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'My job is to make children hopeful': inside Liberia's deaf school
10 August 2016 - Disabled Liberians are among the most marginalised in society. But one school is trying to ensure students lead full lives. Oscar Romero school for deaf children is one of a handful of specialist privately run facilities for children with disabilities in Liberia. Elsewhere in LIberia, Varney N Steward, set up a school for a town that lacked one, despite being blind and destitute. (more)

Michelle Obama, daughters in Africa to push girls' education
27 June 2016 - First lady Michelle Obama visited a leadership camp for girls in Liberia to launch her latest Africa visit Monday, urging the teens in one of the world's poorest countries to keep fighting to stay in school. With her own teenage daughters joining her, Mrs Obama told the girls she was 'just so thrilled to be here with you.' She said, 'I'm here to shine a big bright light on you.' Education for girls is the central theme of the First Lady's trip, which also includes stops in Morocco and Spain. She was welcomed on her arrival in Liberia with a red carpet and traditional dancers. (more)

Liberia will end Ebola curfew and reopen borders, says President
20 February 2015 - Liberia plans to lift a night curfew imposed six months ago and reopen borders closed to contain the spread of Ebola, as the threat from the virus recedes, the President said on Friday. Its schools began reopening this week in another sign that life is returning to normal. (more)

Liberia signs 'transformational' deal to stem deforestation thanks to Norway
23 September 2014 - Liberia is to become the first nation in Africa to completely stop cutting down its trees in return for development aid. Norway will pay the impoverished West African country $150m (£91.4m) to stop deforestation by 2020. 'We hope Liberia will be able to cut emissions and reduce poverty at the same time,' said Jens Frolich Holte, a political adviser to the Norwegian government, speaking to the BBC on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in New York. (more)

The revival of the Grain Coast: Organic farming in Liberia
23 October 2013 - Inspired by organic food movements in the US, William Tolbert moved back to his country in 2010 to make a difference as an organic farmer and improve Liberia. He brought with him the concept of creating an environment that will benefit not only consumers but his farm workers and their families as well. (more)

Construction of Liberian library and community centre being helped by Canada
25 September 2013 - Call it a new chapter for Liberia -- the construction of a $2-million library and community centre in Paynesville, on the coast of African nation of Liberia. The library is being built in part by Leo Johnson, a Liberian who escaped a civil war in the 90s to come to Canada. He said he was inspired to start building the Liberian Learning Centre by reading the biography of Samuel Morris, a Liberian prince who moved to the US and went to Taylor University. It was the book he read during his time in the refugee camps. (more)

Liberia to benefit under Chinese fund for education through UNESCO
30 August 2013 - Liberia will be among five new African countries to benefit from the Chinese Funds for Education known as the funds-in-trust agreement between UNESCO and the Government of the People's Republic of China. The fund agreement is to support the capacity development needs of the African countries, namely, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, and Liberia is in relations to teachers' education and professional development. (more)

'Remarkable Milestone': UN mission hails 10-year anniversary of Liberia's peace accord
20 August 2013 - The top United Nations peacekeeping official in Liberia has congratulated the people and Government of the country on more than a decade of sustainable peace and urged them to participate in public life to prevent a return to the 'dark days of the past'. To mark the 10th anniversary, thousands of Liberians have for the past several days displayed the country's red, white, and blue flag, and taken part in cultural celebrations in the capital Monrovia and around the country. (more)

Liberia booming but still needs peacekeepers: President
19 August 2013 - Speaking on the 10th anniversary of the end of 14 years of on-off civil war, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told Reuters peace, investment, and an eightfold-fold increase in government revenues were concrete signs of recovery. The West African country -- stabilized by a UN peacekeeping mission and under of the leadership of Nobel Peace Prize winner Sirleaf since 2006 -- is slowly recovering and has since lured major investors. (more)

Liberia's President marks decade of peace
19 August 2013 - Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf celebrated a decade of peace on Sunday by attending a prayer service. The service at Saint Peter's Lutheran Church in Monrovia marked the 10-year anniversary of a peace accord signed in Accra, Ghana. Sirleaf, who won a share of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 before being elected to a second term, has been praised for consolidating peace, attracting foreign investment, and securing debt relief. (more)

Short Summaries of Top Stories

Liberia police fire on protesters as West Africa's Ebola toll hits 1,350
20 August 2014 - Police in the Liberian capital fired live rounds and tear gas on Wednesday to disperse a stone-throwing crowd trying to break an Ebola quarantine imposed on their neighbourhood, as the death toll from the epidemic in West Africa hit 1,350. In the sprawling oceanfront West Point neighbourhood of Monrovia, at least four people were injured in clashes with security forces, witnesses said. Liberian authorities introduced a nationwide curfew on Tuesday and put the West Point neighbourhood under quarantine to curb the spread of the disease. 'The soldiers are using live rounds,' said army spokesman Dessaline Allison, adding: 'The soldiers applied the rules of engagement. They did not fire on peaceful citizens. There will be medical reports if (an injury) was from bullet wounds.' Attempts to isolate the worst affected areas of the country and neighbouring Sierra Leone have raised fears of unrest in one of the world's poorest regions should communities start to run low on food and medical supplies. In an effort to calm tensions, authorities on Wednesday started delivering tonnes of rice, oil, and essential foodstuffs to West Point, residents and a government official said. (more)

Liberia: Ebola fears rise as clinic is looted
17 August 2014 - Liberian officials fear Ebola could soon spread through the capital's largest slum after residents raided a quarantine centre for suspected patients and took items including bloody sheets and mattresses. The violence in the West Point slum occurred late Saturday and was led by residents angry that patients were brought to the holding centre from other parts of Monrovia, Tolbert Nyenswah, assistant health minister, said Sunday. Up to 30 patients were staying at the centre and many of them fled at the time of the raid, said Nyenswah. Once they are located they will be transferred to the Ebola centre at Monrovia's largest hospital, he said. West Point residents went on a 'looting spree,' stealing items from the clinic that were likely infected, said a senior police official, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the press. 'All between the houses you could see people fleeing with items looted from the patients,' the official said, adding that he now feared 'the whole of West Point will be infected.' The incident creates a new challenge for Liberian health officials who were already struggling to contain the outbreak. Liberian police restored order to the West Point neighbourhood Sunday. Sitting on land between the Montserrado River and the Atlantic Ocean, West Point is home to at least 50,000 people, according to a 2012 survey. Distrust of government runs high in West Point, with rumours regularly circulating that the government plans to clear the slum out entirely. (more)

Dozens dead in clash with Libyan militiamen in Tripoli
15 November 2013 - At least 32 people were killed and almost 400 wounded in gun battles between Libyan militiamen and armed residents in Tripoli on Friday in some of the worst street fighting in the capital since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan is struggling to control rival militias, Islamist militants, and other former fighters who refuse to surrender their arms two years after helping to oust Gaddafi in a NATO-backed revolt. After Friday's violence, Zeidan demanded that all militias 'without exception' leave Tripoli, but the clashes underscored how little his fledging military can do to curb ex-rebels, who have also shut down Libya's oil exports for months. Friday's bloodshed began when militiamen from the city of Misrata fired at about 500 protesters demanding their eviction from the capital after they had fought rivals for control of city districts. The authorities have tried to defuse the threat of the militias by placing them on the government payroll and assigning them to provide security. But the gunmen often remain loyal mostly to their own commanders and fight for control of local areas, especially their weapons or drug smuggling rackets, or to settle personal feuds. (more)

25,000 fail Liberia college entrance exam
29 August 2013 - Nearly every one of the nearly 25,000 applicants who this year took the University of Liberia's entrance exam have failed. The incident has cast a spotlight on the education sector in this West African nation still recovering from a brutal 14-year civil war that ended in 2003. Along with the undergraduate applicants, all candidates for graduate programs in law, pharmaceutical studies, and six other graduate programs also failed, according to a university press statement. Officials declined to provide copies of the test, which was a multiple-choice exam. Some of the applicants are accusing the university of fraud, and are organizing a march Friday to demand a refund of their exam fees -- nearly $30 per student. In previous years, candidates had been graded on a curve. Under the new system put in place this year, students were required to earn scores of 50 per cent in math and 70 per cent in English in order to pass. Around 300 met the math requirement, but no students met the requirements in English, said S. Momolu Getaweh, the university's public relations chief. (more)

Rampant police corruption harms Liberia's progress - report
22 August 2013 - Rampant police corruption is impeding Liberia's development a decade after its 14-year civil war ended, and abuses should be reined in as the United Nations scales back its presence in the West African country, Human Rights Watch said. Underpaid and inadequately supplied, Liberian police officers demand bribes at every stage of an investigation, the human rights group said on Thursday in a new report, 'No Money, No Justice'. They extort money from taxi drivers and motorcyclists and steal from street vendors, while criminal suspects routinely pay bribes to get released, the report said. When Johnson Sirleaf took office in 2006, she called corruption 'the major public enemy'. Her administration has made some progress in improving arrest procedures and addressing violence against women, Human Rights Watch said. But corruption and abuses persist, denying ordinary Liberians access to justice and money to support their families and frustrating the attempts of people trying to rebuild their lives after the war that killed more than 200,000 people and displaced another million. (more)

Liberia suffering from pervasive drug use
7 December 2012 - Liberia's Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) has been trying to crack down on local drug dealers since the civil war ended but there are significant challenges due to weak laws and logistical problems. Liberia is both a transit point for drugs being transported from South America to Europe, and also a drug-producer, mainly of marijuana which is grown by small-scale producers. 'The fight against illicit drugs in Liberia is a challenging and an overwhelming kind of undertaking. There has not been any kind of legal framework to address the issue. And as such, traffickers, users, and other people take advantage of that weakness and there is a serious problem in the country,' said DEA Director Anthony Souh. Substances were heavily promoted during the civil war. Various concoctions of drugs were reported to be regularly consumed by militias as a form of psychic and physical 'protection' against enemy bullets, and to make fighters brave and fearless. Some 9 per cent of students in Liberia say they use cannabis, according to the UNODC 2012 global drug report, while the increased trafficking of cocaine has also led to increased cocaine use across the region. (more)

Ghana-Liberia: Limbo for ex-Liberian refugees
3 October 2012 - Over 6,000 Liberian refugee have been living in Buduburam refugee camp near the Ghanaian capital Accra for over two decades after fleeing the civil war in 1990. In June 2012, they lost their refugee status alongside 11,000 Liberians across the region, and the camp will soon be handed over to the district assembly. But lingering fear prevents many Liberians from returning home. Of the residents at Buduburam camp, Some 4,000 have applied for local integration, around 1,000 will return to Liberia, and about 1,000 are applying for exemption to remain as refugees. A significant number of people in the camp have little choice but to stay as they have no identification cards or paperwork. Living on the margins of Ghanaian society, there are few opportunities to find work. Nowadays Buduburam no longer resembles a refugee camp but is like any poor Accra suburb, with dilapidated houses, and shops selling clothes and cheap Chinese goods. The neighbourhood became associated with crime and lawlessness over the years and police carry out periodic raids to arrest criminals. Even so, some prefer to stay on the sidelines of Ghanaian society than return to the past. (more)

Shady deals threaten Liberian rainforest - report
4 September 2012 - Liberia's forestry department has given a quarter of the nation's land to logging firms over the past two years in a flurry of shady deals now under investigation by the government, advocacy group Global Witness said on Tuesday. Global Witness said its research revealed that the scale of the deals marked a serious threat to the war-torn and impoverished country's vast rainforests, as well as to the hundreds of thousands of people who depend on them. 'A quarter of Liberia's total landmass has been granted to logging companies in just two years, following an explosion in the use of secretive and often illegal logging permits,' the group said in a statement. 'Unless this crisis is tackled immediately, the country's forests could suffer widespread devastation, leaving the people who depend upon them stranded and undoing the country's fragile progress since the resource-fuelled conflicts of 1989 to 2003.' Logging has been a controversial issue in Liberia since the civil war, when rebels used proceeds from timber to purchase weapons. (more)

Liberian presidential poll marred by boycott
8 November 2011 - An election that was supposed to solidify peace in this nation emerging from war was marred by dismal turnout Tuesday, after the opposition went ahead with a boycott. The move guarantees re-election for the continent's first and only democratically elected female President, but election monitors and country experts worry that the low turnout could discredit the victory and delegitimize her government. It's a worrying prospect in the nation of 3.9 million that experienced one of Africa's most horrific civil wars and where a fragile peace is held in place largely by the presence of 9,000 United Nations peacekeepers. Helicopters hovered overhead Tuesday and armoured-personnel carriers patrolled the main boulevards, especially in the neighbourhood where the opposition is headquartered. At least one person was killed and another four suffered bullet wounds after CDC supporters clashed with police on Monday, as they attempted to lead a march in support of the boycott. (more)

Libya forces shell rebel-held city amid truce push
11 April 2011 - Libyan government forces battered the rebel-held city of Misrata with artillery fire on Monday despite an announcement by African mediators hours earlier that Moammar Gadhafi had accepted their cease-fire proposal. The shelling killed six people, one of them a 3-year-old girl, a doctor said. Concern about civilian casualties is centered on Misrata. Residents of the city say Gadhafi's forces have shelled the city from its outskirts for weeks and lined a main street with snipers. In Geneva, the UN children's agency said Monday that at least 20 children have been killed and many more have been injured in the city over the past three weeks. Children as young as 9 months were among the victims and the majority were under 10 years of age, UNICEF said. (more)


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