EU says social exclusion could spark another conflict in Liberia
The European Union Delegation to Liberia has identified social exclusion and discrimination as two issues that remain obstacles to Liberia’s pursuit of inclusive economic development and a likely source of future conflict unless adequately addressed, an EU press statement said in Monrovia on Tuesday..
In a speech in Liberian capital on Tuesday at the start of an event organized to validate Liberia's National Draft Social Protection Strategy and Policy, the Acting Head of the EU Delegation to Liberia, stressed the importance of social protection aimed at ensuring sustainable growth and inclusive development.
According to Mr. Tomas Niklasson, "the EU believes that social protection programs are not only a way to address the needs of the most vulnerable groups of the population but also a tool to foster social inclusion and social cohesion, within countries and between countries".
He emphasized that this is why the EU Delegation to Liberia is pleased to see that Liberia shares the same ideas and values as the EU with respect to social protection as reflected in Liberia's draft social protection strategy and policy.
Referring to social exclusion and discrimination as two widely believed root causes of Liberia's protracted civil war, Mr. Niklasson, who is also the Chargé d'Affaires a.i. (ad interim) of the EU Delegation to Liberia, however highlighted that: "Social protection, as it is mentioned, can contribute to lasting peace and security and the rebuilding of the social contract between the citizens and the state."
He disclosed that as part of the EU's development portfolio in Liberia, the EU is financing Cash transfer programmes implemented by the Ministry of Gender and Development with the support from UNICEF.
"We are also supporting other related interventions such as the program "From Exclusion to Equality" in support of disabled people or the Community Empowerment program implemented by the Liberia Agency for Community Empowerment (LACE). These are isolated projects, useful and worthwhile, but which have not benefited from a Liberian owned strategy and policy as a reference", he added.
The EU, according to Mr. Niklasson, is therefore, very pleased with the leading role that the Government of Liberia has taken in developing a strategy for social protection in the country.
"It is clear, already from the Poverty Reduction Strategy and Agenda for Transformation, as well as in the current draft budget, that this is a priority for the Government," he observed.
Concluding, Mr. Niklasson cautioned that "social protection is not just a policy aimed at supporting the working-age population but as mentioned in the strategy, poverty and the need for protection are even more accentuated among children and young people, and among the elderly. These are key groups in a Liberia determined to build a brighter future for all – providing better education for girls and boys and investing in skills for young people – while remembering and respecting where it comes from," the EU statement said.