12 July 2017

Liberia: The Dangers Children Could Face This Coming Election

Conflicts are not always violent or on indifference. The greed of wanting more, even if it means sacrificing a living being, like a child, is one of the most deadly 'silent' conflicts Liberia has faced for ages. Liberians have heard stories of children being kidnapped, parts extracted from their tiny bodies by human organ traffickers or alleged political leaders looking for more power. This conflict is poverty, supremacy, bad governance and corruption and because of this dilemma, every election period, children become frightened for their lives; family members whose children are snatched and murdered are traumatized for years, communities stunned and this always causes a large dip in security development.

Liberians have heard stories of children being kidnapped, parts extracted from their tiny bodies by human organ traffickers or alleged political leaders looking for more power. This conflict is poverty, supremacy, bad governance and corruption and because of this silent crisis , every election period, children become frightened for their lives.

Liberians have heard stories of children being kidnapped, parts extracted from their tiny bodies by human organ traffickers or alleged political leaders looking for more power. This conflict is poverty, supremacy, bad governance and corruption and because of this dilemma, every election period, children become frightened for their lives; family members whose children are snatched and murdered are traumatized for years, communities stunned and this situation always causes a considerable decrease in confidence in the security system's reliability to protect citizens.

"Right now things have changed. Our children cannot go home from school unless a parent comes to pick them up. A child here and there goes missing every week. If you check at every police station and look on the bulletin, there you will see notices of at least one or two children missing. This time of year is always scary for the children who are warned not to trust anyone," stated Pastor Glasgow, during his recent Sunday sermon.

A United Nations Violence against Children study recommends the establishment of a safe, well publicized, confidential and accessible mechanism for children, their representatives and others to report violence against children. Mechanisms like a toll-free helpline through which children can report abuses and speak to trained counselors in confidence and ask for support and advice, especially in situations where children are abducted and can manage to get to a phone and call for help.

A couple of years ago, the Ministry of Gender and Social Services teamed up with LTA Post and Telecommunications and decided to come up with a policy document that the President of Liberia signed on Nov 23, 2016. This policy called for the establishment of 116 helplines that were set up in line with the general comment number 12 on the rights of children to be heard.

Comment number 12 said countries should establish (for the benefit of children) easy access to individuals or organizations to which they can report in confidence and safety, including through telephone helplines.

"We have started testing the hotline only in Montserrado, but the difficulty is there has not been enough awareness. People started playing on the lines. We need to do more awareness on how to use the lines and the purpose for which the lines were set up because people are playing on the lines, insulting and sexually harassing our operators. "Some calls have been real, some we have given referrals to, and we mediate, especially if a child calls and says they have been kicked out of the house. If it is sexual harassment, we tell them what to do until someone can come and we notify the police and we tell them where to go for medical help," said Mrs. Deddeh Kwekwe, Director of Gender Based Violence Division.

Madam Kwekwe also emphasized that children will need such a line for protection against anyone who tries to take them away from their families.

Meanwhile, a boy who was found standing under the rain recently had only a t-shirt on and was hungry and cold. After a warm meal, a change into some warm clothes, he revealed to our reporter that his father had kicked him out of the house two weeks ago for 'eating the sugar money' that the father had asked him to purchase sugar with. "He gave me L$75 and it fell from me," stated the worried child. According to him, both of his parents are very ill, both with abnormal growths on their feet and legs. His mother has already been taken to the sick bush after she was not responding to country medicine. His father is unable to do anything without dragging his now rotten leg.

The child called 116 for help after this newspaper ran a story about his condition. The latest report said he is still on the streets.

"Probably this election time, these children might really need this line, but yet people are abusing it and making the operators afraid to answer the call," stated Mrs. Kwekwe.

Liberia

U.S. Lawmakers Call for American Intervention in Electoral Standoff

Peace and stability is at stake; not only in Liberia, but in the West African region as well, some members of the U.S.… Read more »

Copyright © 2017 Liberian Observer. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 140 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.