Liberia’s Civil War : Ten Years Later vol.2

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Ten years ago last month, Liberia’s civil war ended after 14 years of on-and-off battles as notorious president Charles Taylor left the country.

Since covering the fierce fighting in the capital city Monrovia in 2003, I have been documenting Liberia’s post-war rebuilding process and a few months ago, I visited the country on my 6th trip.

At this time I noticed many positive changes like new hotels, restaurants, paved roads, more streetlights and such. At the Waterside market – once the front line of bloody battles where billboards and shops were scarred like beehives by thousands of bullets, now you can find absolutely nothing to remind you of the war.

Although the country seems to be moving forward under the command of Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took office in 2006, the pace of development is not as fast as ordinary people expected. Once you step off the main road, you can see people living pretty much the same as right after the war ended. People still suffer from no electricity and no proper water supply, while the price of rice, the main staple for Liberians, has almost tripled. The biggest problem is the lack of jobs.

“I am lucky to have a job but my brothers and sisters couldn’t find any work. I have eight family members to support and my salary is not enough”

A woman who works at an international NGO complained to me.

It seemed to me that development has only benefited the upper class by giving them more opportunities to make money but the lower class has been left behind. There are hundreds of former child soldiers, who are now mid-teens with no education or vocational skills, and struggle greatly. Many of them are surviving on occasional daily labor or selling small products like sandals or matches.

I understand that it wouldn’t be an easy task to lift the whole country up but to be honest, I was expecting to see more done, considering it’s been already a ten years.

My fear is that another war would take place by frustrated, jobless young people if the situation doesn’t improve for them. As they keep seeing the gaps between rich and poor grow greater and greater, their hope for a better life diminishes and they may become overly bitter against the ruling class and the government.

I hope my concerns are unfounded and I’m overly worried. I don’t know when my next visit to Liberia will be but I surely hope to see more happy faces around.

(related post : Liberia’s Civil War : Ten Years Later vol.1 )












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