Formal Name: Republic of Liberia
Estimated Population: 3,288,198 (July 2002 estimate)
Since December 1989, Liberia has been a source of ongoing hostility and regional instability that has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Beginning as a war to oust President Samuel K. Doe, conflict in Liberia descended into a protracted war in which multiple factions vied for the presidency and for control of Liberia's lucrative iron, timber, diamond, and rubber resources. The devastating conclusion of seven years of violence and bloodshed was that an estimated 200,000 people were killed out of a pre-war population of 2.8 million, and more than half the country was forced to flee their homes. Of those displaced, approximately 1.2 million persons were displaced within Liberia and 700,000 refugees fled out of Liberia. The UNHCR estimated that 160,000 Liberian refugees were in Côte d'Ivoire, 235,000 in Guinea, 14,000 in Sierra Leone, and 17,000 in Ghana at the war's end in late 1996.
More than 80 per cent of all uprooted Liberians returned home when the civil war ended and former warlord Charles Taylor was democratically elected into office in 1997. However, Taylor's presidency has not led to a return of peace and security in Liberia. Since 1999, conflict, primarily in northern Liberia, has continued between Taylor's government and rebel forces of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), leading to further displacement. Additionally, Taylor has been implicated in the spread of conflict to Sierra Leone, causing refugee flows into Liberia; and Guinea has accused Liberian rebels of operating within her borders. An estimated 80,000 Liberians were newly internally displaced at the end of 2001 ( USCR). As of February 2003, another 6,000 Liberians had fled to Sierra Leone, 30,000 internally displaced people (IDPs) were seeking refuge near Monrovia, and about 88,000 Liberian returnees and Ivorian refugees had entered Liberia to escape conflict in Côte d'Ivoire ( UNHCR). The situation remains volatile, and increased displacement is likely if the regional instability continues.
- US Committee for Refugees, 2002 Country Report http://www.refugees.org/world/countryrpt/africa/liberia.htm
- UNHCR 2003, 'Thousands Flee Liberia's Conflict' http://www.unhcr.org/cgi-bin/texis/vtx/home/+dwwBme8TG1KwwwwnwwwwwwwhFqnN0bItFqnDni5AFqnN0bIcFqrcoxnGowDzmxwwwwwww/opendoc.htm