The UK’s terrorism alert on Liberia

The Government of the United Kingdom issued a travel advisory recently to British citizens here and those traveling to the country, alerting that terrorist attacks in Liberia can’t be ruled out or is likely to happen.

The alert dated May 11, 2018 notes that as seen in Mali, Côte D’ Ivoire and Burkina Faso, terrorist groups continue to mount attacks on beach resorts, hotels, cafés and restaurants visited by foreigners, admonishing British citizens to be vigilant in these locations and avoid any crowded places and public gatherings or events, including the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Stadium.

It specifically notes that there are sometimes clashes between armed groups from both sides of the Liberian/Cote d’Ivoire border in remote border areas of Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties, and that British traveling outside the capital Monrovia, should avoid straying into these areas.

Although the Liberian authorities have not commented publicly on the alert, but the police have of late, intensified security checks, particularly during night hours across Monrovia and its environs, stopping vehicles at checkpoints and asking passengers to disembark and cross, while thorough check is conducted, characteristic of the civil war era.

We believe the terrorist alert is timely, not only for British citizens, but Liberian themselves who ought to take charge of their national security. Terrorist attacks are rapidly spreading in the region, as occurred in neighboring Côte D’ Ivoire and two other countries, taking hundreds of lives.

Liberian troops on peacekeeping mission in Mali with the United Nations had suffered terrorist attacks, suffering death and injuries. Burkina Faso has been hit twice, losing her citizens, including soldiers and foreign nationals.

The alert from the British also points to a high level of crime in Monrovia, including armed robbery. It notes that the Liberian National Police has very limited capability to prevent or detect crime, or to provide emergency response in any part of the country, adding that levels of crime are much higher after dark. “Don’t walk anywhere in the city at night.”

This should claim immediate attention of our national security apparatus, specifically, the Ministry of Justice and authorities of the Liberia National Police, and the Liberia Immigration Service. Security should not be about riding flashy cars and blaring sirens in the capital.

Immigration border guards should keep vigilance on whose passing thru our porous borders to enter the country and for what reason. Almost every day there are reports of aliens illegally entering here and engaging in mining activities without requisite documents.

Unless we take these public alerts from our foreign partners in good faith, and act on them quickly to allay fears among the population, the country risks sitting on a time bomb that could explode anytime with unimagined consequences.

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