At a glance: Liberia

Real lives

George Weah comes home

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© UNICEF/HQ04-0028/Nesbitt
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador George Weah waves to children gathered outside the Monrovia Demonstration Elementary School in Monrovia, the capital.
International football star and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador George Weah returned to his home country of Liberia last week to help focus international attention on the plight of Liberian children in the aftermath of 14 years of civil conflict.

During his stay, Mr.Weah visited UNICEF-assisted demonstration schools and interim care centres for children formerly associated with armed groups.

He met with internally displaced and other war-affected children, teachers, community members and government officials; recorded public service announcements; and participated in a children’s festival and other activities organized in his honour.

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© UNICEF/HQ04-0030/Nesbitt
A boy, William Varney, reads a message welcoming UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador George Weah at the Kingsville Public School in the town of Kingsville.
Liberia’s peace dividend

The Liberian peace agreement signed in August 2003, which included deploying United Nations peacekeeping forces in Monrovia and nearby areas, offers genuine possibilities for long-term stability and development.

During the early part of 2003, one-third of Liberia’s 3 million inhabitants had been displaced by conflict. Fighting had closed all schools and as many as 20,000 children had been recruited into warring factions as soldiers or labourers, with children and women subjected to rape and other sexual violence.

Today three quarters of all Liberians are illiterate and have no access to safe water or sanitation. Only one-fourth of Liberian children are fully immunized.

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/HQ04-0031/Nesbitt
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador George Weah (centre) plays in an exhibition football match between two children’s teams, at the Interim Care Centre of the Don Bosco Homes near Monrovia.

In addition to accelerated health, nutrition and water and sanitation projects, UNICEF is leading a $6 million ‘Back-to-School’ initiative that has already returned 350,000 of the 750,000 targeted children to basic learning.

UNICEF’s support includes rehabilitating buildings or providing temporary tent classrooms; providing thousands of ‘Schools-in-a-box’ – each of which contains basic teacher and student supplies for 80 children; and providing ‘emergency education’ and counselling training for teachers.


 

 

Video features

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador George Weah leads his fellow Liberians through the streets of the capital, Monrovia, to raise awareness about the plight of the country’s children after 15 years of civil war. Weah, an international football star, is a hero in his homeland.
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Weah arrives at UN Military HQ where he participates in a radio talk show addressing issues such as HIV/AIDS, disarmament of child soldiers and their reintegration into society, and getting them back in school.
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Weah teams up with his UNICEF colleagues to play an exhibition game against one of Liberia’s national teams. Enthusiastic onlookers pack the stadium, overflowing onto the walls surrounding it.
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