Monrovia – When it comes to reaching out to families in the Diaspora to lend a helping hand, many Liberians at home rarely have problems with identifying with those who fled the civil war for exile outside Liberia. On the contrary, when it comes to inputs on domestic politics impacting the future of Liberia, Liberians at home are becoming accustomed to shunning those residing in the United States, Great Britain, Canada and other countries.
Report by Rodney D. Sieh, firstname.lastname@example.org
This seems to be the consensus from many Liberians residing outside.
The issue is popping up again in the wake of a new survey conducted by the World Bank and the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-Information Services (LISGIS) which show that remittances from Liberians in the Diaspora account for the largest percentage of Liberia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) than any country in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The survey reveals that remittances to Liberia grew from US$360 million in 2011 to US$549 million in 2016, representing 27 percent of Liberia’s GDP.
The report notes that in 2014 and 2016, about 40 percent of the total transfers received were done through traceable methods such as Western Union, Moneygram or Mobile Money with the United States ranked first in the inflow of remittances to Liberia with the inflow of remittances from the US constituting 70 percent of the total inflow to Liberia in 2014 and 61 percent in 2016.
Mrs. Glendy Junius-Reeves, recently-elected as President of the US-based Cuttington University Alumni Association Cuttington University says it is time that Liberians begin recognizing the impact those residing in the Diaspora have been making toward the country’s overall development. “On the issue …….Liberians in the Diaspora need to be given more credit for what they have done. Liberia can only get better if we all work together as a team,” Junius laments.
Junius says it is important to note that the report states that most of the monies sent to Liberia came from family members and friends in the Diaspora. The recent World Bank survey also uncovered that about 75 percent of remittances from abroad to Liberians came from immediate family members. It also shows that 60 percent of transfers received were done informally.
Ahead of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, a spokesperson for the All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, representing over 500,000 Liberians in the Diaspora said in response to FrontPageAfrica inquiry regarding the report, said it is very difficult, if not impossible to understand why Liberians are claiming that Diaspora Liberians and to be specific those Liberians who have changed their citizenship have abandoned their country, Liberia. “How have Diaspora Liberians abandoned Liberia when they are providing scholarships, healthcare, sharing knowledge and skills with their peers in Liberia and providing vast amounts of money for family and friends?”
“I think it’s unfair for some to look at Liberians in the Diaspora as Foreigners.” – Glendy Junius-Reeves, President, Cuttington University Alumni Association
Mr. Emmanuel Wetee, a former President of the Union of Liberians in the United States says despite the contributions of Diaspora Liberians to Liberia, Liberian political leaders, including lawmakers are not prepared to amend the 1974 Alien and Nationality Law to allow dual citizenship in Liberia. “Also, Diaspora Liberians are awaiting the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of the 1974 Alien and Nationality Law, a case submitted by Cllr. Seward Cooper, representing A. Jalloh Teage as the plaintiff in March 2017.”
Wetee says after debating proposed amendments to the Alien and Nationality Law sponsored by Senators H. Varney G. Sherman, GRAND CAPE MOUNT COUNTY, Armah Zolu Jallah, GBARPOLU COUNTY, and Geraldine Doe-Sheriff, MONTSERRADO COUNTY, the Liberian Senate has yet to vote on the bill.
According to Senate rules, if Senator Albert Chie, President Pro-Tempore of the Liberian Senate does not put the bill up for a vote and the Senate leaves for a break on August 31, 2018, the bill will not be discussed again until the Senate returns in 2019.
Ahead of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly, the All-Liberian Conference on Dual Citizenship, representing over 500,000 Liberians in the Diaspora have launched an appeal to both Senator Albert Chie, President Pro-Tempore and President George Weah to encourage the Liberian Senate to vote on the bill before their August 31st break.
Diaspora Liberians are hopeful that the bill will solidify their importance those in the Diaspora are making to their homeland.
“This act of unflinching commitment underscores an enduring devotion to the survival of their nation, and people. Recognizing this value, those in leadership should be wise by taking concrete actions to maximize upon this national asset. Dual citizenship for natural born Liberians would be the first step.” – John Lloyd, Liberian Diaspora Community
Mr. John Lloyd, a former leader of both the Liberian Community in Washington DC, and ULAA who has been a leading voice for Liberian Immigration protection at the U.S. Congress, says reaching the mark as the second largest contributor of remittances in the world says something about the commitment of Liberians abroad. “For more than 20 years Liberians have remained the largest single source of contribution to the Liberian economy, well exceeding any other source of foreign aid. This act of unflinching commitment underscores an enduring devotion to the survival of their nation, and people. Recognizing this value, those in leadership should be wise by taking concrete actions to maximize upon this national asset. Dual citizenship for natural born Liberians would be the first step.”
Social media have become a battlefield in recent months amid some testy exchanges between Liberians at home and those abroad. Diaspora Liberians are often accused of not making any contributions to the country, particularly during debates over elections of presidential and legislative candidates eyeing political office.
For Junius, Liberians at home want to have their cake and eat it, relying on families and friends outside for help to survive but shunning their inputs and regarding them as foreigners. “I think it’s unfair for some to look at Liberians in the Diaspora as Foreigners,” she says.