AML Pledges Support To Combat Drug Abuse in Liberia By: Wremongar Joe

MONROVIA: To buttress the Country’s attempt to address the increasing crisis of drug abuse in Liberia, ArcelorMittal Liberia has pledged its solidarity with the Liberian government’s efforts to tackle the scourge of illicit substances.

This significant commitment was made following a high-profile meeting between Lakshmi Mittal, the owner and executive chairman of Mittal Steel, and President Boakai in Monrovia on Monday. Mr. Mittal was in Monrovia Monday on a private visit to President Boakai when he announced that Mittal Steel intends to increase its investment in Liberia to three billion dollars to a long-term partnership with this West African nation.

A joint statement issued by the Government of Liberia and the company said “As an integral component of Liberia’s socio-economic development, the Government is steadfast in its efforts to combat the trafficking and consumption of illicit drugs.

“ArcelorMittal is aligned with this mission and pledges support by investing in community programs and initiatives aimed at raising awareness among local communities about the risks associated with the use of drugs and other harmful substances, safeguarding livelihoods and the wellbeing of Liberians”, the statement noted.

According to a recent Situational Analysis of Drug Abuse in Liberia as released by the Global Action for Sustainable Development in Liberia in April 2023, the gravity of the situation is starkly evident.  Monrovia, Liberia’s capital, the report said is grappling with a staggering 866 ghettos, serving as havens for chronic drug users.

Shockingly, Global Action for Sustainable Development in Liberia claims an estimated 100,000 individuals are engaged in substance abuse, while the Drug Enforcement Agency operates with just a meager budget of 1.2 million dollars in Fiscal Year 2023.

The report further underscores Liberia’s emergence as a significant transit country for illicit narcotics owing to factors such as the country’s nascent law enforcement capacity, porous border controls, and proximity to major drug transit routes that exacerbate the trafficking of drugs to and through Liberia.

Recent high-profile arrests, including a seizure of 100 million United States Dollars’ worth of drugs, highlights the severity of the issue.

While Liberia isn’t a significant producer of illicit narcotics, local drug usage, particularly marijuana, remains widespread. Heroin and cocaine are also prevalent, with local authorities reporting an increase in the use of amphetamine-type stimulants and intravenous drugs.

The consequences of drug abuse extend beyond individual health, with ramifications for national security.

The proliferation of ghettos and open scenes of consumption not only breeds criminal activity but also poses a direct threat to the stability and security of Liberia.

The failure to address drug addiction during previous disarmament, demobilization, rehabilitation, and resettlement programs many believe has contributed to a surge in youth involvement in drug use, fueled by peer pressure and societal factors.

Arcelor Mittal’s pledge to support the Liberian government’s anti-drug initiatives could mean a lot to combating this pressing issue.

The company has promised it will do this through investment in community programs and awareness campaigns to educate local communities about the risks associated with substance abuse, safeguarding the livelihoods and well-being of Liberians.

It is expected that the company will be working in partnership with the government and other stakeholders to contribute to the creation of a safer and more prosperous Liberia for all its citizens.

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