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The Liberian Civil War and Why it Still Matters

Between 1989 and 2003, a brutal civil war raged across Liberia, with fighting eventually trickling into surrounding countries as well. A military coup in 1980 led to increasing ethnic tensions in Liberia, a multi-ethnic country. In 1989, the National Patriotic Front of Liberia began an uprising against the government. Chaotic and "stop-go" fighting followed for many years, until international peacekeepers diffused the situation in 2003. Ethnic conflicts such as these are hardly atypical in developing regions where imperial borders were drawn with little regard for existing native politics. Liberia, once America's only African colony, is no exception.

The war killed at least 150,000 Liberians and created over 200,000 refugees. The Liberian economy was destroyed and still faces an extremely low growth rate to this day. An estimated 15,000 children fought in the Liberian civil war, further highlighting the deeply disturbing reality of the war for the country's younger generations. Foreign investors were driven out by the war and have been reluctant to reenter the country ever since. Liberia ultimately has been unable to recover from the war in an effective way, and still requires expansive foreign contributions to ensure Liberians (especially in rural communities) a prosperous future.

One of the war's most devastating impacts has been the effect on Liberia's education system, with almost 60 percent of all school buildings being damaged or destroyed. Liberia has one of the poorest education systems in the world, with an estimated 15-20 percent of 6-14-year-olds out of school. Only 54% of Liberian children complete their primary education. This is the problem that Ngozi has recognized as Liberia's greatest weakness, and is why Ngozi will continue its efforts to construct new school buildings and increase student access to such facilities.


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