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Is Liberia safe?

Liberia has made significant progress in recent years in terms of security and stability, but it still faces structural challenges. The country has a complex history of conflict and violence, including a civil war that lasted from 1989 to 2003, and the nation has struggled to rebuild its security infrastructure ever since.

The roots of the conflict in Liberia can be traced back to its history as a colony founded by freed American slaves in the 19th century. The ruling elite, made up of descendants of these settlers, maintained a monopoly on political and economic power, leading to widespread inequality and exclusion. This ultimately led to social unrest and political instability, which culminated in a coup in 1980 that brought Samuel Doe to power.

Doe’s regime was characterized by authoritarianism and corruption. In 1988, Charles Taylor, a former government official, launched a rebellion against Doe, sparking a brutal civil war that lasted for over a decade. The war was characterized by an epidemic of violence and atrocities, including the use of child soldiers and the exploitation of natural resources to finance the conflict.

Despite efforts to disarm combatants and control the spread of illegal weapons after the war ended, there are still pockets of armed groups operating in the country, particularly in remote areas. These groups can pose a serious threat to security and stability, and can also contribute to other criminal activities such as smuggling and trafficking.

Liberia’s porous borders and weak security infrastructure certainly do not help either, making the country vulnerable to the activities of terrorist groups and criminal organizations.

The Liberian National Police (LNP) has made significant progress in terms of improving its capacity and professionalism, but it still faces challenges in terms of resources and training. Despite its best efforts, Liberia is still plagued with high level of crime, including robbery, theft and kidnapping. Moreover, the LNP has also been criticized for its handling of protests and other civil unrest, with reports of excessive use of force and human rights abuses having been filed to international organizations.

In addition, the government has taken steps to address the root causes of conflict and instability in Liberia. This includes efforts to promote national reconciliation and to address issues such as inequality and exclusion. The government has also worked to improve access to education and employment, particularly for young people who are often vulnerable to recruitment by armed groups.

The security situation in Liberia remains fragile, but there are reasons for optimism. The government’s investments in the security sector have helped to improve the overall security situation in the country. However, more needs to be done to ensure that all Liberians can live in safety and security. This includes continued investments in the security sector, as well as efforts to promote national reconciliation above all else.

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Last modified: February 17, 2023