Trump Administration To Limit Visas To Several African Countries

New York, U.S. – April 16, 2019: The Trump Administration is reportedly planning a crackdown on several countries whose nationals overstay their visas in the United States.

US State Department
US State Department

The Wall Street Journal newspaper citing Administration officials say as part of a toughened immigration policy, the Trump Administration is moving to limit the number of visa offered to nationals from Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Chad and Eritrea. The Administration may also offer shorter visa stays.

The Wall Street Journal quotes an official White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley as saying the Trump Administration is considering prioritizing the plan “to reduce overstay rates for visas and the visa waiver program—and it’s well known that the administration is working to ensure faithful implementation of immigration welfare rules to protect American taxpayers.”

The countries are said to be “on notice” unless there is a change in number of their nationals who overstay their visas.

If implemented, the curb in issuance of visas to nationals to the African countries named means it will become harder to obtain such visas. Globally, countries are already seeing denial of visas from U.S. Consular offices for travel to the United States. A popular destination of nationals of the African countries named is the United States where large populations reside as permanent residents or have become U.S. citizens.

By Our Correspondent in New York

West African Journal Magazine

How Liberia Lost Out As A Host Country For US Africa Command HQ

Liberia squandered a valuable opportunity in 2007 to host the headquarters of the U. S. Department of Defense (DOD) Africa Command known as AFRICOM.

AFRICOM

AFRICOM which is based in Stuggart, Germany says it maintains partnerships with African nations to strengthen security forces, counter transnational threats and respond to crisis in an effort to advance the interests of the United States.

It is one of six Geographic Combatant Commands that the U. S. maintains globally.

According to AFRICOM, “Along with regional partners, U.S. Africa command conducts military operations to disrupt, degrade and neutralize violent extremist organizations that present a transnational threat.

Operations set conditions for continued partnering to help African partner nations build the capacity they need to secure the region.”

According to the document seen by West African Journal Magazine, Liberian Legislative Committees lawmakers – Representatives and Senators, who were briefed by US Embassy officials at the time on AFRICOM “…expressed overwhelming support for the initiative and reiterated President Sirleaf’s request that Liberia be chosen as the new site of the headquarters…”

At the time, AFRICOM was actively seeking a continental base in Africa and the West African country expressed interest in being a host country.

Liberia -Some Strategic Characteristics

Geographically, Liberia is accessible through its southern coast via the Atlantic Ocean. It has a relatively young civilian population whose capacity can be trained to function in support roles. Liberia and Liberians have and maintain a “positive view” of the United States due to a very long period of mutual co-existence and collaboration in diplomacy, government, education, culture and economic matters.

Map of Liberia, West Africa

Additionally, it is in the strategic interest of the US to ensure the maintenance of a stable Liberia and the subregion.

In their enthusiasm, Liberian lawmakers at the time asked the U. S. diplomatic mission near Monrovia to assist them to, “counter arguments against AFRICOM and two legislators who also hold seats in the ECOWAS and Pan-African Parliaments agreed to lobby their African counterparts on behalf of AFRICOM.”

The US Embassy in Monrovia further briefed and educated the relevant Liberian lawmakers on the history, structure and function of AFRICOM and provided assurances to dispel the misconception that AFRICOM would “take over USAID”.

Richard Saah Gbollie

According to the documents, former Margibi County Representative Richard Saah Gbollie told U.S. Embassy officials that the Liberian Senate would ultimately be the ones to approve any agreement to host the AFRICOM headquarters and requested that some lawmakers travel to the US for further discussions on the issue with U. S. Congressional Armed Services And Foreign Relations Committees in Washington DC.

But US Embassy officials who saw the request as an attempt to get a “free trip” to the US discouraged the idea.

Senator Prince Y. Johnson

Senator Prince Y. Johnson, who is a member of the National Security Committee in the Liberian Senate told U. S. Embassy officials at the meeting that ECOWAS Parliament members, at their recent meeting, were concerned that hosting an AFRICOM Headquarters would make Liberia a terrorists target. Senator Johnson said he countered to his colleagues at the ECOWAS Parliament that “…AFRICOM’s fundamental role is to bring stability to the continent and ultimately help Africa fight global threats itself. The security brought by AFRICOM would help foster development… (C) Senator Johnson said the Liberian Special Security Services had been advising President Sirleaf not to offer to host AFRICOM because of an increased terrorist threat, but that they were the only GOL agency that felt that way.

Johnson said he would be willing to introduce a bill in the Senate to support AFRICOM because of the stability it could bring to all of Africa. He and the other Senators present agreed that they would introduce a formal resolution echoing

President Sirleaf’s offer for Liberia to host AFRICOM when the legislature reopens in January.”

Another former Liberian lawmaker and Pan African Parliament member Representative Eugene F. Kparkar of Lofa County in the briefing disclosed thatat their last Pan-African meeting, a colleague from Botswana called AFRICOM “anti-African Union measure” and “U.S. neo-colonialism.”

Representative Kparkar reportedly said he rebutted the position of the Botswana Representative and instead advocated for hosting AFRICOM on the African continent but asked that the U.S. undertake advocacy with other African countries.

Representative Rufus Gbeoir, a lawmaker from the Administrative District of Grand Gedeh County, who was the Chairman of the House Committee on Defense at the time, suggested a visit to AFRICOM’s headquarter in Stuggart, Germany “…to personally vouch for what AFRICOM is and is not and would have a better understanding of its mission.”

Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

The confidential US document seen by West African Journal Magazine, and which is now in the public domain, revealed that although there was huge support, especially among lawmakers at the time, for hosting AFRICOM’s headquarters in Liberia at the time, they had to table the effort because of a tug-of-war between the Executive and Legislative branches of the Liberian government.

The U.S. Embassy, through its Ambassador in Monrovia at the time, sent a cable to the State Department in Washington DC and summarized that, “While we cannot get in the middle of this tug-of-war with the two branches, we need to recognize the complicated nature of the relationship of all these actors with checkered and sometimes violent pasts, and do our best to ensure that all parties feel part of the process. Whether or not an AFRICOM presence comes to Liberia, the legislators remain an excellent resource for us in the public relations effort on AFRICOM, both in Liberia and all over the African continent through the Pan-African Parliament and ECOWAS. They are eager and willing to help. It is in our interest to keep them involved.”

The U. S. Embassy cable which included a mention of Liberian lawmakers with violent past include former warlord turned Senator Prince Johnson of the former rebel Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia (INPFL), former lawmaker Richard Saah Gbollie, a military police commander of the Taylor led rebel National Patriotic Front (NPFL).

Capitol Building in Monrovia

It is unclear if the Government of Liberia made further serious overtures to the U. S. Administration afterwards, given the enormous benefits of hosting a strategic ally.

AFRICOM’s Headquarters did not make it to Liberia nor Africa and remains in Stuggart, Germany where it coordinates Education and Training, Threat Assessments, Pandemic Response, Deployment Assistance, Military Partnership and Foreign Military Sales, etc. for the 53 countries in Africa.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

New Liberian Diplomatic Envoy To U. S. Commissioned

Monrovia, Monday, December 31, 2018: Liberian President George Manneh Weah has commissioned Ambassador George S.W. Patten, Sr, Liberian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary designate to the United States of America.

New Liberian Ambassador To U. S. George S.W. Patten Sr.

Ambassador Patten Sr. replaces Cllr. Lois Brutus.

According to a Foreign Ministry release, the commissioning ceremony took place on Saturday, December 29, 2018.

President Weah encouraged Ambassador-designate Patten to represent Liberia’s best interest at his new assignment. President Weah also advised Ambassador Patten to be mindful of the special relationship subsisting between Liberia and the United States of America.

According to the release, Liberia’s Ambassador-designate to the United States, Ambassador George S.W. Patten Sr, promised to promote and push Liberia’s Foreign Policy to the highest level while performing his duties and responsibilities to the best of his ability. Ambassador Patten thanked President Weah for the opportunity and the confidence reposed in his ability to serve Liberia at that ambassadorial level.

Ambassador George S.W. Patten previously served as Liberia’s Ambassador to Ethiopia, and Chargé d’Affaires a.i., at Liberia’s Permanent Mission to the UN, the government release said.

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

ANC Leader Alex B. Cummings To Engage Liberians In The US In December

Silver Spring, Maryland November 9, 2018: The leader of the Alternative National Congress (ANC), a political party in Liberia, is launching a major effort to reach Liberians at home and in the diaspora about the future of the West African nation.

ANC Political Leader Alexander B. Cummings
ANC Political Leader Alexander B. Cummings

Mr. Alexander B. Cummings whose stature and favorability ratings have skyrocketed in national politics as a formidable alternative to the current leadership in Liberia, is celebrating “the establishment of the ANC as a viable and progressive political party” since his appearance on the political stage as leader of the ANC.

According to sources, Mr. Cummings is encouraged and responding to the huge enthusiasm  of party members and ordinary Liberians who are signaling their confidence in his leadership ability.

ANC - Liberia
ANC – Liberia

As part of outreach efforts, the ANC says a major retreat is scheduled to be held in Maryland, the United States in early December, at which time Mr. Cummings is expected to articulate his vision for the future of Liberia and Liberians. The  occasion billed as a “critical event” to engage Liberians from all political persuasions to dialogue and develop a roadmap for the attainment of a future of prosperity for the country, which is currently paralyzed by ineffective governance, will develop actionable strategies and plans to inform all Liberians in and out of the country about short, medium and long-term initiatives.

Mr. Cummings is focused on a new paradigm of broadening the political participation of all Liberians in governance and people-oriented public policies for the wellbeing of every citizen, irrespective of political leaning. A source close to the Cummings’ camp says, since March 2018, thousands of Liberians across the homeland, Europe and U.S. have contacted his office to express their desire to build local and international networks and relationships to tackle national issues facing the country and identify opportunities, strategies and financial resources  which are essential for sustaining his vision and programs to correct the current trajectory of the country.

There remains a sizeable number of Liberians at home and abroad who support Mr. Cummings.

ANC Leader Alexander B. Cummings Addressing Liberians During Campaign - File Photo
ANC Leader Alexander B. Cummings Addressing Liberians During Campaign – File Photo

The event featuring Mr. Cummings in December is the first of many citizenry engagements following  Presidential and General Elections in Liberia in November 2017. Plans are underway to have Mr. Cummings undertake social media engagements and personal visits with Liberians in and out of the country to promote a “Liberia First” agenda.

Meantime, in the lead up to the December event, reports say hundreds of ordinary Liberians from various parts of the U.S. have announced plans to travel to Maryland, USA for the engagement with the ANC leader.

Organizers say the special retreat will be held on December 7-8 in Silver Spring, Maryland, the United States and all Liberians are invited to attend.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia: Text Of Statement Delivered By Protesters Delivered To Int’l Community

PETITION STATEMENT

September 24, 2018

The Coalition of Citizens United to Bring Our Money Back (COCUBOMB), a mass-based umbrella pro-democracy and pro-advocacy organization consisting of over 26 civil society organizations, youth/student groups and trade unions, have peacefully rallied and assembled conscious and patriotic Liberians from every sphere of our society to petition you in pursuit of L$16 billion (US$106 million) that mysteriously disappeared under the government of President George M. Weah.

With oneness of purpose and an unhindered allegiance to Liberia and posterity, we have come on this day to send this clarion message to our International Partners through you:

1 We call on you and all international partners of Liberia to launch an immediate independent international forensic investigation into this missing L$16 billion saga which has both economic, social and security implications. The nation remains terrified by this mystery.

1 We call on you to withhold all direct support (in terms of financial and non-financial aid) to our government until it can fully account and restitute this stolen L$16 billion. All those linked in this horrific economic plunder and mass looting against the State and its people must be prosecuted and made to fully restitute such amount.

1 We call on you to prevail upon the Weah-led government to immediately release the internal investigative report of the Central Bank of Liberia that former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf referenced in her latest interview on BCC. This report in our opinion could unravel a lot of hidden secrets and untold realities.

1 We call on you to assist Liberia in auditing all financial transactions done so far under President George M. Weah and former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. We are also concerned about the recent infusion of US$25 million in the Liberian economy by the Weah-led government. We are also interested in knowing the source of this US$ 25 million and how it was infused in the economy. This we believe must be thoroughly investigated as well.

2 COCUBOMB craves your indulgence most respectfully to launch an investigation into the giant-sized private properties being constructed and/or purchased by President George M. Weah and some high-profile members of his government in just six (6) months of his tenure. We are confident that such investigation could also dig out some hard truths about this missing L$16 billion.

3 We call on you to prevail upon the Weah-led government to ensure full asset declaration by all public officials especially the President either before or during the course of the Independent International Forensic Investigation.

1 We call on you to expedite the establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Court in Liberia. This we believe would end the longstanding culture of impunity and guarantee justice for Liberia and Liberians especially war victims. This approach would certainly serve as a deterrence for would be war and economic criminals.

1 We submit to you the urgency to fully overhaul/upgrade Liberia’s financial management system in order to maintain fiscal discipline, accountability, transparency and public integrity at all levels. The need to reinforce and rebrand anti-graft institutions such as LACC, GAC, FIU, PPCC, LEITI and IAA cannot be overemphasized. Corruption especially in the judiciary must also be dealt with.

1 We demand that all former and present heads of these institutions (NPA, MoFDP, CBL, MICAT and RIA) that had/have direct link to this missing container immediately recuse themselves and be brought in for investigation by an independent international forensic investigative panel.

The people of Liberia through COCUBOMB remain very concerned and disturbed about those missing billion (US$106 million) that vanished without any trace up to now. It is sad that the government has been dishonest and inconsistent in releasing the facts. Accounts surrounding this missing L$16 billion from the MoJ, MoFDP, MICAT and even the Office of the President remain contradictory and are compounded with fundamental flaws.

The government cannot be the accused, the defendant, and at the same time the jurist. The Liberian people need their money back. Those who viciously siphoned our resources MUST account and account now! THE PEOPLE are resolved about this and we will not rest until this L$16 billion is fully accounted for by those we describe as ‘vicious economic scavengers and plunderers of our State’.

In all of these, we assure the Liberian people and the International Community that we shall remain peaceful, civil and matured as we pursue this irreversible and patriotic path of bringing an end to systemic corruption in Liberia.

The people deserve better – they deserve to rise above poverty, misery and inequality. It cannot be business as usual. The International Community must ACT to help rescue Liberia from perishing. The popular call of our PEOPLE is “BRING BACK OUR MONEY”.

COCUBOMB calls for the full protection of Journalists Philibert Brown of Hot Pepper Newspaper and Rodney Sieh of FrontPage Africa. We also call on you to protect the rights of campaigners who are demanding the full restitution of this L$16 billion. As we jealously protect the sovereignty and heritage of our State by standing up to those barriers (corruption, nepotism, tribalism, cronyism and religious intolerance) that kept us down as a people, we call you to join us in this pursuit to ensure that President Weah and his government account for L$16 billion that disappeared in thin air.

Done and sealed on this 24th Day of September A.D. 2018 in the City of Monrovia by through COCUBOMB, a representation of the Liberian people.

Signed: ______________________________________

                                 Jeremiah S. Swen

                     Secretary General, COCUBOMB

 

Approved: ____________________________________

                                   Martin K. N. Kollie

                               Chairman, COCUBOMB

To: US Embassy, United Nations, European Union, African Union, ECOWAS, French Embassy

Reputable Organizations that have endorsed this statement:

1 Student Unification Party (SUP)

2 People Action Network (PAN-Liberia)

3 Economic Freedom Fighters of Liberia (EFFL)

4 Movement of Justice in Africa (MOJA)

5 Liberia Labor Congress (LLC)

6 Workers’ Union of Liberia (WUL)

7 Foundation for Human Rights and Democracy (FOHRD)

8 Alliance for Transitional Justice in Liberia (ATJL)

9 Teachers in Action for Concerns (TAC-Liberia)

10 Federation of Liberian Youth (FLY)

11 Patriotic Consciousness Association of Liberia (PACAL)

12 Patriotic Entrepreneurs of Liberia (PATEL)

13 Movement of Social Democratic Alliance (MOSODA)

14 Financial Communication Sector Union (FCSU)

15 National Cosmetology Union of Liberia (NCUL)

16 Association of Opposition Political Parties Youth League in Support of Weah (AOPPYL)

17 Concerned Liberians in the Diaspora (CLD)

18 Citizen Action for the Establishment of a War and Economic Crimes Courts (CAEWECC)

19 Zorzor and Salayea Muslim Development Association (ZSMDA)

20 Forum for Democracy and Civic Education (FODCE)

21 Liberia National Student Union (LINSU)

22 TAG – Liberia

23 Concerned University and College Students (CUCS)

24 Conscious High School Students of Liberia (CHSL)

25 S. K. Doe Community Youth Association (SAKDOCYA)

26 Masses Against Poverty (MAP)

27  Federation of Sinkor Youth Association (FESYA)

28 Liberian Youth for Democracy

29 Agenda for Peace and Democracy

30 National Youth Against Violence (NYAV)

 

African Countries Unload on U.S. President Trump After His Disparaging Remarks

Several African nations have denounced the characterization of their nations as “shit-hole countries” by U.S. President Donald Trump.

US President Mr. Donald Trump
US President Mr. Donald Trump

The vulgar reference was reportedly made by the American President at a meeting with Congressional members last week at the White House.

In an official response, the continental group known as the African Union (AU), in a statement issued last week from his headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia said, “The African Union Commission is frankly alarmed at statements by the president of the United States when referring to migrants of African countries and others in such contemptuous terms. Considering the historical reality of how many Africans arrived in the U.S. during the Atlantic slave trade, this flies in the face of all accepted behavior and practice.”, the statement released by its spokesperson said.

The southern African powerhouse South Africa summoned made a formal protest on Monday over the U.S. President’s remarks and at a meeting with the top U.S.    representative in Johannesburg, South Africa said that it was concerned about the “statements that were allegedly made by President Donald Trump.”

U.S. diplomats in Ghana, Botswana, and Senegal were also summoned by those countries in order to register their protest at the statement allegedly made by the U.S. President.

African Union ambassadors at the U.N. on last Friday issued a strongly worded statement in which they said, ” “The African Union Mission wishes to express its infuriation, disappointment and outrage over the unfortunate comment made by Mr. Donald Trump, President of the United States of America, which remarks dishonor the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity.”

The Gambian Foreign Ministry denounced the U.S. President’s remarks saying, “The Government of the Republic of The Gambia is appalled by the remarks and finds it inconceivable that a President of a country regarded by many as one of the most tolerant and democratic countries in the world would utter such racial remarks.”

“The Government of the Republic of The Gambia is appalled by the remarks and finds it inconceivable that a President of a country regarded by many as one of the most tolerant and democratic countries in the world would utter such racial remarks,” the statement noted, and concluded by saying “The Government of The Gambia, therefore, calls on President Trump to withdraw his remarks and give a fitting apology to the African continent and Haiti.”

President Trump and some of his allies have denied making the disparaging comments.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

 

African Countries Defy and Vote Against U.S. on “Jerusalem Declaration”

Philadelphia, PA – A vote on Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly shows a total of 35 African countries in the General Assembly voting against the world super power the U.S. to reject its recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state of Israel.

United States UN Ambassador Nikki Haley
United States UN Ambassador Nikki Haley

The U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley issued a threat to countries which voted against the US saying international funding assistance could be cut off. Then candidate Trump had vowed during campaigning that, if elected, he would move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

African countries which voted against the US include: 

Algeria

Angola

Boatswana

Burkina Faso

Burundi

Cabo Verde

Chad Comoros

Congo

Cote d’Ivoire

Djibouti

Egypt

Eritrea

Ethiopia

Gabon

Gambia

Ghana

Guinea

Liberia

Madagascar

Mali

Mauritania

Mauritius

Morocco

Mozambique

Namibia

Niger

Nigeria

Senegal

Somalia

South Africa

Sudan

Tunisia

United Republic of Tanzania and Zimbabwe

Togo President Faure-Gnassingbe
Togo President Faure-Gnassingbe

Togo was the only African nation which joined in support of the United States along with Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau.

African countries which abstained from the vote included: 

Benin

Cameroon

Equatorial Guinea

Lesotho

Malawi

Rwanda

South Sudan and Uganda

There were no votes recorded for the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Swaziland and Zambia

Of the 16 member nations of the sub-regional economic grouping known as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), all voted against the U.S. declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel except for Togo which supported the US while Benin abstained from voting.

Sierra Leone, as an ECOWAS member, recorded no vote.

Of the 15 member countries of the southern Africa regional economic grouping – the South Africa Development Authority (SADC) Swaziland, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia recorded no votes , while Lesotho and Malawi abstained.

20 African countries comprise the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a free trade region which stretches from Libya to Swaziland.

An 8-country trade bloc in east Africa makes up the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) and include Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, the Sudan, South Sudan and Uganda. The countries of South Sudan and Uganda recorded no vote at the UN General Assembly meeting on the issue while the rest of the members of the group against the United States.

Of the 5 nation Arab Maghreb Union, a trade and political bloc of North African nations consisting of Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, all voted against the U.S.

35 African nations joined the world community in defying the U.S. at the U.N vote to demand that the world super power rescind its declaration of the contested city of Jerusalem as the capital of of Israel. The non-binding and symbolic vote puts the U.S. in an awkward ad isolated position internationally.

Even major allies like the UK, Japan, German and France voted for the UN Resolution. 

It is unclear why Togo, the lone African nation, sided with the U.S. This long time African ally of the U.S. is facing political upheaval with calls and protests against President Faure Gnassingbe to step down from power.

Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma
Sierra Leone President Ernest Koroma

Sierra Leone recorded no vote and although no explanation was given, and it is assumed that the outgoing Koroma Administration is playing safe so not to hamstring the “Jerusalem position” of a new government which takes over following elections in March, 2018.

The U.S. Ambassador to the UN, following the vote, declared it null and void and re-echoed the position of President Donald Trump to cut of aid packages to countries which voted against the U.S.

 “We will remember it when we are called upon once again to make the world’s largest contribution to the United Nations,” Ms. Haley said. “And we will remember when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.” 

Muhammadu-Buhari
Nigeria President Muhammadu-Buhari

Sub-Sahara African countries are the biggest recipient of U.S. economic and development aid with the bulk going to the following countries in fiscal 2017:

Nigeria – $604.8 million

Ethiopia -$512.6 million

Kenya – $618.5 million

Uganda -$457 million

Zambia -$417 million

Egypt – $150 million

Senegal – $100.8 million

Liberia – $95 million

Ghana and Ivory Coast – $145.4 million

Egypt is the recipient of about $1.31 billion in security assistance.

UN Voting Record on Jerusalem
UN Voting Record on Jerusalem

It remains to be seen how the non-support and defiance of African countries against the U.S. on the “Jerusalem Declaration” will affect future economic and security assistance.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine

 

Liberia’s President Visits US And Appeals For Support for Educational System

Little Rock, Arkansas, U.S.A: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is appealing for support to rebuild Liberia’s educational system, which was destroyed during the years of civil conflict in the country.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Liberian President At Clinton School of Public Service Lecture

According to a press statement from the Liberian Presidency  copied to West African Journal Magazine, President Sirleaf made the appeal on Monday, December 4, 2017, when she spoke at the Frank and Kula Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series of the Clinton School of Public Service of the University of Arkansas in Little Rock, Arkansas, the United States.

Addressing students of the Clinton School of Public Service and hundreds of distinguished guests who crowded the auditorium, President Sirleaf said despite the progress Liberia has made since the end of the civil crisis, the educational system has been one of the weakest areas in the country’s recovery.

Cross Sectior of Audience at Clinton School of Public Service Lecture
Cross Section of Audience at Clinton School of Public Service Lecture.JPG

According to the press statement President Sirleaf noted that progress made in upgrading the educational system has led to an increase of two million students enrolled in school. She, however, added that there is a serious deficit of qualified teachers to properly mold the minds of the young people.

“The students are so many and the teachers are so few,” the Liberian President said, adding that there is a need to give the children quality education to enable them to compete within the global community.

President Sirleaf also noted that the health system in Liberia remains a challenge that must be addressed to enable Liberians to enjoy the benefit of quality health care.
Amid thunderous applause, the Liberian leader lauded the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI)/Clinton Foundation Ebola Response for sending the largest single supply of medical materials to Liberia to combat the Ebola epidemic.

She pointed out that while many expatriates left the country in the wake of the Ebola outbreak, the CHAI staff remained in Liberia and worked very closely with the health authorities to combat the disease at the risk of their lives.

She also commended President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for their steadfast support of Liberia during the country’s post-war reconstruction, including the Ebola crisis.

Serving as moderator during the interactive question and answer period, former U.S. President Bill Clinton lauded President Sirleaf and the people of Liberia for the progress Liberia has made in its post-war recovery, and assured that the Clinton Foundation will continue to be a partner in Liberia’s progress.

President Clinton expressed the need for Americans to seriously consider developing strong partnerships with Liberia, which he described as a beautiful country with many investment opportunities. “Liberia is a good place for investment,” the former US President added.

Audience Members at Clinton School of Public Service LecturePresident Clinton also indicated that there is a need for partnership to help improve Liberia’s health system. He assured that efforts would continue to be made to assist Liberia in those two areas of critical needs, which are education and health.

Prior to the impressive ceremony, President Sirleaf was taken on a tour of the Clinton Presidential Library, which is featuring an exhibit titled, “Mandela: The Journey to Ubantu.

The exhibit, which features various aspects of the late human rights legend, the press statement concluded.

West African Journal Magazine

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) On Decline In Senegal

http://players.brightcove.net/665003303001/SJg0bzqkZ_default/index.html?videoId=5166644786001

In the West African nation of  Senegal, the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) among younger women is trending downwards.

Senegal Map
Senegal Map

According to a report from the English and Wales based Charity 28 Too Many quoting data released in 2015 from the Agence Nationale de la Statistique et de la Demographique of Senegal and the Senega: Enquette Demographique et de Sante et de Sante 2015, the prevalence of FGM among women between the ages of 15 – 49 is 24.2%.

According to the group End FGM European Network FGM “comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).”

FGM which is carried out by traditional health practitioners and herbalists or community elders in Senegal is done on girls before they reach the age of 10 and around two thirds about 67.6% by the age of 5, according to the data used.

An emergency-room doctor in the U.S. Midwest has been arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, in the first criminal case brought under a 1996 law that outlawed the practice. Jumana Nagarwala, a 44-year-old doctor at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, is accused of performing genital mutilation on young girls as far back as 2005, according to a criminal complaint released Thursday. The U.S. Department of Justice said she
Ceremony in Senegal Announcing End to FGM

According to data, 50% of women between the ages of 15 – 49 were “cut, flesh removed.”

In the south of the country, FGM is widely carried out and accounts for 76.9% and about 6.9% in central Senegal.

Citing the prevalence of FGM across the West African nation, the data used notes that among various ethnic groups  “…the highest practicing group include the Mandigue 71.1%, Sonike 60.9%, Poular 50.7% and Diola 47.9%. The lowest prevalences are found among the Wolofs 1.3% and the Serers 1.1% citing low sample sizes. FGM prevalences among Animists is 44.8%, among Muslims 25% and 7.8% among Christians. 14.4% of women and 15.7% of men believe that FGM is a religious requirement.”

The practice of FGM shows a decline in women between the ages of 15-49 now at 24.2% compared to 28.2 in 2005 in Senegal. Data further shows a decline of the practice among younger women.

Legislation was passed in 1999 by the Senegalese Government which specifically sanctioned the practice of FGM.

International Practice of FGM

FGM In Africa
FGM In Africa

The United Nations says that FGM is practiced in various communities in the following African Countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.

In some western countries, including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom, it is reported that FGM is practiced among diaspora populations from places where the practice is common done.

However, there is an increase  effort to fight and eliminate the practice in Africa and Western countries including the formulation and enforcement of stringent legislation.

In April, 2017, the Voice of America reported that  “An emergency-room doctor in the U.S. Midwest has been arrested and charged with performing female genital mutilation on girls between the ages of 6 and 8, in the first criminal case brought under a 1996 law that outlawed the practice. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, a 44-year-old doctor at a hospital in Detroit, Michigan, is accused of performing genital mutilation on young girls as far back as 2005, according to a criminal complaint released … The U.S. Department of Justice said she “performed horrifying acts of brutality on the most vulnerable victims.”

US-DOJ LOGO
US Department of Justice

The US Government says it considers FGM a “…serious human rights abuse, and a form of gender based violence and child abuse…”

Criminal consequences of performing or assisting in FGM  against US law is 5 years in jail and fines or both and may have serious immigration consequences for immigrants who are convicted.

Effects of FGM

Some of the most common problems associated with the practice of FGM include:

  • Severe bleeding, pain and shock which sometimes lead to death
  • Infection, which sometimes lead to death
  • Urination and menstrual obstruction
  • Increased risk of urinary tract infections and HIV
  • Mental health problems, including PTSD
  • Sexual dysfunction, including dyspareunia
  • Complications in pregnancy and childbirth, which sometimes lead to death

Videos courtesy of Al Jazeera

By Emmanuel Abalo 

West African Journal Magazine

Liberian Refugees In U.S. Worried About Possible End To TPS Program Next March

Philadelphia, PA USA

Liberian beneficiaries of Deferred Enforced Departure also known as DED in the United States may have reason to be apprehensive about their own future given the decision of the Trump Administration to end Temporary Protective Status (TPS) for thousands of citizens from Central America and Haiti.

It can be recalled that the current TPS designation for Liberians was extended by President Barack Obama but now expires on March 18, 2017.

In a memorandum issued on September 16, 2016 to then Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, President Obama directed him “to extend for an additional 18 months the deferred enforced departure (DED) of certain Liberians and to provide for work authorization during that period.”

Flag of Liberia
Flag of Liberia

According to the Memorandum, “Pursuant to his constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States, President Obama has determined that there are compelling foreign policy reasons to again extend Deferred Enforced Departure (“DED”) to Liberian nationals who are currently residing in the United States under the existing grant of DED. The President accordingly directed that Liberian nationals (and eligible persons without nationality who last resided in Liberia) who are physically present in the United States, have continuously resided in the United States since October 1, 2002, and who remain eligible for DED through September 30, 2016, be provided DED for an additional 18-month period. See Presidential Memorandum—Deferred Enforced Departure for Liberians, September 28, 2016 (“Presidential Memorandum”).

Note that only individuals who held Temporary Protected Status (TPS) on September 30, 2007, the date that a former TPS designation of Liberia terminated, are eligible for DED, provided they have continued to meet all other eligibility criteria established by the President. The President also directed the Secretary to implement the necessary steps to authorize employment authorization for eligible Liberians for 18 months, from October 1, 2016 through March 31, 2018.

Department of Homeland Security
Department of Homeland Security

According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a provisional immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries suffering the effects of an ongoing armed conflict, environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions. During the period for which the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated a country under the TPS program, beneficiaries are not required to leave the United States and may obtain employment authorization.

TPS does not lead to permanent resident status, however, when the Secretary terminates a country’s designation, the alien will return to the status he/she had prior to TPS or to any other status he/she may have obtained while registered for TPS.”

In the case of Liberia, since 1991 the U.S. granted TPS to thousands of Liberians citizens who fled the brutal civil war.

Liberians in the U.S. benefitted from a series of extensions to their initial TPS designation until expiration on September 28, 1999 based on a determination of the then U.S. Attorney General the late Janet Reno who stated that “Based upon a more recent review of conditions within Liberia by the Departments of Justice and State, the Attorney General finds that conditions no longer support a TPS designation. A Department of State memorandum concerning Liberia states that “[t]he divisive civil war in Liberia which began in 1990 ended with the Abuja Peace Accords in 1996. Since 1997, the country in general has not experienced ongoing armed conflict. In September 1998, violence erupted suddenly in Monrovia. * * * Since then, however, no further general conflict has occurred.” The memorandum also states that “Although conditions in Liberia remain difficult, the overall situation is not sufficiently adverse to prevent most Liberian nationals in the U.S. from returning to Liberia in safety.” It concludes, “The Department of State finds that sufficient grounds to recommend a further extension of TPS for Liberia do not exist. We therefore recommend that TPS for Liberia be terminated on its current expiration date of September 28, 1999.”  

Following the expiration of TPS designation for Liberians, then President Bill Clinton, made the determination that for “foreign policy reasons, protection from removal should be extended for a year after that date.” Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) status was extended to Liberians and subsequently extended. The last extension was issued in September, 2016 by President Obama and expires in March, 2018.

According to the DHS, DED is similar to TPS in that it allows aliens of a particular nationality to remain and work in the United States without the threat of deportation. The President issues a DED directive based on his constitutional authority related to foreign policy, whereas the Attorney General has statutory authority to designate a country for TPS.

USCIS
US Custom and Immigration Service – USCIS

Apprehension amongst Liberian DED beneficiaries was heightened late on Friday, November 3, when the Washington Post reported that on last Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on last Tuesday, dispatched a a letter to acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke informing her that for over 300,00 nationals of Central America and Haiti, conditions which had been used to justify their Temporary Protective Status in the U.S. no longer existed to warrant the continuation of this designation and protection.

Many of the Central American and Haitian migrants, in addition to their TPS status were allowed to live and work in the U.S.

Reports say scores of Central American and Haitian nationals, in anticipation of the revocation of their TPS status have been making their way north through unofficial border crossings to seek sanctuary in Canada.

Liberia
Map of Liberia

Liberian activists and some members of the U.S. Congress have been lobbying the new Trump Administration to continue the extension of DED designation upon expiration in March of next year. However, the Trump Administration has shown no inclination to further extension and protection. Any cue from the new US government can be found in its latest decision to terminate protection of Central American and Haitian nationals when protections end early next year. Another indication of the leaning of the U.S. Government was its decision to terminate the 2014 – 2016 Ebola-related TPS designation in May of this year for some nationals of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

Many Liberians on DED have put down roots, held long term jobs, purchased homes and businesses and have children and grand children who are American citizens. If DED status is revoked for these Liberian nationals, individuals with no other lawful immigration status on March 19, 2018, will no longer be protected from removal or eligible for employment authorization in the U.S.

By Emmanuel Abalo

West African Journal Magazine