Annual Report: Liberia 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Liberia 2011

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Although the law prohibited the employment of children under the age of 16 during school hours, child labour was widespread, including the worst forms of child labour, such as hazardous labour in the alluvial diamond industry, rock breaking for construction, and child prostitution and trafficking. The Ministry of Labour's Child Labour Commission responsible for enforcing child labour laws and policies was largely ineffective.

Cases of children in conflict with the law continued to be addressed inappropriately due to the absence of a functional juvenile justice system.

Resettlement and land disputes

A large number of internally displaced people and refugees were in need of adequate resettlement. Between 2004 and late 2010, more than 168,000 Liberians returned home out of a total registered refugee population of 233,264. Unofficial returns were uncounted. The arrival of close to 30,000 Ivorian refugees in Liberia created a crisis, putting added pressure on strained and impoverished communities. Ivorian and other refugees in Liberia were often in desperate straits, with little access to food, water, shelter, jobs, education, or much-needed medical care.

Many former Liberian refugees who returned home faced destitution, with scarce job opportunities, lack of access to land, shelter and water in addition to lack of basic services, such as health care and education. Some returned refugees became internally displaced because their property had been appropriated by others. Violent land disputes often arose between returning land owners who fled the war and internally displaced people who took over their land; these conflicts were often exacerbated by unclear land titles and the lack of government action to address the problem. Land disputes heightened ethnic tensions between the Krahn and the Sarpo, between the Krahn and the Gio, between the Mandingo and Gio/Mano, and between the Kissi and the Gbandi.

Inter-ethnic and religious violence

Despite frequent interaction between the Christian majority and the Muslim minority, some tensions existed, occasionally leading to killings, burning, looting, and damaging of Catholic and Muslim religious edifices by rival ethnic and religious groups. One particularly serious instance of mass inter-ethnic, religious violence occurred in Voinjama and Konia, in Lofa County in February.