British Foreign Office Issues Travel Advisory on Liberia

Asks British Nationals in Monrovia to Play It Safe

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

September 19, 2002

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London has issued a travel advisory admonishing British nationals against travels to Liberia because of "regular clashes between rebels and Government forces". It also warned British nationals in Liberia to "make every effort to remain informed of developments and remain at home during periods of unrest" as well as ensure that the British Honorary Consul in Monrovia knows their whereabouts at all times.

"We strongly advise against all travel to Liberia because of fighting between rebels and government forces. Fighting has been reported within 15km of the capital, Monrovia and the situation remains volatile, with outbreaks of fighting and violence perpetrated against the civilian population. Looting and lawlessness is commonplace. A State of Emergency declared in February 2002 was extended until November 2002. British nationals may not be the direct target of civil unrest, but could quickly find themselves caught up in the consequences", the FCO said in the travel advisory updated on September 13. (The Liberian government lifted the state of emergency September 14).

"UK nationals should be aware that President Taylor has accused the UK of committing atrocities in Lofa County. The UK is not providing support to the Liberian dissidents. But these accusations have been widely reported in the Liberian press and are believed by many people in the Government and security forces", the FCO charges in the advisory, warning that "Given the UN sanctions against Liberia and the high profile British presence in Sierra Leone, there is a risk that UK nationals or organisations could become targets for RUF (Revolutionary United Front) sympathisers in Liberia."

"Those who do travel to Monrovia should exercise caution at all times. Visitors should not travel outside Monrovia at night. Public transport, when it exists, is neither reliable nor necessarily safe. The heavy rainy season, which lasts for several months between May and October makes travel to outlying areas both difficult and hazardous", the FCO said, and warned British nationals visiting Monrovia not to "photograph military or other government installations... [and] should carry ID at all times."

"The British Embassy in Monrovia closed in March 1991- all staff are resident at the British Embassy in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire. Emergency consular assistance may be obtained from the Honorary Consul (in Clara Town, on the outskirts of Monrovia). The Honorary Consul is the point of contact for British citizens in Liberia. Any commercial, political, or visa enquiries should be made directly to the British Embassy in Abidjan", the FCO said in the travel advisory.

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