Liberia: Current Issues and United States Policy [Updated February 6, 2001]   [open pdf - 154KB]

From the Document: "Liberia, a small West African country, was established in 1847 by freed American slaves. In December 1989, Liberia plunged into civil war. Factional conflict raged for 7 years, despite a dozen peace agreements, the deployment of U.N. observers, and a regional intervention force of the Economic Community of West African States. The conflict caused over 150,000 deaths, and displaced much of the population. The warring factions committed numerous atrocities and forcibly enlisted thousands of children as fighters. Throughout the conflict,Congress and successive administrations sought to ensure adequate assistance for the Liberian people, thus maintaining a long-standing relationship with Liberia. The United States had been Liberia's leading pre-war trading partner and a major aid donor. In July 2000, in a resolution banning trade in 'conflict diamonds' from Sierra Leone, the U.N. Security Council singled out the actions of the Liberian government in promoting this trade, thus fueling the conflict in Sierra Leone. On October 10, 2000, President Clinton barred Mr. Taylor and members of his government from entering the United States. In December 2000, a U.N. Panel of Experts submitted a report implicating the Liberian government, among others, in participating in United Nations (U.N.)-embargoed arms and diamonds trade with Sierra Leonean rebels. It also recommended measures to prevent such activities. Liberia strongly rejected the report and its recommendations. In late January2001, the United States introduced a U.N. Security Council resolution, targeted at Liberia, based on the report's findings. Two 1999 armed incursions by anti-Taylor forces into Liberia's Lofa County near Guinea were defeated. A third began in July 2000. Fighting in that incident lasted until late October 2000. The Liberian government blamed the attacks on rebels aided by, and entering from, Guinea. It, in turn, has attributed to Liberia rapidly increasing armed conflict in southern Guinea; it began in September 2000 and has continued. Guinea asserts that the conflict has resulted in at least 900 deaths and massive civilian displacements."

Report Number:
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB96025
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