In the Presence of Absence: Truth-Telling and Displacement in Liberia

Awa Dabo

Displacement was a major tactic used by armed groups during the brutal conflict in Liberia from 1989 to 2003. It is estimated that during this time, half the country’s population experienced displacement as a result of warfare. The large numbers of people forced from their homes meant that the displaced played a central role in the agreements ending the conflict. However, while the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was groundbreaking in its engagement with the diaspora community, no attempt was made to address internally displaced persons and their distinct needs. This paper discusses the challenges that the TRC faced in including IDPs and issues of concern to them in its work, and argues that displaced communities need to be engaged as early as possible in peacebuilding processes.

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