterating its warnings that law enforcement authorities, mainly the Liberian National Police “has very limited capability to prevent or detect crime, or to provide emergency response in any part of the country.”
Thus the UK security alert asserts that “Terrorists are likely to try to carry out attacks in Liberia,” citing the proximity of incidents in the fairly recent past in other West African countries including Burkina Faso, Mali and neighboring Côte d’Ivoire. “Terrorist groups continue to mount attacks on beach resorts, hotels, cafés and restaurants visited by foreigners. You should be vigilant in these locations and avoid any crowded places and public gatherings or events.”
The UK goes on to warn about “a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria.” However, concerning the political situation in Liberia, the UK also notes that because former Liberian President Charles Taylor is serving a long prison sentence in the UK following his conviction by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, British nationals may be subject to reprisal attack.
“Attacks could be indiscriminate. You should be vigilant, especially in places visited by foreigners,” the UK warns.
The UK also warns that the threat of exposure to the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) still exists most medical facilities throughout Liberia are unable to provide the same standard of healthcare as in the UK. It also warns that medical facilities in rural areas are rudimentary and most facilities require payment up-front for treatment.
It added: “Avoid traveling at night outside Monrovia, except to or from Roberts International Airport. Make sure you have pre-arranged transport from the airport. The small British Embassy in Monrovia can only offer limited consular assistance. If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.”