See also:
» 02.07.2010 - Naomi Campbell must testify in Taylor case
» 04.06.2010 - Trafficked Bangladeshis return home from Liberia
» 07.10.2009 - Young Liberians to audition for top music award
» 07.09.2009 - New UN trained special police graduate in Liberia
» 04.05.2009 - Taylor's acquittal plea thrown out
» 25.04.2008 - Striking "Liberian refugees" await repatriation
» 31.03.2005 - Côte d'Ivoire recruiting Liberian ex-child soldiers
» 24.08.2004 - Liberia's war-traumatised children to get help

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Human rights | Society

Clearing Liberia of Marijuana an uphill battle

afrol News, 20 October - Liberian local authorities have welcomed latest efforts to rid west African country of surge in Marijuana trade.

Local village, H. Mulbah Mbetor, chief of the Koshenquelleh region, was quoted today saying, despite economic toll stamping out marijuana trade will take on local communities, he supports Liberian police officers’ efforts, having seen destruction drug causes on youth first-hand.

“When young people smoke they don’t have a good understand – they think they can make more money by growing marijuana than by going to school or learning a trade,” he said. “But with the LNP coming and burning the crops, the young people are starting to think they might be better off doing something legal,” chief Mbetor was quoted by UN Police reports.

UN has been assisting Liberian National Police tackle drug trade in remote areas of the West African nation, with latest joint raid bringing total amount of marijuana seized to almost 1,000 kilograms.

Report said UNPOL and a Bangladeshi battalion and a Nigerian formed police unit (FPU) serving with UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) took part in LNP-coordinated surprise operation, one of several recent efforts seeking to identify and destroy marijuana plantations.

The stop and search operation, which took place in Bong County, occurred when officers pulled over a car and found four large sacks of cassava, which they sliced open to reveal tightly packed bags containing over 50 kilograms of dried marijuana. Report further said raid was a result of surveillance and intelligence-gathering that began in May this year.

“A major aim of these operations is to build capacity of the LNP,” UNMIL Police Commissioner Henrik Stiernblad also explained, further adding that UN has organised previous seizures, but Liberian police are starting to take reins and command the raids.

According to UN reports, during 14-year Liberian civil war that killed almost 150,000 people, mostly civilians, warlords gave away marijuana freely to their young soldiers, including children, to alleviate stress and in a bid to create dependency.

Left in shambles by the conflict, economy offers few employment opportunities in the formal sector, with many youth still addicted to the drug five years after the end of the war, report added.

Liberian police have however acknowledge that eradicating plantations is an uphill battle, given many communities’ reliance on marijuana for their income. Nearly 450,000 plants have been destroyed to date, report said.

“Marijuana makes people happy,” said LNP anti-narcotics officer. “To combat the problem, we need to find other ways to make them happy – we need to train people and help them find a job,” UNPOL quoted Mr Flomo J. Tomkollie.

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