Liberia: October 23, 2004


The country is at peace, sort of, but the war isn't over. UN peacekeepers have only taken control of four of  the 15 counties. Only 25,000 weapons have been seized. Some 83,000 fighters have turned themselves in, producing some kind of weapon, or ammunition, to do so. But only 30,000 of those have the received the promised $300 payment, and fewer are receiving the job training. Not that there are many jobs to be had. It's estimated that only about 15 percent of the population has a job. Farmers still fear planting any crops, even if they had the seed and tools. For too many years, armed men would show up at harvest time and steal the crop. 

The 14,000 peacekeepers are the only law in the country, and there are still some 50,000 armed men out there, among the three million Liberians. There isn't much shooting because there isn't much ammo left, or anything to steal. The country is flat on its back. No one in neighboring countries is interested in spending any money to support armed gangs. The illegal diamond trade in neighboring Sierra Leone has been largely shut down, and the UN is trying to get the economy going again. But in an endless pattern, a revived economy without a working government, will just produce more bandits and warlords to destroy it. Forming a government that can actually rule, and defend itself, and the Liberian people, has yet to be done. 


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