10 August 2017

Liberia: United Community Initiative Score Success in Butaw Concession Area

Monrovia — The Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP) in Sinoe County has scored a major success in the Butaw Project Affected Community in the County.

The United Communities Incorporated (UCI) has been able to resolve a major conflict among members of the Abloteh Committee and the Butaw Welfare Development Association (BWEDA) that has been brewing since 2012.

The Abloteh Committee was established to mediate between the project affected community of Butaw and the Concession Company operating in Sinoe County- Golden Veroleum of Liberia (GVL) on concession-related issues.

The mandate of the Abloteh group was however interrupted as a result of series of uprisings by citizens of project affected communities against the Golden Veroleum Liberia Concession.

This led to the arrests and detention of some members of the Abloteh mediation committee while others fled into the bushes, thus bringing into the picture the Butaw Welfare Development Association (BWEDA) to help lead mediation efforts in the community.

The two groups have been at loggerheads on who is the legitimate mediation committee to work with GVL with the Company itself confused over which group to deal with.

Some residents of Butaw have been resistant to the return of members of the Abloteh committee as a mediation team.

As part of efforts to break the stalemate, the United Community Initiative (UCI) recently established under a UNDP and UNMIL supported Access Funding Project as a Multi-Stakeholder Platform and utilizing its conflict prevention and mitigation training organized by the UNDP-led project, commenced its mediation engagements with the two groups.

Following few weeks of consultations by UCI, both parties have now agreed to return to Status quo accepting the return of Abloteh as the legitimate mediation committee in Butaw.

Presenting a report at the UCI first monthly meeting held recently in Butaw, the group announced that peace between the two groups has been brokered and a resolution to the effect is expected to be signed by both parties soon, to seal the deal.

According to a member of UCI Sorbor Wisseh, the move was a major breakthrough in maintaining peace in Butaw District as members are now resolved to work together.

For his part, the Development Superintendent of Butaw Togba Bestman lauded the efforts of UCI and the affected groups to bring the conflict to an end.

"I feel proud of UCI and the parties concerned for amicably resolving this conflict that has existed in Butaw over the years. This is a clear indication that indeed we are ready to work for our district and County as a whole" Mr. Bestman intimated.

Mr. Bestman also praised development partners including UNDP and UNMIL for establishing and empowering the Multi-stakeholder Platform in Sinoe County.

A representative from Golden Veroleum Liberia who witnessed the affirmation by the parties concern expressed delight over the decision by Butaw citizens to resolve their conflict.

According to Dickson Patten, the peace deal has set the pace for the GVL to strengthen a cordial working relationship with the community.

The Project Manager under UNDP-led Extractive Project, Christiana Solomon also applauded the mitigation initiative of the UCI.

Miss Solomon emphasized that with this latest intervention, it was worth noting that activities being implemented under the Access Funding Project are gradually yielding results.

She encouraged UCI members to continue to use the skills acquired from the conflict prevention and management training to help resolve disputes especially those related to concession issues.

The Accessed Funding Project is being implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in collaboration with the United Nations Mission in Liberia in partnership with the National Bureau of Concession (NBC).

It is a peace building and community cohesion project in four land conflict-prone concession sites around Liberia to include Sinoe, Maryland, Grand Cape Mount and Nimba Counties.


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