31 December 2013 |

Liberia: Internal displacement in brief

As of December 2013


Liberia’s civil war forced some 500,000 people to flee their homes between 1989 and 2003. Many fled to the capital Monrovia, where they sought refuge in makeshift settlements on public land, in camps or with host families. Most of those able to return had done so by 2011, and the government considers the country’s displacement situation resolved. With no tracking system in place, however, it is unclear how many are still to achieve a durable solution.

IDPs living in settlements on public land have become increasingly vulnerable to forced eviction under the government’s infrastructure development and crime reduction strategy. Thousands of homes have been destroyed over the years, and at least 10,000 people were displaced with no compensation in 2013 alone. Many of those left homeless were believed to be IDPs forced into secondary displacement.

Many returning IDPs have faced challenges in terms of tenure security as result of lost, destroyed or forged deeds. New legislation introduced in May sought to improve legal mechanisms in rural areas, but failed to address the issues of those living on urban public land with no ownership rights. Land concessions by local authorities to private investors have also undermined communities’ property rights and their access to livelihoods, raising fears of forced displacement despite an executive order placing a moratorium on public land sale and transactions.

IDPs did not participate in the development of the country’s peacebuilding roadmap or its Vision 2030 strategy, and it is still unclear whether they will be invited to take part in a constitutional review. Liberia is yet to ratify the Kampala Convention, but it demonstrated renewed commitment to doing so with the formation of a task force to domesticate its provisions.