Elders and Chiefs UNHCR Exceeds 16,000 UNICEF Transforms Promote Cross-Border Repatriation Target for Rural Communities in Cooperation 2013 Southeastern Liberia CONTENTS
Elders and Chiefs Promote 10 Forensic Laboratory Launched Cross-Border Cooperation ‘‘If you disarm, disarm your heart. 12 Palava Hut Takes Centre You can put down the gun but if your Stage as Liberians Seek heart is not satisfied you will still Reconciliation be thinking of war. All of us should now be thinking about receiving one 14 Joint Border Patrols another, embracing one another so Boost Regional Security 4 there can be peace.’’
16 Building Liberian Returnees’ UNHCR Exceeds 16,000 Capacity Repatriation Target for 2013 Paying his maiden visit to Liberia’s 19 Early Warning System largest Ivorian refugee camp with a Launched current population of about 12,000 as the UN refugee agency assists thou- 20 Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange sands of Ivorian refugees to return Promotes Grassroots Sharing home, the UN Deputy Special Repre- sentative of the Secretary-General in 22 UNHCR Puts LRRRC and MoJ late October interacted with dozens on the Move 6 of refugees from Côte d’Ivoire. 24 “Come Home”
UNICEF Transforms Rural 26 For One Female Farmer Communities in Southeastern Liberia Dreams Come True The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has continued to work with 28 U.S. Congressmen See UN the Government of Liberia in estab- Impact in Liberia First-Hand lishing projects, rendering financial and human resource in the various 30 How will Palava Hut Help 8 counties. Reconciliation?
UN Focus chief of public information editor and head of publications & Connect With Us Isabelle Abric SOCIAL MEDIA [email protected] Mathew Elavanalthoduka www.unmil.unmissions.org staff writers www.facebook.com/unmil2003 Stefanie Carmichael design & graphics www.twitter.com/unmilnews Daylue Goah Paddy Defoxy Ilos, II www.youtube.com/unmiltv James S. King Thomas S. Blidi www.flickr.com/unmil
Photos UN FOCUS is published quarterly by the Staton Winter Public Information Office, United Nations Emmanuel Tobey Mission in Liberia Printed by Buck Press Ltd., Accra, Ghana
2 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 Message from the Special Representative of the Secretary-General
s 2013 comes to a close, we can col- relationship between the two countries and its lectively reflect on the past year with peoples. UNMIL, together with our sister mis- a sense of fulfillment, and hope for sion in Côte d’Ivoire, will continue to support such the future. Just as we have joined measures to foster security and stability along with Liberia to celebrate ten years the border. Aof peace, the United Nations looks towards 2014, Sexual and gender-based violence remains recommitted to consolidating the gains made in unacceptably high in Liberia, especially against the past decade, and to the hard work that still children. In November, the 16 Days of Activ- lies ahead. ism Against Gender Violence campaign was an In September, the Security Council renewed important opportunity to enhance awareness of UNMIL’s mandate for another year. Liberia’s sexual and gender-based violence in Liberia, and progress towards building a strong, professional particularly the role that men and boys can play and able security and rule of law sector will allow in eliminating it. UNMIL will continue to actively UNMIL to continue its gradual security transition support the Government in all its efforts to end in 2014. The March 2013 LNP Management and sexual and gender-based violence, and to improv- Accountability Study and Criminal Justice Confer- ing access to justice, protection and redress for ence, which informed an SSR retreat in Septem- those affected. ber, as well as a joint Government-UNMIL Base- In recent months, I have been struck by how in line Assessment of the LNP undertaken during step the UN, the Government, and our internation- the course of last year, pave the way for future al partners are on how we can work together to reforms. However, long-term stability will also help Liberia shape its future. The Security Council require the Government of Liberia to build the has recognized the need for Liberia to acceler- confidence of all Liberians in its ability to solidify ate critical reform processes, including national peace and security in Liberia and to effectively reconciliation, constitutional reform and decen- protect civilians. tralization. As Liberia presses forward with these The Security Council acknowledged the impor- reforms, it will be imperative that the Government tant work Liberia has done to enhance regional and people also address in earnest difficult ques- security, including together with its neighbors, tions of governance and natural resource man- and its political will to address complex and sen- agement. Looking forward to 2014 and beyond, sitive issues. October saw the first Joint Council the UN will continue to engage with Liberia as it of Chiefs and Elders Meeting, which brought prioritizes and advances these processes. stakeholders from the border regions of Liberia In the meantime, I would like to wish all Libe- and Côte d’Ivoire together to discuss issues of rians, UNMIL’s peacekeepers and their families, common concern. This was a major milestone, and all readers of UN FOCUS a peaceful, prosper- which reinvigorated and deepened the bilateral ous and happy New Year.
Karin Landgren Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Liberia
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 3 Elders and Chiefs Promote Cross-Border Cooperation By Stefanie Carmichael
is necessary if we are to bring about The JCCEM brought together 50 chiefs and elders total peace in the region, especially from each of Liberia and neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire.” The JCCEM brought together 50 in the first of what is intended to be regular cross- chiefs and elders from each of Liberia and neighbouring Côte d’Ivoire in the border dialogue between local and traditional first of what is intended to be regular cross-border dialogue between local authorities. and traditional authorities. Born from a quadripartite meeting in March 2013 f you disarm, disarm your Alfred Doeba is the Land Commis- between the two Governments and heart. You can put down sioner for Grand Gedeh County. From the United Nations peacekeeping the gun but if your heart 16-19 October 2013, he was also a del- missions in each country, the JCCEM is not satisfied you will egate at the Joint Council of Chiefs and was meant to facilitate a common and still be thinking of war. All Elders Meeting (JCCEM) in Zwedru. coherent approach towards coopera- “Iof us should now be thinking about “As Grand Gedeans, we have the tion, reconciliation, and development. receiving one another, embracing one longest border with Côte d’Ivoire so For three days, the small town of another so there can be peace.” we are totally involved. This meeting Zwedru was overrun by some 300 JCCEM participants, a chaos made all the more noticeable by the arrival of Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara on the final day. “It is not an option for Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia to work together. Dear friends, it is a necessity,” Sirleaf told the delegates. “We will explore all avenues to make sure there will never be conflict again between our two countries, among our Mano River Union countries, and throughout all of West Africa.” The Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) in Côte d’Ivoire and Deputy SRSG in Liberia
A Liberian tribal elder offers cola nut to a group of Ivorian tribal elders at the opening of the JCCEM on 17 October 2013
4 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 both attended the JCCEM, where al- hosting this first exchange. A Liberian woman waves an Ivorian flag while though they highlighted the coopera- “The hand that was stretched out performing a cultural dance at the JCCEM on 17 October 2013 tion between the UN missions, they here in Liberia by Madam President also emphasized the importance of Ellen Johnson is a hand of peace… traditional leaders. peace through tradition,” he said. “The “You all have critical roles to play people who will take the biggest profit and cultural cross-border interven- in bringing peace to your countries from this meeting are the elders, the tions. The next JCCEM will take place and communities and in so doing traditional chiefs.” in Côte d’Ivoire after six months. you draw on the vibrant cultural and Despite the fanfare around the historical ties that define you,” said meeting, local residents carried on Deputy SRSG Aeneas C. Chuma. “It is with their daily business. Moses “It is your your commitment to transform your Gurley, a farmer, went to Zwedru City commitment to common border into a zone of peace, Hall to see what all the commotion reconciliation and development that was about. transform your has brought us here.” “I don’t want anything from this With the help of translators, the meeting except I want to do my farm common border chiefs and elders were able to work work,” he said. “I want to do my farm into a zone jointly over the course of the meeting, work in peace. If this meeting will coming together in working groups to help me with that, then I am happy of peace, discuss common approaches to com- for it.” mon challenges, such as the return A final Communiqué agreed, reconciliation of refugees, reconciliation processes, among other things, on the establish- and develop- youth employment, and community ment of a technical working group for development. the implementation of recommenda- ment that has Victor Coulayes is the Paramount tions and called on both countries, Chief of Guiglo in Côte d’Ivoire who while involving the JCCE, to imple- brought us was full of praise for Liberians for ment appropriate economic, social here.”
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 5 UNHCR Exceeds 16,000 Repatriation Target for 2013 By Sulaiman Momodu
“The security UNHCR commenced the facilitated voluntary situation along repatriation of Ivorian refugees in October 2011 the border following the signing of the Tripartite Agreement has greatly on the Voluntary Repatriation of Ivorian Refugees improved. This is with the Governments of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. a welcome development.” aying his maiden visit to from Côte d’Ivoire while urging them to Liberia’s largest Ivorian remain peaceful and law abiding. refugee camp with a current “You must respect and abide by population of about 12,000 the laws of Liberia at all times,” said as the UN refugee agency Aeneas C. Chuma, who led a high-pow- Passists thousands of Ivorian refugees ered delegation to the PTP Refugee 16,000 Ivorian refugees have been to return home, the UN Deputy Special Camp (located at the former Prime repatriated by UNHCR this year Representative of the Secretary-Gener- Timber Production company site) in exceeding the target the UN al, Humanitarian Coordinator and UN Grand Gedeh County, a camp that has agency had set for 2013 Resident Coordinator in late October been expanded to receive additional interacted with dozens of refugees refugees as the Solo Refugee Camp in the same County is being closed as part of camp consolidation efforts. The DSRSG toured various facili- ties, including the water facility and the health centre where he interacted with medics and admitted patients. He held discussions with the Liberian National Police regarding camp security, and visited the camp extension area called PTP-2. He also held a meeting with refugee leaders and with humanitarian actors providing various services to refugees. Chuma was accompanied by the United Nations High Commissioner
UNHCR Representative Khassim Diagne addresses Ivorian refugees during DSRSG Chuma’s visit Photo: Sulaiman Momodu/UNHCR
6 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 for Refugees (UNHCR) Representative Khassim Diagne, the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Com- mission (LRRRC) Executive Director, Cllr. Abla Williams, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director, Dr. Kamil Kamalud- deen, and Acting Police Commissioner Cesar Binag of the United Nations Mis- sion in Liberia (UNMIL). During his visit, Chuma and mem- bers of the delegation made a symbolic presentation of a consignment of 744 bales of assorted clothes to alleviate the clothing needs of the refugees, most of whom are in dire need of Liberia and partners we have achieved DSRSG Chuma presents UNIQLO-donated clothes to something to wear. Unique Clothing our goal of assisting 16,000 refugees an elderly refugee at PTP Refugee Camp Photo: Sulaiman Momodu/UNHCR (UNIQLO), a Japanese company, made to go home in 2013. We have some the donation through UNHCR. Chuma more convoys scheduled to leave in expressed gratitude to UNIQLO for the the next few weeks which means that by boats across the Cestos River to gift while handing over some clothes this number will further increase by end complement road convoys. to an elderly woman. Other members of December,” said Diagne, reiterating Several of these refugees have of the delegation also made symbolic that assisting Ivorian refugees to return applauded the innovative method of presentations to various groups of home in safety and dignity is now the assisting them to return home. “The refugees such as the physically chal- focus of the UN refugee agency opera- journey home by road is long and lenged, children who were separated tion in Liberia. requires that we spend a night at a from their parents while fleeing to UNHCR commenced the facili- transit centre,” said Pierre, an Ivorian Liberia, and nursing mothers. tated voluntary repatriation of Ivorian farmer returning home with his wife With nearly 55,000 Ivorian refugees refugees in October 2011 following the and three children after two years of currently living in Liberia, the DSRSG signing of the Tripartite Agreement on refuge in Liberia. “By using the river we encouraged the remaining refugees the Voluntary Repatriation of Ivorian can be home in less than a day.” to take advantage of the ongoing Refugees with the Governments of Meanwhile, in November, UNHCR UNHCR-facilitated voluntary repatria- Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire. Security con- held a strategic direction retreat in tion and follow the example of those cerns along Liberia’s border with Côte Monrovia with staff from Monrovia and who have returned home. d’Ivoire had, however, been a challenge Field Offices to discuss the focus of This year, UNHCR has repatriated to the repatriation process in addition the operation for 2014 and 2015. Pro- more than 16,000 Ivorian refugees, to deteriorating road conditions during tection, durable solution, assistance, attaining the 16,000 repatriation target seasonal rains. In 2012, the killing of management, partnership and external the agency had set for 2013. seven UN Peacekeepers on the Ivorian relations, and logistics issues were dis- The target attained for 2013 is dou- side of the border interrupted the mo- cussed and recommendations made. ble the combined total of 8,000 Ivorian mentum, while refugees had security refugees repatriated in 2011 and 2012. concerns in March 2013 following The goal was achieved in November as attacks by unknown armed men on more than 1,500 refugees were repatri- some Ivorian villages. 55,000 ated from camps and communities in “The security situation along the Ivorian refugees are one week, including more than 1,000 border has greatly improved. This is currently living in Liberia individuals who crossed over the Ces- a welcome development,” remarked tos River by boat from Buutuo commu- Diagne, pointing out that to achieve nities in Nimba County into Douhouba the 2013 repatriation target, UNHCR, in 12,000 in Bin Houye, western Côte d’Ivoire. consultation with refugees, employed People currently live in Liberia’s “Together with the Government of innovative means of facilitating returns largest Ivorian refugee camp
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 7 UNICEF Transforms Rural Communities in Southeastern Liberia By Bwewusa William
management. The GCHV are to work in Commenting on his visit, Dr. Fazlul Haque observed distant areas where there are no health great enthusiasm in communities benefiting clinics around five kilometers away from the health facilities. from the assistance, including a strong resolve to UNICEF is collecting baseline data to assess the health situation of wom- protect all public installations. en and children in Liberia. The findings will guide UNICEF, the Government and County Health Team (CHT) to come up he United Nations Children’s in Harper, Dr. Fazlul Haque enumerated with various interventions. Fund (UNICEF) has contin- various interventions and the achieve- In the sphere of nutrition, UNICEF ued to work with the Govern- ments in meeting community needs, assists the CHT by providing sup- ment of Liberia in estab- including the social cash transfer port in the management of malnutri- lishing projects, rendering programme among others. tion. Under an Out Patient treatment Tfinancial and human resources in the UNICEF is supporting the Maryland programme still in its initial stages, various counties. County Health Department. The agen- malnourished children are provided Recently, Acting UNICEF Resident cy has trained 130 General Community supplementary food treatment and Representative, Dr. Fazlul Haque, ac- Health Volunteers (GCHV) in Integrated guidance in Maryland. companied by a Monitoring and Evalu- Community Health Case Management In addition, an NGO, Samaritan’s ation Officer visited Harper to appraise who are supposed to help the com- Purse has been engaged in developing activities and projects supported by the munities in managing acute respiratory the capacity of staff providing nutrition agency in Maryland County. infection and diarrhea diseases. They services in the County. In a briefing attended by UN Focus will also be trained in malaria case In the area of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), UNICEF is working in 22 communities. The agency’s inter- ventions include the repair of water pumps and the training of WASH com- mittees responsible for the upkeep of water pumps and drilling of wells. The Ministry of Public Works is to drill bore holes in the area while UNI- CEF would train facilitators to enforce public hygiene in the communities. UNICEF is further helping with the
UNICEF meets with beneficiaries of its pilot Social Cash Transfer Programme in Maryland County Photo: William Bwewusa/UNICEF
8 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 provision of water and toilet facili- ties as well as hygiene education in health institutes, health centers and E-schools. It also intervenes in the con- struction of E-schools and provision of classroom supplies and start up kits for children. Under the Peacebuilding Educa- tion Advocacy Programme, UNICEF is working with school communities, teachers, and management com- mittees on how to resolve conflicts peacefully and how to reinforce peace education within the system in Liberia. Commenting on his visit, Dr. Fazlul Haque observed great enthusiasm in communities benefiting from the other month following double assess- Individuals are provided cash every other month assistance, including a strong resolve ment and administration of question- following assessment as part of UNICEF’s Social Cash Transfer Programme to protect all public installations. He, naires on the level of inability to work, Photo: William Bwewusa/UNICEF however, noted that there was a need poverty and number of dependents by to revisit some projects to solve out- enumerators from the Ministry of Gen- standing problems. der Development at the County level. ria said at the moment the programme “There are no health centers in the “When a programme sets up specific targets 5,000 households. According nearby communities and no function- criteria, for people in this programme, to him, “the Government realized that ing water points. So people are not sometimes some people who do not to be able to reduce poverty and vulner- getting the service the way we expect,” fit these criteria are disappointed ability, one has to be able to address he conceded. “I know the international that they are not in this programme household vulnerability. This is part of community, including UNICEF and the at the end and sometimes create the Government’s social contract with Government of Liberia, is doing a lot of some tension in the community,” said its people to ensure that as we work things, but I think that we need to do Ngwerume. “But what we have noted towards inclusive economic growth we more.” is that with the help of the County, are not leaving anybody behind. Meanwhile, a joint team from Libe- Commissioners and Town Chiefs this “This is all part of the National Agen- ria’s Social Protection Service, UNICEF has been manageable. They have been da for Transformation and is going to and the European Union recently met able to explain to the communities.” help us achieve the objectives of Vision with beneficiaries of the Pilot Social While re-emphasizing the rel- 2030 of being a middle income coun- Cash Transfer Programme in Karlu- evance of the Social Cash Transfer try,” the Liberian official explained. way and Pleebo Districts in Maryland Programme, the European Union County. The US$ 24 million programme representative Alonso Adofo-Cires is funded by the European Union with said the Pilot Programme funded by technical support from UNICEF and the European Union through UNICEF “This is all part implemented by the Ministry of Gender started in Bomi County in 2009, was of the Nation- Development. implemented for a couple of years, and UNICEF Child Protection Specialist by the end of 2011 it was expanded to al Agenda for in Liberia, Christopher Ngwerume, says Maryland County and will continue at it is a social protection instrument used least up to the end of 2014. Transformation to cater for people who are extremely “We are working together with the and is going to poor and labor constrained, i.e., they Government to see how it can be ex- cannot work either because they are panded to all the Counties,” he said. help us achieve too old or too young, are orphans or are Meanwhile, the National Social Pro- chronically ill. tection Coordinator in the Ministry of the objectives Individuals are provided cash every Planning and Economic Affairs of Libe- of Vision 2030.”
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 9 Forensic Laboratory Launched By James S. King
“We hope that cases against alleged perpe- trators will no longer be dropped due to lack of evidence.”
rosecution of rape cases Lab technicians demonstrate the use of equipment remains one of many judicial challenges in Liberia due children. Chuma said 22 of the rape to the absence of forensic cases were referred to court during the facilities. With the establish- last seven months, with three cases Pment of a forensic laboratory facility at tried due to difficulties in the collection the James N. Davis Jr. Memorial Hospi- of “credible enough evidence.” tal in Neezoe, Paynesville, prosecutors “Success of prosecution should be can now rely on forensic evidence to based on a wide range of evidence, prosecute alleged rape perpetrators. including recording statements and This is thanks to the collaborative ef- gathering evidence from the crime forts of the Government of Liberia and scene,” said Chuma. “We hope that 841 partners, including the United Nations cases against alleged perpetrators will rape incidents were recorded in Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and the no longer be dropped due to lack of Montserrado County between Government of Sweden. evidence.” January and July 2013 Speaking during the launch cer- Adjudications of cases involving emony, Deputy Special Representa- rape usually pose conviction difficul- tive of the Secretary-General, Aeneas ties blamed on lack of evidence and 759 C. Chuma, said between January and the reluctance of victims and their of the 841 rape incidents recorded July 2013, 759 of 841 rape incidents re- family members to pursue prosecu- involved children corded in Montserrado County involved tion for fear of stigma. As a result, rape
10 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 cases are usually settled at the family and community levels, a situation the Government and its partners sought to address five years back with the establishment of a rape court, Criminal Court E, located within the premises of Liberian National Police (LNP). Several safe homes where survivals of rape and sexual violence can share their experiences in privacy are being set up across Liberia with support from UN- MIL, UNFPA, UNDP, and the Swedish Government. Rape became a crime with a maxi- mum penalty of life in prison following the enactment of a new rape law in De- cember 2005. Still, rape cases are on the increase eight years later. Despite increased nationwide awareness, rape remains one of Liberia’s biggest post- conflict challenges. guarantee the rights of its citizens,” DSRSG Chuma cuts ribbon at the opening of a new Chuma, however, thanked partners said Saaw, encouraging Liberia and its forensic laboratory for their relentless support to Liberia’s partners to continue their efforts to- development. He also challenged wards addressing sexual and gender- of Health and Social Welfare, and the medical staff at the laboratory facil- based violence in Liberia. Liberian National Police among others. ity to exercise maximum professional The end user of forensic laboratory responsibilities in conducting forensic results will be Criminal Court E whose laboratory investigations involving judge, Ceaineh Clinton-Johnson, called “The launch of rape. the establishment of the laboratory an Anna Saaw, Swedish Chargé “addition to professional responsibili- the facility d’Affaires said, “The launch of the ties in passing transparent judgment” represents an facility represents an additional step in sexual abuse cases. towards improving access to justice Johnson admitted the challenges additional step for all.” Saaw recognized that despite that come with establishing a forensic making a step forward, there remains lab when she cited “difficulties” on the towards “challenges associated with gathering part of lawyers to understand defen- improving compelling evidence” to ensure pros- dants’ rights as well as difficulties for ecution and conviction of perpetrators. magistrates to understand their roles access to justice Saaw cited lack of admissible during in-camera-court hearings. Other evidence, capacity performance, as challenges cited by Johnson included for all.” well as lack of legal awareness, among “gathering specialized evidence, un- others, as several factors contributing derstanding ordinary evidence and in- to prosecution difficulties in Liberia. ability of users (judges) to understand She said her own Government recog- intricacies of forensic evidence during 22 nizes improved access to justice for court hearings.” of the rape cases were referred to all requires a justice system that is ac- She called for increased training court during the last seven months countable and responsive to the needs opportunities on sexual violence for of women, men, girls and boys who live judicial personnel in order to address 3 in poverty. some of those challenges. cases of the 22 cases were tried “All individuals should be empow- Government agencies represented due to difficulties in the collection ered to control development of his or at the event included the Ministry of of “credible enough evidence.” her life, by which Liberia is obliged to Gender and Development, the Ministry
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 11 Palava Hut Takes Centre Stage as Liberians Seek Reconciliation By Napoleon Viban
President Sirleaf, flanked by For many, the Palava Hut is a forum par excellence for Ivorian President Ouattara, officially launches the national soothing what feelings of hate and revenge still smolder Palava Hut programme in Zwedru. from the country’s 14-year conflict.
en years on, hard feelings from the and revenge still smolder from the country’s civil war remain a potential threat 14-year conflict. Particularly in official circles, to Liberia’s social fabric. Among it is emerging as a key option in the Strategic USD 10,000 other remedies, the country’s lead- Roadmap on National Healing, Peacebuild- was made as a token ership is implementing a system of ing and Reconciliation – a brainchild of the donation in support of Tatonement that has for generations held the Independent National Commission on Human the initiative by Presi- seams of traditional society in place. Rights (INCHR). dent Alassane Ouat- For many, the Palava Hut is a forum par “It will give added impetus to all of our tara of Côte d’Ivoire excellence for soothing what feelings of hate people who are committed to peace and
12 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 reconciliation,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf declared when she officially launched the process in the southeast- ern town of Zwedru in mid-October, on the margins of a meeting of chiefs and elders from Ivorian and Liberian border communities. Adepts tout the Palava Hut as a tried and tested platform for brokering peace between victim and offender in the brushes of everyday life in the communities. But the trivia tradition- ally handled by the Palava Hut pail in the face of the kind of atrocities some victims endured during the war. Ani- mosities from the conflict still run deep, and the authorities do not expect the nation to heal overnight. “It will take a while. Reconciliation is gradual, and could even take a gen- eration,” cautions Boakai A. Dukuly, cerely seek pardon. Cultural dancers perform at the opening ceremony of Acting Chair of the INCHR, which has “There’s been an overwhelming the Palava Hut programme for reconciliation oversight of the Palava Hut process. quest among Liberians for perpetra- “Ten years is too small a time for a tors of wrongful acts during the war to develop the methodology for a national whole nation to heal.” come up and answer for their deeds,” Palava Hut system. Boakai also concedes to the limits Boakai affirms, and he believes the “We are very confident that this of the mechanism. Palava Hut process sets the stage for process will work,” Boakai says of the “The Palava Hut won’t necessarily this. At the launch in Zwedru, Boakai venture. “We have committees operat- resolve just every wrong committed extolled the system as “the best alter- ing on the ground and we have laid a during the war. Things like crimes native for redressing some outstanding solid foundation for it to work.” against humanity or war crimes are transitional grievances and for foster- The INCHR couldn’t be more upbeat. for an international body to handle. ing national healing, social cohesion President Alassane Ouattara of Côte The system is not suited for such,” he and reconciliation through dialogue.” d’Ivoire, who accompanied his Liberian hastens to point out. Still, the rights To get the process off the ground, counterpart to the launching ceremony, commissioner insists the forum could though, the INCHR would first have made a token donation of USD 10,000 enhance post-war reconciliation by to reconcile ethnic nuances and in support of the initiative. settling, for instance, land disputes variations in the Palava Hut culture as “Our two countries have been and minor abuses associated with the practiced in different regions of the through terrible times,” the Ivorian conflict. country. The Commission will have leader reminisced. The recourse to this traditional to harmonize these and give them a system of justice and reparation was a national appeal. key recommendation of the Truth and “The Palava Hut system has never “It will take Reconciliation Commission (TRC) – an before been used nationally. This is offshoot of the 2003 Accra Compre- the first time that we’ll attempt to use a while. hensive Peace Agreement. it nationally to resolve issues arising Reconciliation Established in 2006, the TRC incon- from the war,” Boakai concedes. clusively probed a number of cases. Its To walk through the maze, the is gradual, dealings, however, remain shrouded in INCHR is relying on guidance from controversy. Conversely, proponents experts and traditional leaders. The and could of the Palava Hut believe this cultural Commission plans to conduct a coun- even take a heritage of Liberia offers abusers a trywide ethnographic study of Palava much wider space to own up and sin- Hut practices and, from the findings, generation.”
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 13 Joint Border Patrols Boost Regional Security By Stefanie Carmichael
here are but a few places Border security is considered very crucial for where UN peacekeepers on maintaining peace. That’s why both Liberia and either side of the Liberia- Côte d’Ivoire border can Côte d’Ivoire are keen to collaborate. actually gain access to that Tborder. Often, the closest lateral road is still 20-30 kilometers away, and even that through thick vegetation that is only accessible by unmapped foot paths. And yet, monitoring and gather- ing information from the border areas is vital in assessing regional security. That is just one of the reasons why the United Nations Mission in Libe- ria (UNMIL) and the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) have teamed up to conduct joint border patrols as part of Operation Mayo. As Capt. Juan Carlos Zapata, an Ecuadorian peacekeeper based in Zwedru, explains, these monthly or bimonthly joint patrols allow access and information that would otherwise be near impossible to get. “There are points that we can reach that they [UNOCI peacekeepers] can- not reach and vice-versa,” he says. “What we do is, we meet at different border crossing points. We exchange information; we discuss our findings on either side of the border.” In the six months that he has been based at Team Site 7, Zapata is reas- sured by the security situation. “We’ve been noticing a lot of prog-
Military Observers from peacekeeping missions in Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire meet at a border crossing point in Grand Gedeh County to exchange security information
14 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 ress that they’re making out here. The situation has been calm, peaceful,” he says. “We want to make sure that the Liberian security agents are setting the example. They’ve got to keep it calm and cool. That’s what it’s all about.” In last month’s joint patrol, Zapata and teammate Lt. William Abbott went to B’hai Jorzon, a border crossing point 80 kilometers northwest of Zwedru. There, they met with Lt.-Col. Roque Farias and Lt. Darimossi Mohamadu of UNOCI to exchange information. “Everything has been calm since I’ve been here,” explains Mohamadu. “I heard before I arrived that there were some problems but since I arrived everything has been fine.” Mohamadu has been based in Toulépleu for the last four months, where he and his seven teammates work as Military Observers for UNOCI. “After this, we will go back to Toulé- pleu and do a summary report to see what we can learn from it. The collabo- ration works well.” On this particular occasion, Zapata and Abbott crossed the border to speak to members of the Force Re- publicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) and email saying, ‘Hey, what is this that Lt. Col. Roque Farias (left), a Military Observer from other national security agents on the you’re talking about that there’s move- ONUCI, discusses border patrol information with Cpt. Juan Carlos Zapata (centre) of UNMIL Ivorian side, including Theodore Balo. ment along the border. We need more Balo has been based at this border information. Redo your patrol sched- crossing for months and insists the ule and go visit that place again in a collaborate to ensure their borders heavily armed officers and Moroccan couple of days,’” recalls Zapata. remain calm and trouble-free. peacekeepers in tanks – a markedly Abbott also notes positive changes stronger security presence than their as a result of their patrols. “If I report Liberian counterparts – are there only something like a border crossing point ‘‘We meet at dif- to deal with any emergency. is significantly undermanned, under- “So far everything has been quiet,” trained, it won’t happen overnight ferent border he said. “But we want to be ready just but I have seen on succeeding visits crossing points. in case.” increased manpower, better equipped Operation Mayo, which signals manpower, uniformed agents. I have We exchange the cooperation of military and police seen those things.” forces between the two countries, was Given the history of West Africa, information; reactivated in March 2012. Since then, where armed groups have in the past we discuss these regular joint patrols have helped easily crossed borders to cause trou- inform Force Operations and Planning. ble in neighbouring countries, border our findings on “There are times I would send our security is considered very crucial for patrol report and within a couple of maintaining peace. That’s why both either side of hours I would get a phone call or an Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire are keen to the border.”
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 15 Building Liberian Returnees’ Capacity By Romeo Juwle Togba
50 Liberian returnees benefitted from the two- month training that skilled them in the setting up and managing of small businesses.
n excited Charlotte Kieh employed two persons. I am going to use cannot wait to get on board the knowledge acquired to better manage the next car headed for my business in a way that enables me to Grand Kru County. provide more employment opportunities Her goal is to move into to Liberians.” Aone of Liberia’s far away counties to train UNIDO-Liberia Technical Adviser Jovita young women and men in the setting up Culaton Viray is already upbeat about the and management of small businesses. impact the business development is go- Kieh is one of the graduates of a ing to have on the economy of Liberia. United Nations Industrial Development “With fifty people who now have the Organization (UNIDO)-sponsored En- capacity to train others in how to start trepreneurship Development Training of and manage a business, I don’t see why Trainers programme. we cannot put in and plant the small seed The initiative is an offshoot of a for the small and medium enterprises scheme aimed at reintegrating Liberian that will soon provide employment for our returnees through skills training and job people here in Liberia,” Viray asserted. creation. Viray also disclosed plans by UNIDO 50 Liberian returnees benefitted from to take the capacity building of Liberian the two-month training that skilled them returnees a step forward by engaging into in the setting up and managing of small a partnership with vocational and techni- businesses. cal institutions. “I am thinking of going to places like “We will be working with some of the Grand Kru and Gbarpolu to help vulnera- vocational schools to provide skills train- ble girls and women attain business skills ings for three hundred returnees,” said that will improve their wellbeing,” said Viray. Kieh, who returned to Liberia two years “All those who will be doing skills train- ago along with three of her male siblings. ing, it will be mandatory that they undergo “I am running a pastry shop and have business development training. This is going to improve their employability,” added Viray. LRRRC Executive Director Abla Williams speaks at the The Executive Director of the Liberia graduation of 50 UNIDO trainees Photo: Romeo Togba/UNMIL Refugees Repatriation and Resettlement
16 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 UNIDO presents certificates to the 50 trainees of its skills training programme Photo: Romeo Togba/UNMIL
shall, is hopeful that the training will help in creating a group of entrepre- neurs that can be active players in their country’s economy. “With skills acquired, it is important that we form ourselves into coopera- tives and set up businesses that make us have a key stake in the economy of this country in the next ten years,” a hopeful Marshall said. Williams is convinced that entre- preneurship development training for returnees like the one sponsored by UNIDO will send out a message that Liberians are ready to gather the skills needed to transform their country. “This training could hopefully serve as a sign-post that Liberians are ready to take charge of their economy,” said Williams.
“it is important that we form ourselves into Graduates of UNIDO skills training programme attend many years,” Williams observed. their graduation ceremony “This is also an important step cooperatives Photo: Romeo Togba/UNMIL towards helping Liberians acquire the and set up skills needed to be their own employ- Commission (LRRRC), Abla Gadegbeku ers and reduce heavy reliance on the businesses that Williams, commended UNIDO for the government for employment.” training. The Liberia Returnee Network, an make us have a “Providing skills training for return- organization of Liberian returnees also key stake in ees is a catalyst for helping returnees played a part in mobilizing the trainees. resettle well after living in exile for The group’s head, E. Tyrone Mar- the economy.”
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 17 FAO Conducts Training for Blacksmiths in Metal Silos By Wellington Railey, Jr.
that some 500 metal silos will be put at the disposal of farmers in the border communities to preserve grain and seed over long periods. “These metal silos can hold between 90 and 500 kilos. One of them with a capacity of 500 kilos can conserve the grain needed to feed a family of five for six months or more,” Kpassawah explained. The trainees, too, were very thankful for the initiative. Visibly thrilled at the idea, Nathaniel S. Saaleh from Nimba County said he devoted a great deal of his time to the production of metal silos. Ruth D. Wilson, a female participant from Grand Gedeh County was no less delighted. “It’s good for women to learn such skills,” she quipped, boast- ing, “What man can do, woman can do!”
“It’s good for s part of a plan by the UN FAO trains 30 blacksmiths in the fabrication of metal silos. women to learn Food and Agriculture Or- Photo: Wellington Railey, Jr./UNMIL ganization (FAO) to fight such skills,” hunger and boost food security in Liberia, close border food security project launched she quipped, Ato 100 metal silos have been construct- recently by FAO to boost food produc- ed for farmers in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh tion in communities along the Liberia- boasting, County. Côte d’Ivoire border. “What man can In mid-November, some 30 black- Kpassawah says the silos will be smiths from Grand Gedeh, Nimba, River a big relief for farmers, as they will no do, woman Gee, Maryland and Sinoe Counties longer suffer losses generally associ- were trained in the fabrication of metal ated with traditional methods of grain can do!” silos. storage. According to the FAO, the idea was The FAO Field Officer notes that to train the blacksmiths, and then traditional storage methods account 30-40% award them contracts to produce more for 30-40 per cent of losses in Liberia’s of losses in Liberia’s cereal harvests silos for local farmers. cereal harvests. is due to traditional storage Project Manager Albert Kpassawah At the weeklong training workshop methods says the programme is part of a cross- in Zwedru, Kpassawah told UN Focus
18 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 Early Warning System Launched By Daylue Goah
Having an early warning system, especially for forecasting the weather system, provides the capacity to respond in a more systematic and effective way to safeguard the environment and its people.
he Environmental Protection mitment to strengthening Liberia’s DSRSG Chuma speaks at the official launch of Liberia’s Agency (EPA) in collabora- capacity to provide information that new Early Warning System tion with the United Nations enhances climate development and Development Programme adaptation for climate change. (UNDP) took a step forward Chuma also applauded the Gov- through the Least Developed Coun- Ttowards achieving greater environmen- ernment of Liberia for what he calls a try’s Funds (LCDF) of the UN Frame- tal protection and sustainability with “laudable initiative,” which is aligned work Convention on Climate Change the launch on 7 October 2013 of an with its national plan of action and (UNFCCC). The LDCF is supporting Early Warning System (EWS) to moni- agenda for transformation. similar initiatives in ten other countries tor Liberia’s climate. “We thank the Government for pri- in Africa, including Benin, Burkina The Deputy Special Representative oritizing the Early Warning System and Faso, Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi, Sierra of the Secretary-General, Aeneas C. climate change issues, and call upon Leone, São Tomé & Príncipe, Tanzania, Chuma, speaking at the formal signing all stakeholders to support the project Uganda and Zambia. ceremony said having an early warning to ensure its successful implementa- “This Early Warning System will system, especially for forecasting the tion,” said Chuma. “We’ve come a long have three key outcomes: The capacity weather system, provides the capacity way, but there is still a lot more to be to predict weather and climate related to respond in a more systematic and done in our collective effort to build hazard, the use of environmental and effective way to safeguard the environ- resilience and reduce vulnerability social economic data and increased ment and its people. related to climate change.” awareness of all stakeholders includ- He said the launching of the EWS The EWS is being supported by ing the coastal community,” said demonstrates the UN’s strong com- the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Chuma.
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 19 Farmer-to-Farmer Exchange Promotes Grassroots Sharing By Daylue Goah
The main objective of the Farmer-to- Farmer Exchange is to enhance resilience and reduce vulnerability of poor farming communities to the adverse impacts of climate change.
he Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Food and Ag- climate change and protecting the through its Climate Change riculture Organization (FAO), recently environment. Adaptation Project funded concluded a two-day Farmer-to-Farmer At the two-day event, locals trans- by the Global Environment Exchange in Grand Gedeh County. lated “climate change” into their local Facility (GEF) and United Its aim was to renew commitment to Krahn and Kpelle vernacular: “Nohn- TNations Development Programme, and strengthening farmers’ resilience to bee ji” and “Meinnee ma fallahnwon /
20 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 He noted that the Farmer-to-Farmer thanked supporting partners for their Exchange will also help the farmers interest in getting first-hand informa- learn and adopt the innovations so that tion about farmers’ knowledge when it they can increase their incomes and comes to climate change. He indicated better support their families, as well as that the exercise will help rural farmers encouraging them to remain orga- in adapting to the changing time and nized, build a center and continue the seasons and act accordingly in safe- exchange of lessons. guarding their crops. Atty. Roland Lepol is the National Kanie Merfee of the FAO reviewed Project Coordinator of the Climate the risks, impacts and vulnerabilities Change Adaptation Agriculture Project associated with climate change, and (CCAAP). In his remarks, he assured took the farmers through photos of cli- the farmers that naming climate mate change impact taken from Panta change in their vernacular was a key and Gbarzon Districts. step forward to ensuring that local Meanwhile, Oretha W. Geneyan, a lo- A cross-section of farmers at the workshop knowledge and experience are fully cal farmer from Gbarzon District spoke captured as part of adaption measures. of relief and said she was excited about The main objective of the Farmer-to- the initiative and promised to apply the hellay ma fallawon” respectively. Farmer Exchange is to enhance resil- lessons learned in her coming harvest. “It was important to translate climate ience and reduce vulnerability of poor Speaking of her experience, she said change in a local vernacular so that this farming communities to the adverse due to the changes in the condition of phenomenon can be understood well impacts of climate change. To achieve the climate, she yielded a small harvest and the message spread across the this, the project aims to mainstream from past seasons but with the les- communities and regions in order to adaptation concerns into agriculture sons acquired from this exchange and help find a local solution and not blam- sector development policies, plans and the establishment of the Farmer Field ing it on any supernatural powers,” said investment decisions. School, she could now look in a new the Assistant Minister of Agriculture In his remarks, Ministry of Agricul- direction and make sound decisions to Chea B. Garley. ture County Coordinator Maxwell Juwor suit changing conditions.
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 21 UNHCR Puts LRRRC and MoJ on the Move By Sulaiman Momodu
s part of its efforts to contribute to 27 of the motorcycles, each valued at nearly institutional capacity building, the US$ 4,000, were donated to the LRRRC, while five United Nations High Commissioner of them were donated to the Ministry of Justice. for Refugees (UNHCR) in October The Ministry of Justice also received various office donated 32 Yahama motorcycles and equipment and supplies such as desktop comput- Adozens of assorted office equipment and supplies ers, typewriters, chairs, drawers, and tables. valued at over US$ 150,000 to the Liberia Refu- UNHCR Representative, Khassim Diagne, hand- gee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission ed over the keys to the motorcycles to the Execu- (LRRRC) and the Ministry of Justice. tive Director of the LRRRC, Cllr. Abla G. Williams,
22 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 The Executive Director of the LRRRC tries out one of ing its sense of duty to the cause and 32 motorcycles donated by UNHCR for the protection safety of refugees and other persons of of refugees and border monitoring. Photo: Sulaiman Momodu/UNHCR concern in Liberia.” For her part, Deputy Minister Cllr. Barnes, who is a former Executive Diagne said the donation to the Director of the LRRRC, lauded the LRRRC, UNHCR’s main Government UNHCR for its continued collaboration partner, was part of the UN refugee with Ministry of Justice. “We are very agency’s continued support to the Gov- grateful for this continuous collabora- ernment of Liberia for the protection of tion with the UNHCR as we implement refugees, while the Ministry of Justice our activities aimed at strengthening is one of the key ministries the UNHCR the justice system for the promotion of works with as it deals with issues of peace and stability in our country”. asylum and refugee laws. In addition to the LRRRC and the Pointing out that the UNHCR has Ministry of Justice, the UN refugee been supporting the LRRRC over the agency in November donated agricul- years, and assuring that the motor- tural tools to the World Food Pro- cycles would be used for the intended gramme and the Food and Agriculture purpose of border monitoring and Organization. Each sister UN agency community mobilization, Cllr. Williams received 3,715 axes and 4,090 pickaxes expressed sincere gratitude to the to boost agricultural activities in coun- UNHCR “for once again demonstrat- ties hosting refugees.
while the items for the Ministry of Justice were handed over to the Deputy Minister of Justice for Administration and Public Safety, Cllr. Wheatonia Y. Dixon Barnes.
The 32 motorcycles, valued at over US$150,000, will be used by both LRRRC and the Ministry of Justice. Photo: Sulaiman Momodu/UNHCR
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 23 “Come Home” By Sulaiman Momodu
aking a rather passion- Gedeh capital in south-eastern Liberia. 220,000 ate plea and assur- Addressing the end of a three-day Ivorians fled to seek refuge in ing them of security Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Liberia three years ago and safety, President Meeting held near the Liberia border Alassane Ouattara of with Côte d’Ivoire in October, which MCôte d’Ivoire has called on thousands was attended by 100 chiefs from the 55,000 of his compatriots still living as refu- two countries and by Ivorian refugee Ivorian refugees currently living gees in Liberia to return home. representatives, the Ivorian leader in Liberia “The country needs you. The country noted that 15 years ago it was Côte needs your contribution to the ongo- d’Ivoire that hosted Liberian refugees ing reconstruction efforts,” the Ivorian while three years ago, it was Liberia leader appealed in Zwedru, the Grand that received Ivorians seeking refuge.
24 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 prevent the repatriation process com- made a presentation at the meeting, ing to a halt. recommending improved security, an Assuring nearly 55,000 Ivorian increase in the repatriation grant, and refugees currently living in Liberia that addressing land disputes as issues that they will be assisted to return to Côte would encourage more returns to Côte d’Ivoire and contribute to the develop- d’Ivoire. They also thanked the Govern- ment of their country, President Ellen ment and people of Liberia for their Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia pledged her generosity in hosting them. Government’s support to UNHCR’s About 220,000 Ivorians fled to seek repatriation efforts. “We will do all we refuge in Liberia following disputed can to support you to return home,” the presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire Liberian leader assured the refugees. three years ago. Most of the refugees Among other resolutions, the have, however, returned home on their Communique issued at the end of the own or through UNHCR’s assistance. meeting urged the Liberian and Ivorian The refugees are mostly living in four governments to work with the admin- refugee camps and communities in istrative and political authorities, the Grand Gedeh, Maryland and Nimba refugees, and UNHCR in order to find counties. durable solutions aimed at facilitating the voluntary repatriation of refugees.
Fourteen representatives from the President Ouattara appealing to Ivorian refugees to four Ivorian refugee camps in Liberia return home
Some Ivorian refugees in Liberia. Photo: Sulaiman Momodu/UNMIL
To loud cheers and applause, President Ouattara disclosed that the two countries have decided to pave the Toulépleu - Zwedru road, a major axis being used during the ongoing voluntary repatriation exercise, in order to enable the free movement of people and goods. UNHCR recently rehabili- tated critical portions of the road to
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 25 For One Female Farmer Dreams Come True By Daylue Goah
orpo Mawolo travelled all the way the expansion of her farmland in order to meet from Voinjama District, Lofa County, the growing demand for produce in that region. just to take part in this year’s celebra- “I sat by myself one day and saw the need for tion of World Food Day in Fendell, so many things in our local market here. People outside Monrovia. Not even the were bringing produce from other countries that Kheavy downpour of rain on that day could stop we can produce here. I expanded my farmland her as she struggled with chickens that her or- and started producing cash crops and everything ganization, Vezela Rural Women, had bred to put started going well before I turned the entire on display at the celebration. dream into an organization so that other women Korpo started her business with a small farm can be part of the process,” said Korpo. in Lofa County principally for subsistence pur- Korpo, a mother of eight, said her dream of poses but the dream gradually got bigger with becoming a commercial farmer gradually took
26 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 shape when the UN Food and Agricul- ing care of the chickens and provided humans face daily food shortages that ture Organization (FAO) came in and other equipment that we currently use prevent them from working, stunt the introduced her to a new form of farm- in preparing meal for the chickens. growth of their children, expose them ing -poultry. This eventually enabled This initiative is helping us greatly and to illness and lead to premature death. her to recruit over 100 women, thus the chickens are reproducing in large The health of another 2 billion people establishing Vezela Rural Women, an numbers,” Korpo noted. is compromised by nutrient deficien- organization that has since gained Korpo said she will work with the cies. At the other end of the spectrum, sponsorship from the FAO. other women and turn the project into another 1.5 billion are overweight or a township dream where the poultry obese, consuming more food than their site will be made into a community bodies need and exposing themselves to house the caretakers and their to a greater threat of diabetes, heart children. problems and other diseases.”
‘‘I sat by myself one day and saw the need for so many things in our local market here. People were bringing produce from other countries that we can produce here. I expanded my farmland and started producing cash crops and everything started going well before I turned the entire dream into an organization so that other women can be part of the process.’’
“I am hoping that as the project expands and we start to get enough money, we will build shelters here and 840 Million also erect schools for our children, thus people face daily food shortages turning the poultry ground into a com- that prevent them from working, munity.” stunt the growth of their children, As the day came to a close, Korpo expose them to illness and lead to received more than 10 buyers for her premature death chickens and could be seen with a big smile. 2 Billion World Food Day was first celebrated people are compromised by nutri- Korpo Mawolo displays her chickens at World Food in 1979 to help increase understanding ent deficiencies Day celebrations of the problems and solutions in the Photo: FAO drive to end hunger. This year’s event was held under the theme, “Sustain- 1.5 Billion Vezela Rural Women recently re- able Food Systems for Food Security people are overweight or obese, ceived 1,000 chickens and 200 layers and Nutrition.” consuming more food than their from the FAO as a form of empowering FAO Director-General Dr. Jose Gra- bodies need and exposing them- the organization and the women in ziano da Silva’s message was read on selves to a greater threat of dia- realizing their dream of making a posi- his behalf by the organization’s Coun- betes, heart problems and other tive impact in rural Liberia. try Director, Mr. Jean-Alexandre Scaglia. diseases “After we received the chickens and In his message, Dr. Silva reminded the the layers, FAO also trained us in tak- world that close to “840 million fellow
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 27 U.S. Congressmen See UN Impact in Liberia First-Hand By Stefanie Carmichael
The Rhode Island Democrat and Illinois Republican were visiting Liberia to assess the impact of the UN in the country’s ten years since its civil war.
t was a whirlwind four days for United States Congress- During their visit, the Representatives visited a One-Stop men David Cicilline and Adam Kinzinger. By the time Centre for Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) in they arrived at Roberts International Airport on Monday, Monrovia, which provides free services to SGBV survivors. 4 November, a packed schedule of events and meet- The Centre is funded by the Government of Liberia/UN Joint ings that would take them from the President’s Office in Programme on the Prevention and Response to SGBV. The IMonrovia to the Tubmanburg Central Prison and much more Representatives toured a Women’s Centre in the West Point in between, was already waiting for them. Township and a partner of the United Nations Children’s Organized and paid for by the United Nations Founda- Fund (UNICEF), established after two girls from the commu- tion, a private non-profit organization established by CNN nity were gang raped and killed in 2002. Founder Ted Turner that mobilizes support for UN work To better understand the state of Rule of Law in Liberia, around the world, the Rhode Island Democrat and Illinois the Representatives visited the Liberian National Police Republican were visiting Liberia to assess the impact of the Academy, where UN Police are working to improve the UN in the country’s ten years since its civil war. capacity and capability of the national police force, and the
28 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 The UN SRSG welcomes U.S. Congressmen to UNMIL Headquarters (Left) The U.S. Congressmen meet with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Right) Photo: Ahmed Jallanzo
Tubmanburg Central Prison, where the United Nations Mission in Libe- ria (UNMIL) is providing support in the form of Corrections Advisors and Quick Impact Projects, which recently funded a health post in the facility. A meeting with Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf also saw her reassure the Congressmen of the Government’s commitment to upholding the Rule of Law following UNMIL’s impending departure. Speaking to journalists at home, Cicilline said the trip opened his eyes to the realities of what it means to be post-conflict. “They’re literally rebuilding a country almost from scratch,” he told the Providence Journal, a local newspaper in his home state of Rhode Island. “But they’re at a really critical stage right now. Over the next two years, they’re The stories of sexual and gender-based going to have to significantly step up their capacity to take on these chal- violence he heard from young girls in West lenges. It’s sort of the moment of truth.” point, some as young as nine years old, proved The stories of sexual and gender- based violence he heard from young to be the most challenging part of his trip. girls in West point, some as young as nine years old, proved to be the most challenging part of his trip, he said. “Really heartbreaking stories. Rape is a pervasive, horrific and a very, very serious problem.” Rhode Island is home to one of the largest concentrations of Liberians in the U.S. During his visit, Cicilline deliv- ered tens of letters of thanks from his constituents to UNMIL as part of the Better World’s Thank a Peacekeeper campaign. Cicilline also met with sev- eral in the Liberian community on his return to update them on the situation in their home country.
The U.S. Congressmen meet with local women to hear their stories Photo: Ahmed Jallanzo
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 29 How will Palava Hut Help Reconciliation?
Margaret Weagba, Staff, Inquirer Newspaper, Monrovia: Peace and reconciliation depends on the individuals concerned. Palava Hut will bring back past bitter experi- ences from our conflict. It takes strong hearts to forgive and forget. Admittance of guilt alone may not Harris Korvah, Farmer, Berd- Harriet S. Guladia, Resident, bring about peace and reconcilia- nersville Community: I strongly Roberts’ Field Highway: Palava Hut tion. Liberians should just forget believe that Palava Hut approach approach for peace and reconcili- the past and forge ahead with is the best for achieving peace and ation is a good idea. Liberians are their lives as a way of reconciling reconciliation in Liberia. Everyone now focused on maintaining peace ourselves. hurt everyone during our civil war. and reconciling themselves. Palava The coming together of perpetrators Hut will be the right forum to settle and aggrieved parties at the Palava all matters arising from Truth and Hut to iron out our differences Reconciliation Commission (TRC) arising from the civil war will lead recommendations. us to peace and reconciliation. This is going to take a long time, but gradually we will achieve peace and reconciliation.
Morris Kollie, Mechanics, 11th Street, Sinkor: I think the idea of introducing Palava Hut forum to settle grievances against perpetra- tors of crimes committed during our civil war will take us to peace and reconciliation. Palava Hut is a place where traditional leaders and towns’ people gather to hear com- plaints against another person.
30 UN FOCUS September - November 2013 How will Palava Hut Help Reconciliation?
Mercy Dweh, Vendor, Monrovia: Palava Hut may remind us about our ugly past and cause some peo- ple to stay away from the process. Because sitting before somebody who narrates story about the death of your loved ones is a painstak- ing experience. I think Palava Hut E. Frederick Baye, National Execu- should be avoided. My father was Tito Juah, Youth Leader, Block ‘C’ tive Chairman, Patriotic Conscious- killed during the war. I don’t know Community, Neezoe, Somalia Drive: ness Association (PACA): Any who killed him. If someone tells me Palava Hut will be another long way attempt now to introduce a Palava he or she was responsible for the off to peace. But after Palava Hut Hut arrangement for peace and death of my father I may be upset what follows? We have welcomed reconciliation in Liberia is belated. by that. But as Christians, we are the court process by letting our Such approach should have been told to forgive. ex-president (Charles Taylor) go to initiated at the Accra Peace ar- court and it would augur well if rangement in 2003, when the Tran- Liberians pursued the conventional sitional Council was set up and the approach by utilizing our court settling up of the TRC. Palava Hut is system as opposed to Palava Hut. an attempt by some individuals in Palava Hut approach can be appli- the current system and their inter- cable at community level but when national partners to siphon justice. it comes to state actors who com- mitted crimes, the court becomes the best arena for justice.
Seh C. Kamara, Sr., Resident, New Georgia: I think the idea behind Palava Hut is intended to ignore TRC. Too much money was spent on TRC activities and to date no impact has been felt. Again we are going after Palava Hut where huge sum of money will be spent again probably with no achievement.
September - November 2013 UN FOCUS 31 UN FOCUS, Vol. 10, No. 01 A publication of the United Nations Mission in Liberia Public Information Office www.unmil.unmissions.org