Sunday, January 2, 2011

Background Information on U.S.- Liberia Relations

I.                    Background of U.S. Liberian Relations
Liberia and the United States have a long and aid-dependent relationship. Liberia has gone through perpetual cycles of bankruptcy and instability stemming from their financial dependence on the international community, the oppressive reign of Charles Taylor, two civil wars, ethnic warfare and bloody coupes. During the first civil war many Liberian refugees fled to the United States. Since then renewed conflict has created a prolonged refugee situation in which refugees are living under emergency conditions for prolonged periods of time as stateless persons. The idleness that these conditions promote, both in urban centers and refugee camps, lend themselves to economic hardship, crime, drug use, depression and resentment.
Park Hill Staten Island, home to the largest Liberian population outside West Africa, still sees many resettled Liberian Refugees living on the periphery of US society, waiting idly for a cue from the international community as to their status. This has created a breeding ground for crime, drug use and economic instability for families and community members in Park Hill. The poverty rate is the highest in the borough at 21% and the Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings have active chapters in surrounding areas[1]. The community as a whole struggles with health and nutritional issues. Most residents lack health care and do not regularly see doctors which has resulted in the 25% higher mortality rate in Park Hill as compared with the greater New York area[2].  Peace for this population lies not only in the absence of conflict but in the security of good health and a sense of self worth.

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