Travel Alert Status
Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution
Violent crimes, such as robbery and assault, occur frequently in Sierra Leone, especially in Freetown. Local police often lack the resources to deal effectively with serious criminal incidents.
If traveling outside the Freetown peninsula, make all efforts to complete your travel during daylight hours due to increased safety hazards at night. The U.S. Embassy is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Freetown at night as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling outside the capital after dark.
Safety and Security
Security in Sierra Leone has improved significantly since the end of the civil war in 2002. The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL) withdrew in December 2005 and Sierra Leone resumed responsibilities for its own security. The Sierra Leonean police are working to improve its professionalism and capabilities, but these fall short of U.S. standards in response time, communications, and specialty skills.
Areas outside Freetown lack most basic services. U.S. Embassy officials are free to travel throughout Sierra Leone. Travelers are urged to exercise caution especially when venturing beyond the capital. Road conditions are hazardous and serious vehicle accidents are common. Travel outside the capital after dark is not allowed for U.S. Embassy officials and should be avoided by all travelers. Emergency response to vehicular and other accidents ranges from slow to nonexistent.
There are occasional unauthorized, possibly armed, roadblocks outside Freetown, where travelers might be asked to pay a small amount of money to the personnel manning the roadblock. Because many Sierra Leoneans outside of Freetown speak broken English or Krio, it can be difficult for foreigners to communicate their identity. Public demonstrations are rare, but can turn violent. U.S. citizens are advised to avoid large crowds, political rallies, and street demonstrations. You should maintain security awareness at all times. In addition, you should carry a means of communication at all times (fully charged cell phone with emergency contacts).