ECOMOG Soldiers Abandon Their 250, 000 Children In Liberia
ABUJA, July 21, (THEWILL) - As fall out of the two civil wars that engulfed Liberia between 1989 and 2003, over 250,000 children born by soldiers who served in the Economic Community Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peace keeping force are still roaming the streets of Liberia.
The first Liberian civil war was fought from 1989-1996 and it claimed the lives of more than 200,000 Liberians and further displaced a million others into refugee camps in neighboring countries while the second war fought between 1999 and 2003 created children soldiers who committed atrocities, rapes and murders.
Director General of the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa, ministry of foreign affairs, Dr. Sule Yakubu Bassi disclosed this at an interactive session with the House of Representatives Committee on Diaspora.
While enumerating some of the challenges faced by Nigerian Embassies and Missions, Bassi disclosed that the Nigerian Embassy in Liberia is constantly flooded by children and their mothers in search of their fathers.
According to him, some soldiers in the Nigerian contingent at ECOMOG had relationships with Liberian women during the war resulting in the birth of those children who thronged the Embassy every now and then to trace their biological fathers.
He said, "There are 250,000 Nigerian children of ECOMOG soldiers. The children were born by Nigerian soldiers who went to Liberia during the war.
"We have cases of women and children coming to look for husbands and fathers at the Nigerian Embassy. This has posed a big challenge to the Nigerian Embassy officials."
On the number of Africans in the Diaspora, the Director General said over 32 million Africans were in the Diaspora while Nigeria accounted for 17 million of the figure. He explained that the statistics does not include Nigerians living in other African countries adding that some of them were thoroughbred professionals that could help the country in different areas of development.
Bassi lamented that just recently, about 20 medical doctors serving in Nasarawa State left to take up jobs in Egypt over disagreement with the state government resulting in a strike action.
He disclosed that as part of efforts to encourage Nigerians in Diaspora particularly professionals to transfer their knowledge back home, the African Development Bank (ADB) has provided a US $25 million facility under the Scientific and Exchange Programme (SEP).
Chairman of the House Committee on Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa in her response told the Director General that the House would send a delegation to the Nigerian Embassy in Liberia and the Liberian authorities soon.