Over fifty (50) youth representatives from the fifteen counties of Liberia and national youth institutions have called on the Liberian Government to address key aspects in the fight against illicit drugs and the use of harmful substances in Liberia.
The fight toward a drug free society according to the youth, becomes even more worrisome base on the current state of harmful drugs in the country. “We are worried over the negative and sociological impact drugs trafficking has pose on the youth of this country”. They alarmed.
The youths made these assertions at the just ended National Drug Prevention Youth Conference in commemoration of the 2017 International Day against Drug Abuse & Illicit Trafficking held in Monrovia on June 22, 2017 at the YMCA organized by the Consolidated Youth for Peace & Development (COYPED), UNODC, ECOWAS and funded by the European Union.
The youth in a communiqué Thursday, presented nine counts recommendation to the Government of Liberia and stakeholders as ways of curbing the growing rate of drugs in the country.
According to COYPED executive director James Koryor, realizing that over 80% of substance users in Liberia are young people between the ages of 13-35 years, limited resources to combat drug trafficking by state institutions, lack of effective civil society organizations coordination and the non-existence of programs that focuses on care and support for substance users considering a human rights based approach;
The COYPED boss furthered that encouraged by the convocation of the United Nations General Assembly on the Worlds Drug Problems (UNGASS – 2016) and ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on illicit drug trafficking, related organized crime and drug abuse in West Africa as an authentic means to announce to national stakeholders and the world at large the views of the young people of Liberia regarding Substance abuse laws, policies and programs and desirous of ensuring that the voice of the youths of Liberia are heard at the national level regarding issues of Substance abuse.
Also at the program, the Liberia National Police revealed that the LNP has launched what he refers to as a war against drugs, substance abuse and illicit trafficking currently at the peak in Liberia. The LNP disclosed that these acts are being carried out especially among young people considered to be the most dominant of all Liberians nationwide.
The LNP maintained that it will not relent in the fight against the use of harmful substances until the war is won. The Inspector General of the Liberia National Police Honorable Gregory Coleman made the statement when he spoke Thursday in Monrovia through a proxy, Hon. Al Karlay, at the First National Drugs Prevention Youth Conference in the country.
Inspector Coleman maintained that as part of his efforts, the LNP will continue to put in place techniques to clamp down on what he described as the production, distribution and consumption fronts of all narcotics substances in the country.
For her part, the Political Officer at the European Delegation in Liberia, Madam Emma Sundblad stated that the EU is committed to supporting the sub region in the fight against drug abuse.
Madam Sundblad call for concerted effort to minimize substance abuse in Liberia. The EU Political Officer furthered called on youths delegates to come up with key recommendations that could enhance the prevention of drug abuse in Liberia.
Also speaking at the conference, the National Project Officer at the United Nations Office on Drug & Crimes Liberia office, Mr. William T. Thompson, III reaffirmed his organization support to drug prevention in Liberia.
The UNODC official also used the occasion to call on the Government of Liberia to take ownership of national prevention and rehabilitation programs in the country stressing that it is regrettable to note that there is not a single rehabilitation center in the country.
For his part, the Deputy Information Minister for Technical Services at the Ministry of Information, Hon. Rixck Barsigiah termed as a major challenge for Liberians considering the increase wave of the use of harmful drugs and substances by youth throughout the state.
In his thought, the rate at which illicit drugs has reached in the local society, suggest that such act could get even worse if Liberians don’t see this as a holistic fight. He said the government has done its best in this fight but efforts by the locals will enhance the best opportunity to overcome the practice.
Also speaking at the opening session of the Conference, the Team Leader of Crime Investigation Support Team of the United Nations Police (UNPOL) Mr. Alexandrus Ursu stated that he believe Liberians should begin raising alarms by reporting and not partaking in harmful drug offenses. He added that harmful drugs usage does not solve problem regardless of how much of it is consumed.
The second session of the conference was categorized by comprehensive working sessions that drafted a common position of Liberian youths. The delegates at the event reviewed the document and later adopted and endorsed it as the Liberian Youth Common Position on Drug Prevention. The communique was officially read after endorsement by Boakai Kamara of Gbarpolu County.
In his closing remarks, the deputy director of COYPED, Joseph F. Wiah Jr. commended the delegates for taking up their time to form part of a group that believe it is time that the issue of drug prevention in Liberia be taken serious.
The COYPED official also stated that the Liberian Youth Common Position on Drug Prevention will be the first major advocacy tool for young people to use in holding their leaders accountable as it relates to substance abuse.
The event brought together youth and student representatives from the 15 counties, international organizations, Government officials, CSOs, substance users and the media.