Church Working for Calm After Street Violence Liberia

10/16/2015

A hotel in Ganta, Liberia, was set ablaze by an angry mob. Reports of violence in northern Liberia have been on the rise. Photo courtesy of Julu Swen, UMNS

Photo courtesy of Julu Swen, UMNS

A hotel in Ganta, Liberia, was set ablaze by an angry mob. Reports of violence in northern Liberia have been on the rise.


 

By Julu Swen, United Methodist News Service

In the wake of street violence and a series of gruesome deaths, The United Methodist Church led a call for a day of fasting and prayer on Oct. 1.

Roger Dormah, principal of the United Methodist School in Ganta, said there have been a chain of mysterious deaths in and around the city. The public has accused local authorities of not doing anything about the situation.

“On Sept. 30, the body of a motorbike rider was found on the Ganta United Methodist Mission football field,” Dormah confirmed. He said five bodies have been found in and around the town of Ganta – two children and three adults.

Dormah also indicated that the Ganta United Methodist School is temporarily closed. The plan is to reopen school on Oct. 5, depending on the security situation.

Meanwhile, the Ganta United Methodist Hospital is open and providing care, officials said.

“The hospital administrator met with local police authorities so hospital vehicles will be allowed to transport employees and/or emergency cases in spite of the curfew,” Dormah said.

Two United Methodist staff and missionaries – Priscilla Jaiah and Albert Willicor – are safe and on duty at the Ganta United Methodist Mission station.

Other reports indicate that tension is high and the public is demanding the government arrest those involved.

“We have advised our children to move in groups, stay at home at night and send up an alarm about any strange individual they may see roaming around their communities,” Dormah said. Communities are taking security into their own hands.

“As a church we have to stand up and support those who are affected by these waves of killings that is going on in our community,” he concluded. None of the victims have been United Methodists, he said.

Third wave of violence

The wave of violence in Ganta, which is in Nimba County in northern Liberia, is the third in a series of violent situations involving the public and the security forces.

In July, Jefferson Knight, director of the Human Rights Monitor for The United Methodist Church of Liberia, and his staff led hundreds of students and residents in the Brewerville community in a protest march to register their indignation for the brutal rape that resulted in the death of a 17-year-old girl.

In August, a police station was burned after a truck driver, who allegedly crushed a motorcyclist to death, sought refuge with the police. When the police refused to turn the driver over to the mob, the station was set on fire.

In the same month, a 9-year-old girl was murdered and her mutilated body stuffed in a suitcase and dumped in the street in Paynesville outside of Monrovia.

The violence comes at a time when many Liberians feel there will be chaos in the country once the United Nations Mission in Liberia ends their peacekeeping mission in 2016. Already, the peacekeepers have indicated the security of the country will be turned over to the Liberian  government in June 2016.