Nearly 300,000 refugees and internally displaced persons have returned to their homes in 2005 after the end of a brutal 14-year civil war.
Peaceful national elections have been held, but the re-establishment of state authority and law and order has only just begun.
The state of social services country-wide is still far below pre-war levels. More than one third of the population, and an even higher proportion of the country’s children, lives on less than $1 a day.
Issues facing children in Liberia
- Liberia’s infant and under-5 mortality rates remain among the five highest in the world. More than 15 per cent of children die before reaching their first birthday.
- Preventable diseases like malaria and measles are among the leading killers of children. Malnutrition and respiratory infections kill thousands of children each year.
- Nearly 40 per cent of children under age five suffer from stunting as a result of malnutrition.
- Nearly 40 per cent of the population does not have access to safe water, and nearly 75 per cent does not have access to adequate sanitation.
- Statistics show an HIV/AIDS prevalence rate of 5.9 per cent; the actual rate is believed to be higher.
- Armed conflict, HIV/AIDS and other diseases have orphaned an estimated 230,000 children.
- Half a million children do not attend school. Two thirds of students are being taught by unqualified teachers. Girls’ enrolment rates lag far behind those for boys.
- Despite the cessation of fighting, armed forces along the borders with Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire continue to recruit children into their ranks.
Activities and results for children
- UNICEF and its partners continue to provide basic and emergency health care to thousands of people living in camps for internally displaced populations.
- Approximately 1 million children were vaccinated against polio and received vitamin A supplements. A total of 185 health facilities now perform routine immunizations. UNICEF also helped to rehabilitate the national cold-chain system.
- UNICEF and its partners reactivated 27 health clinics and launched a measles vaccination program for all children under age five in three counties.
- The World Food Programme partnered with UNICEF to treat more than 100,000 malnourished women and children in IDP camps.
- Clean water and improved sanitation facilities benefited more than 200,000 students in over 1,000 schools.
- UNICEF and its partners provided educational kits for more than 1,000 schools and supplies for nearly 350,000 children. Nearly 1,000 teachers (including 600 women) completed their primary school teacher training.
- The National Assembly adopted a comprehensive girls’ education policy.
- Nearly 12,000 children have been demobilized from fighting forces.
- UNICEF and its partners have helped to train more than 1,500 new Liberian National Police officers in child rights and child protection.