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Liberia 2017 Crime & Safety Report

Africa > Liberia; Africa > Liberia > Monrovia

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Embassy Monrovia does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MONROVIA AS BEING A HIGH-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Liberia-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

U.S. travelers are potentially exposed to crime and safety issues involving robbery, burglary, and mob violence following traffic accidents. Petty crime is common. Electronics, wallets, and cellphones are most commonly targeted by thieves. Most criminals are unarmed, though some use machetes and cutlass-type weapons.

Carjacking is not prevalent, but snatch-and-grab robberies do occur.

Other Areas of Concern

Travelers are cautioned when visiting the areas of greater Monrovia known as Red Light, Waterside, Congo Town, ELWA Junction, and all market areas. Petty crimes do take place, and these areas are extremely crowded and should be avoided after dark.

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

The main roads in/around Monrovia are in acceptable condition. In rural areas (upcountry), approximately 6.9% of the country’s roads are paved. A six-month rainy season contributes to the rapid deterioration of unpaved roads. Many regions are inaccessible even with well-equipped 4x4 vehicles. Travelers are advised to drive with care during the night time hours. Official Americans are not allowed to drive outside of Monrovia at night due to poor lighting and infrastructure. Drivers must also pay particular attention to pedestrians, motorcyclists, and taxi operators who often demonstrate blatant disregard for rules of the road and the safety of other motorists. A few years ago, the government enforced new restrictions that limit the access of motorcyclists to central Monrovia.

Transportation accidents frequently occur for several reasons: poor maintenance of vehicles, hazardous road conditions, aggressive drivers, and widespread disregard for traffic laws. The most prevalent danger posed to Americans is vehicle accidents, especially at night. There have been repeated occurrences of mob violence taking place following traffic accidents with motorcycle (pehn-pehn, KeKe) operators. Regardless of fault, motorists must exercise extreme caution in the aftermath of an accident and immediately seek the intervention of the Liberia National Police (LNP) if the situation cannot be defused.

Public Transportation Conditions

Official Americans are prohibited from utilizing commercial taxis, buses, and motorbike taxis, due to potential crimes associated with public transportation, poor maintenance, reliability, and other security concerns. Car services are allowed as long as with a reputable company.

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Roberts International Airport is approximately 35 miles east of Monrovia on a paved road. Travel time varies based on traffic but is often 1 ½ to 2 hours. This road is not illuminated at night, resulting in an increased risk of traffic accidents. Arrival at the airport can be confusing and overwhelming. The terminal is crowded and poorly designed, resulting in long lines to clear immigration and frequent pushing/shoving in the baggage area, as passengers try to retrieve luggage. Taxi service from the airport is unreliable, and visitors are advised to pre-arrange transportation to Monrovia.

Spriggs Payne Airport is located approximately 3 miles east of downtown Monrovia on a paved road. Small aircraft and UN Mission in Liberia helicopters utilize this airport.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MONROVIA AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

There exists a real, growing threat of regional terrorism due to the operational presence of known terrorist groups. Liberia has been spared terrorist attacks but remains vulnerable due to its porous borders, increased regional instability, and the increased activities of al-Qa’ida in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED MONROVIA AS BEING A MEDIUM-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest

Given current depressed economic conditions, high unemployment, systemic corruption, limited health-care, and political tension, there is significant potential for civil unrest that could trigger rapidly escalating public protests and demonstrations. During 2016, there were numerous protests including some instances of violence and civil disorder. The most recent protests were related to the public’s dissatisfaction with wages, access to healthcare, and poor living and working conditions. Security services demonstrated their capability to control and resolve instances of civil disorder. The Embassy recommends that Americans avoid large gatherings and demonstrations.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

A six-month rainy season (May-November) makes Monrovia the wettest capital in the world. The rains can cause severe flooding and wash out most roads in the country. Deep mud and puddles require 4x4 vehicles to travel outside Monrovia.

Critical Infrastructure Concerns

Liberia desperately needs investors and technical experts to return and support the country’s development.

Liberia depends on cellular phone networks for voice communications. Landline telephone service is virtually non-existent.

Liberia has a limited utility infrastructure. The vast majority of homes and businesses lack electricity, while those that do largely depend on home generators. In addition, most institutions depend on trucks to deliver for water. In December 2016, the Liberia Electricity Corporation with the assistance of the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation re-opened the Mt. Coffee electrical dam that generates limited electricity to Monrovia.

Personal Identity Concerns

Homosexuality is illegal in Liberia. Members of the LGBT community may be subject to discrimination and verbal/physical attacks. However, there is more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture in Liberia than in other African countries.

Drug-related Crimes

Illegal drugs are present and are trafficked into Liberia from neighboring West African countries.

Police Response

The primary law enforcement agency is the LNP. Due to a lack of resources, the LNP is very limited in its ability to respond to criminal acts or provide full services to crime victims. Travelers should anticipate that stolen property will not be recovered, nor will perpetrators be brought to justice. The police can be contacted via the LNP Chief of Patrol at +231 (0)880-800-117.

RSO advises that Embassy personnel and visitors treat police officers with respect. Ignoring reasonable lawful orders or becoming belligerent will only exacerbate the situation and could result in your arrest.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

Incidents of police harassment, detention, or misconduct should be reported to the U.S. Embassy at: +231 (0)77 677 7000 or Marine Post One: +231 (0)77 677 7001.

Crime Victim Assistance

If you are a victim of a crime and need to contact the U.S. Embassy, you can contact the Consular Section for American Citizen Services.

Medical Emergencies

Prior to the Ebola crisis, medical facilities were poorly equipped and staffed and generally incapable of providing even basic services. The Ebola outbreak exacerbated the dismal level of medical services. Since then, medicines are scarce, and some are counterfeit and distributed beyond their expiration date. Doctors, clinics, and hospitals expect immediate cash payment for health services and, in many cases, before rendering service.

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Duside Hospital - FIRESTONE

Contact Person: Benjamin Wollor, MD

Address: Firestone Hospital – Margibi County, Liberia (near Airport RIA – ROB)

Phone: +231 (0)776 479-072

 

St. Joseph’s Catholic Hospital

Contact Person: Peter Lansana Dawoh

Address: Tubman Blvd., opposite 2nd Old Road Junction, Congo Town

Phone: +231 (0)888 248-772

 

Elwa Hospital

Contact Person: Freeman Garway

Address: Paynesville, Elwa Junction

Phone: +231 (0)777 526-864

 

Aspen Medical Clinic Liberia

Contact Person: Country Manager, 231 (0)770 029-511

Address: Intersection of 16th Street and Russell Ave, Sinkor, Monrovia

Appointments/General Information: 231 (0)770 029 511

Clinic Emergency Number: 231 (0)770 911 911

 

Kingdom Care Medical Clinic

Contact Person: Dr. Martha Zarway

Address: Paynesville, off of Duport Road

Phone: +231 (0)555 647-588 or +231 (0)888 517-863

 

Dentist Hassan Ezzedine, DDS

Randall Street, by DITCO

Tel: +231 (0)886 510 565

 

Air Ambulance Services

 

International SOS Air Ambulance Service (ISOS)

Contact Person: Dirk Loreth, ISOS Aviation Manager Europe, Middle East and Africa

Address: From Frankfurt, Johannesburg, Accra or Dakar

Office Phone: +49-6102-3588-453/+49-172-7666923/+33-1-5563-3155

Emergency Phone: +49-6102-358-8100 (EUR) or +011-215-245-4707 (USA)

Alarm Center: Frankfurt-(49) 6102-358-8100/Paris-(33) 155-633-155/Europe-(44) 20-8762-8008

 

Aspen Medical Liberia

Contact Person: Country Manager, 231 (0)770 029-511

Address: Intersection of 16th Street and Russell Ave, Sinkor, Monrovia

Appointments/General Information: 231 (0)770 029 511

Clinic Emergency Number: 231 (0)770 911 911

Services Available: Medical Emergency Assistance/Stabilization

Probable Response Time: From 4 to 24 hours depending on the city of departure

Insurance Guidance

In the event of a serious emergency, medical evacuation is recommended, and medical evacuation insurance is also strongly recommended for those not covered by their employer.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

Malaria is endemic, and travelers should consult their physician for anti-malaria medication prior to traveling.

All travelers must have up-to-date immunizations and a yellow fever vaccination in their shot record.

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Liberia.

OSAC Country Council Information

There is currently no active Country Council in Liberia. Please contact OSAC’s Africa team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Monrovia or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.

U.S. Embassy Location and Contact Information

Embassy Address and Hours of Operation

U.S. Embassy Monrovia, Liberia
502 Benson Street
Monrovia, Liberia

Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs, 0800-1730; Fri - 0800-1300
Consular Hours of Operation: Mon, Tues, Thurs – 1400-1600

Embassy Contact Numbers

U.S. Embassy Switchboard: +231 77 677 7000

MSG Post One: +231 77 677 7001

Regional Security Office: +231 77 677 7000 Ext. 7112

Consular Affairs / American Citizen Services: +231 77 677 7111 ConsularMonrovia@state.gov

Duty Officer: +231 77 723 1673

Website: http://monrovia.usembassy.gov

Embassy Guidance

U.S. citizens traveling in Liberia are encouraged to register in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). STEP is a free service that helps the U.S. Embassy disseminate information about safety conditions and contact travelers in an emergency.

Additional Resources

Liberia Country Information Sheet