Monday, April 30, 2007


In an article recently published by Observer magazine, written by aclaimed author Zadie Frost, the torrid sate of life across Liberia was revealed. As is the trend across post-Colonial Africa, Liberia has struggled, pretty much since it was established as a haven for freed slaves in the 1870s. The slaves arrived penniless and their predicament has remained the same. Yet why? They have been recipients of US aid for almost thrice as long as Israel, another state inhabited by one-time refugees and a nation that has thrived due largely to aid, mostly from the USA.
In the civil war the droned on for the best part of a decade, 300,000 civilians died. Millions were made homeless. Child soldiers were a plenty, their minds a manic haze clouded by hallucinatory drugs. Scores of women were raped by opposing militiamen and mercenaries. Yet where was the foreign intervention so desperately needed. The US, Liberia's main foreign benefactor were busy. On the roulette table that is the Pentagon, Iraq and the Balkans came up first, so the atrocities committed by Charles Taylor's minions went on with hardly any attention, without the necessary foreign intervention to bring the madness to a halt.
A decade later and the violence has subsided. But still there is a massive 86% unemployment. Outside of downtown Monrovia, there are few paved roads, the only actual highway connecting Monrovia Airport with Mamba Point Hotel, known as UN Drive. An online reviewer described Mamba Point Hotel as "the only real hotel in Liberia."
Yet it is not all bad. Lead by Harvard-educated economist, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia's economy is in the midst of a revival. Firestone, a rubber manufacturer is now contributing to Liberia, not just exploiting it. Monrovia port has a large number of container ships registered to it, a sign that there is some international trade going on. The main problem Liberia faces in the immediate future is its budget. It has a budget of just $100m. The UN budget in Liberia vastly eclipses that, at $800m. Whilst conditions are improving, even a wonderwoman like Johnson-Sirleaf can only do so much with that kind of funding. But like I said, it isn't all bad - Mittal Steel bought a huge stake of the country's ore reserves at a price of $1bn, a deal that will vastly improve the country's economic state

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