Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SOCIETY

Armed Robbers Terrorize Frog Island Community

By Bill E. Diggs

The Frog Island Community in Paynesville suffers series of alleged armed robbery during the early morning hours of Tuesday, May 26, 2009, in which at least five persons were injured.
According to residents of the community, the alleged robbers attacked three homes at about 2:00 a.m., Tuesday morning and also made away with money and other valuables.
Agnes Vojolo, one of the injured victims, told the Daily Observer about her horrible encounter with Paynesville communities’ greatest nightmare.

“It was about 2:00 a.m. this morning, when I heard a car sound,” she narrated. “Then I heard a sound that was as if gun, but I was not sure where it was coming from. Few minutes later, our door burst open and about five men armed with cutlasses and firearms rush into the house asking for money and cell phones. They could be more; I had no chance to count them.”

She added that the alleged robbers enter and ransacked her room then snatch her nursing baby away threatening to kill him if she did not relinquish the money she had.
“I appealed with them that the only money I had was L$560. I told them to take it and give me back my baby, but they refused and slapped me in the face as they threw my baby far on the bed,” she said with agony.

Mrs. vojolo displayed her back which was inhumanely covered with prints of machete. She further narrated that her husband, Henry Vojolo, was hacked on the head when he tried to defend his family.

According to Mrs. Vojolo, the robbers left their home after they have accumulated her husband wallet and his cell phone [Nokia 1200]. She said all the while the robbers were at their home, they were masked and communicating over radio.
Not more then 250 feet away from Mrs. Vojolo’s Home, Caroline, a woman in the house where two men identify as Mr. Jallah and Emmanuel was injured also on the head, explained the cruel scene she witness.

“We were not totally asleep when the robbers came. Mr. Jallah though it was ordinary thieves, so he made noise to frighten them away. The robbers then broke into the house and demanded we give them all our values and money. Before Emmanuel could say any thing they hit his head with cutlass and did also to Mr. Jallah after they took one camera phone [model unknown] and one Nokia, and money that I did not know the total,” she stated.

A little distance away from Caroline’s home, one Koba Johnson, another victim, told this reporter the pitiful story of her 60 years mother who head was bashed with a stick.

She elaborated that robbers broke into their home and started to search the house asking them for money and valuables. She added that her mother raised alarm and the robbers hit her head to shout her up.

“I advice my mother to give them the money she had to avoid their reactions if we insist. It was about L$35,000 for our building project,” she said.
When asked whether the police when to the area, she said the police arrived on the scene after the robbers have left.

Speaking to other residents, one Julia Freeman acknowledged that this is not the first time for robbery to occur in their community. She said that they are living only by the grace of God because they are vulnerable to armed robbers.
Another resident, Paul Jones, expressed his fear that incidence such as these would continue if drastic action is no put in to place.

When contacted as to whether any arrest was made, the Liberian National Police (LNP) Chief of Press and Public Affairs, George Bardue, said that the police have been responding to many robbery incidence in Paynesville as well as other communities.

He averred that the police often face difficulties to arrest alleged robbers on the scene of the robbery because the robbers often escape before they get there.

However, he added that the police usually conduct vigorous search for the alleged robbers and sometimes make arrest.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Development

ULRWI to Engage in Chilies Export

By Bill E. Diggs

The United Liberia Rural Women Incorporated (ULRWI) on Monday, May 25, 2009, conducted a fund raising program for the initiation of an agricultural project which cost approximately US$100,000 in other to help promote national growth, rural economic empowerment and development and poverty reduction potentials.
Ms. Stephenett C. Weah, chief of section, Ministry of Gender and Development, during the reading of the overview, said that though the Non-Traditional Export sector of the Liberian economy has great impact on national growth, development and poverty reduction potentials, it remains gravely under develop and its activities are uncoordinated in terms of having a sustainable production base.
She further said that the ULRWI have been able to identify an unlimited market for chilies pepper in the UK (Britain) through the Export Promoters (Liberia) incorporated (EPI).
“Export to this market,” she said, “could provide a sustainable source of income and job opportunities for members of the ULRWI.”
The URWLI requested from the EPI to engage in the production of Bird eye chilies pepper under an Export Production Village (EPV) scheme. The scheme ensures a well organized and coordinated export production.
She averred that the project is focus on developing a sustainable and vibrant supply base to meet exports demand in medium term.
She added that the project will contribute to rural economic empowerment and development, poverty reduction, an increase in export earnings and building the productive capacities of the farmers to partake in international trade of goods and services.
In her remarks at the program, Madame Korpo Howard, president of ULRWI, stressed that though rural women are the most effected group in post conflict Liberia, they are capable of bringing Liberia to its top.
Madame Howard called on all Liberian as well as those are in sympathy with Liberia to come to the rescue of the ULRWI. She further urged that men should not sit back and view this in initiative as a women’s thing but to get involve ant help support the project.
In an interview with the multimedia which attended the program, Madame Howard said that the project will begin as soon as possible.
“We already have people clearing 30 acres of land in Margibi for us to start planting on. We will soon build the stand on which we will sun dry the Bird eye chilies pepper,” she acknowledged.
Madame Howard expressed her ambition to begin building schools throughout the fifteen counties to enable members of the ULRWI as well as their children to get in school.
The program was successful in rising at least L$ 755 and US$ 247 in cash, L$40,000 and US$100 in pledges and rain boots for the farmers. The total fund raised at the program was but only a minute part of the proposed US$100,000 needed fund.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

DEVELOPMENT

ActionAid Provides Logistics for FLY Secretariats
Grand Gedeh, Gbarpolu, River Gee Counties Benefit

The international NGO, ActionAid-Liberia, has provided logistics for secretariats of the Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY). The secretariats, which are FLY’s sub-offices in the counties, coordinate all youth activities and furnish the Federation’s head office on Camp Johnson Road, with pieces of information.

The INGO’s intervention, which had been earlier provisions for the establishment of secretariats in the same counties, also included the provision of three motorbikes, three printers, three generators and assorted stationery and other office supplies.

Presenting the items to the coordinators of Grand Gedeh and Gbarpolu Counties’ secretariats, Federation president Joseph Jimmy Sankaituah said that ActionAid-Liberia had stood with them in every thing that his institution had endeavored doing.

He gave each of the coordinators, Ms. Jacquelyn Caryahway (Grand Gedeh) and James M. Daniels (Gbarpolu) US$200 as a startup for their secretariats until the beginning of next month, at which time he said the Federation head office will provide ‘additional financial support.’

Sankaituah disclosed that the INGO’s entire support to his institution sums up to US$21,620; adding: “They have always expressed their willingness to partner with us and for this we want to commend them and other partners, including the United Nations Development Program (UNP), Search for Common Ground/Talking Drum Studio (SCG/TDS) and the Christian Children Fund (CCF).”

Ms. Caryahway, for her part, is the only female coordinator along with her male counterparts.

Speaking with the Daily Observer, Coordinators Caryahway and Daniels in separate statements thanked ActionAid and other partners for their support in helping them to coordinate the affairs of young people in their respective localities.

Ms. Caryahway specifically said that she enjoys working with her male colleagues and urged other females to get involve into activities that promote young people’s agenda.

ADB DONATES TO LIBERIA

ADB Earmarks Liberia US$ 45 Million
By Bill E. Diggs

The Africa Development Bank (ADB) has given the Liberian Government approximately US$ 45 million out of which about US$ 18 million is directed toward budgetary support of this calendar year.
The fund was given at the annual meetings focused on the financial crisis and Africa’s response, held in Dakar during the second week of May, where Augustine Ngafuan, Minister of Finance, and Amara Konneh, minister of Planning and Economic Affairs represented the Liberian Government.
A number of additional events occurred during the week, debt reduction and rescheduling with the European Investment Bank (EIB), which canceled over 8 million euro of long-standing debt was inclusive.
Speaking for the Liberian delegation at the meeting, Minister Ngafuan thanked the ADB for their assistance and further stressed that given Liberia’s borrowing constraints, there are few alternatives to a downturn in revenue other than streamlining spending and focusing on expenditure efficiency.
An Agriculture Rehabilitation support project grant with the ADB value approximately US$ 9 million was signed by the Liberian Government delegates as part of a project whose total value is approximately US$ 27 million, including co-financing by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
According to the grant the six years project will focus on agricultural infrastructure rehabilitation, agricultural production and productivity improvement, and project management.
the project is basically focus on the south-eastern region including Grand Kru, Grand Gedeh, River Gee and Maryland counties with specific activities including rehabilitation of water management infrastructure for 1,620 hectares, rehabilitating 100km of feeder roads, increasing crop productivity through integrated plan and pest management, provision of farm implement in the mention counties; and a long-term technical assistance for the ministry of agricultural.
In addition to its direct value to agricultural producers, particularly those in the southeast, this project will also build the capacity of the ministry of agricultural to carry forward work in this critical sector.
The ADB approved this week a US$ 1 million grant in response to the resent caterpillar worm infestation; this response, implemented by Africare, will focus on crop protection, improving water supply and sanitation, and communication and sensitization workshop in affected area.
The Government of Liberia held conversations with ADB staff responsible for Liberia, including Donald Kaberruka, president of the African Development Bank. Matter discussed in the conversation included Liberia’s rapid reform and progress toward the completion point of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, GoL’s strong desire for the ADB to open office in Liberia, and future mechanisms via which the ADB may be able to support Liberia’s reconstruction, reform, and development.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Journalist

PRS Reporting Manual Launched

By Bill E. Diggs

The Liberian Media Center (LMC) with support from Trust Africa and Humanity United, on Friday, May 15, 2009 at the Monrovia city hall, launched the reporting Manual and the “Maiden Report on Assessing Coverage of the PRS and Information Flow” to serve as a guide to journalists reporting the Liberian Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS).
This reporting manual was launched under a LMC one-year project title “Strengthened Media for Poverty Reduction and Democratic Governance” which is aimed at conducting media training on reporting corruption, the budget and the Poverty Reduction Strategy process.
According to the Executive Director of the Liberia Media Center (LMC), Lawrence Randall, when he presented a graphical statistics of various print and electronic media coverage in the first year of the PRS term, space and time are varied among the various media entities.
He added that some media had more time covering the PRS process but not enough space and others had more space but not enough time.
He further pointed out some of weaknesses of the Media, at community level, to report on the PRS as not having access to copies of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and the Community Development Analysis (CDA).
He asserted that the reporting manual will serve as a reference guide for reporters and editors covering poverty related issues, and as a basis for comprehensively monitoring media reports on the PRS process.
In his final words, Randall said that until laws are made available to give the media access to relevant information of the PRS process, he still foresees adequate reports on the PRS.
In her keynote address at the launching ceremony, the British political counselor in Liberia, Madam Gillian Dare, emphasized the responsibilities of the media in relation to covering and dispensing information of developments as well as conflict.
She asserted that Liberia has suffered conflict, tremor and mismanagement for at least three decides which has left Liberia as a fragile nation.
She lamented that development is for everyone and must not and could not be left to the government alone, that media and religion alike have part to play in promoting development and peace.
“The media and religion collaborate to preach about changes in people lives and altitude,” she averred.
She urged media institutions not to undermine the government, but to open the government to public scrutiny.
“The media must be careful in reporting conflict not to aggravate the news. Get your evidence right before reporting your stories.
“There is a duty for people [journalists] who speak out for people to reached out to the people they speak for to understand and tell the story of the people,” the British counselor urged.
The Minister of Information, Rev. Dr. Laurence Bropleh, in his statement before the official launching of the journalist’s guide, said that the government of Liberia accepts constructive criticism.
He added that journalist must seize the opportunity to ask officials question of development and quit mixing politics with development.
He cited an incident when president Sirleaf returned from her medical trip, on which she maneuver to get a waver of some of Liberia’s huge debt and a journalist had a chance to asked a question.
The only question this journalist had in mind was ‘what do you intend to do about the travel ban on the oppositions,’ that was wrong the Rev. Dr. Bropleh said.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

YOUTH

Liberia, Sierra Leone YMCA Launches Supportive Youth Project

By Bill E. Diggs

The Liberian and Sierra Leonean Young Men Christian Association (YMCA) in collaboration with the Y Care international YMCA with funding from the European Commission (EC) on Friday, May 8, 2009 formerly launched a four years supportive youth project.
The project title ‘Supporting Youth Livelihood & Governance (SYLG) in Liberia & Sierra Leone’ is aim at helping young people overcome the trauma of the conflict and build peace as well as integrate themselves in their society.
At the program marking the launching of the project held at the Eugene H. Copper Memorial Conference Hall YMCA Building Broad Street, Monrovia, Liberia; E. Timotheus Kamaboakai Project manager, SYLG YMCA of Liberia, disclosed that the specific objective of the project is to improve socio-economic status of up to 4,000 disadvantaged young people in Liberia (Monrovia, Ganta, Gbarnga, Zorzor, Kakata) and Sierra Leone (Freetown, Bo, Kenema, Makeni) through vocational training and participation in local decision making by the end project’s term.
However, the overall objective of the project is to reduce the levels of poverty and social exclusion amongst vulnerable young people; and to improve governance around the issue of employment creation and vocational training and strengthening the capacity of civil society to respond to the needs of vulnerable young people.
These targeted vulnerable youth are young unemployed people (age 15-35), including particular groups living with HIV/AIDS and physically challenge youth that will be positively affected by the project at the project purpose level.
Also speaking at launching program Moses Johnson, project manager of EC, Y Care, and SYLG YMCA Sierra Leone, highlighted several social problems sierra Leonean youth are faced with.
He listed prostitution, drugs abuse, and unemployment among others found amongst youth in Sierra Leone, which the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Sam Harr, acknowledged as similar to that of Liberia.
Mr. Harr further congratulated the Y Care international for taking on such supportive project with the Liberian/sierra Leone YMCA which is an opportunity of solidifying the countries already existing relationship.
“To tackle all other social problems among youth” he added, “the employment and empowerment of youth is significant.” he also pledged the government support for the project since it will help reintegrate many young people who feel ostracized and isolated from society.
The Y Care international representative, Karr Harawa, at the program said that her organization was please to work along side the Liberian and Sierra Leonean YMCAs to help young people in the regions.
Meanwhile, formal National General Secretary of YMCA, Peter Carney, in his remarks called on religious leaders to lend their assistance to the project by encouraging young people to get involved.

Monday, May 11, 2009

HUMAN RIGHTS

LNP Officers Gamble Passengers’ Lives
By Bill E. Diggs
Three officers of the Liberian National Police (LNP) on Tuesday, May 05, 2009 hazardously arrested several motorcycles at J.J.Y, Somalia Drive, during the morning hours causing injury to at least one rider.
The officers (Sgt. Abraham V.K Kennedy, Inst. Harry Quei Williams the last identified as Henry) claimed that their action was a respond to an order issued form the “appropriate authority” that no commercial motorcycles should ply the main streets, rather they should go into communities to run and private riders should be properly dressed and ride alone.
The exercise was carried out with out any blockade to regulate the busy morning traffic which panicked many onlookers and passengers alike as one of the officers demonstrates his odd method of arrest.
The officer, identified as Inst. Harry Quei Williams, chief of Garage inspection, traffic section, often jumped riskily onto the road in front a speeding bike raising his metallic baton high above his head in an effort to stop the bike. If the bike was not stopping, whether it was carrying a passenger or not, he aimed his baton and threw it at the bike in order to obstruct the speeding bike’s wheel.
He further engaged a bike carrying passenger that tried to get pass him and caused it to topple injuring its rider on the lower left arm and making the passenger to almost lose breath.
Speaking with one rider, Fredrick Jomah, he said, he did not know whether the police was conducting such exercise because he had never heard it on air. He claimed that they were being treated unfairly in the traffic.
“We paid taxes to the Government, but the police are harassing us everyday in the traffic,” he stated.
Among the many arrested victims, Momo T. Johnson, worker at the Local Enterprise Assistance Program (LEAP), told the Daily Observer that he was pull over for carrying his workmate at his back; even though both of them was properly attire with helmets.
Speaking with the Deputy Commander for operation of Gardnerville and its depots, Sgt. Abraham V.K Kennedy, at the scene, he acknowledged that they were making sure that motorcyclists were abiding to traffic rules, no commercial motorcycle was plying the main streets and to ease the notion that “Gardnerville Police were not working”.
Meanwhile, a transport bus, license plate TB – 1862, was pulled over and made to refund L$10, half the transport fare from red-light to waterside, in less than 100 meter of the zone four police depot for allegedly hiking transport fare.
However, the driver, only identify as Chea, claimed that he was being lied on by the passengers and did not over charge any passenger.
“According to the government price” Mr. Chea said, “one mile beyond L$10 distance, you are to pay L$15. It is always the case with pick-and-drop; the drivers are not the ones who made the policy”.
He further said that it was only a lady who was pick up at Barnersville and drop off in the police vicinity had problem paying L$15. “All other passenger conspire (support) with this lady to get me in trouble”.
The passengers on board the bus said the driver was charging absorbingly and choose to struggle for another car rather than to ride with Mr. Chea.

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