Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2010 - Liberia

Quick facts
Number of IDPsUndetermined
Percentage of total populationUndetermined
Start of current displacement situation1989
Peak number of IDPs (Year)500,000 (2003)
New displacementUndetermined
Causes of displacementArmed conflict, generalised violence, human rights violations
Human development index162

Following the end of a 14-year civil war in 2003, the number of IDPs in Liberia dwindled from an estimated 500,000 to only a few thousand by 2010. With the support of UNHCR, IOM and WFP, IDPs began to return in large numbers from 2004 to 2006, by which point all 35 camps which had hosted almost 330,000 IDPs were officially closed.

By the end of 2010, the Liberian government and its international counterparts considered the internal displacement situation over. Nonetheless, the situation of an unknown number of displaced people, who had sought refuge in public buildings in the capital Monrovia and who had never registered as IDPs, remained unclear.

Disputes over the use and ownership of land in return areas have continued; the failure to resolve these issues has stood in the way of the re-establishment of long-term security. Recurrent outbursts of violence between rival ethnic groups, such as those between Muslims and Christians in Lofa County in February 2010, have demonstrated the fragility of the situation. Violence against women and girls has remained widespread.

At the same time, displacement and migration into urban areas has put great pressure on urban facilities, and in October, the National Land Commission convened a conference to formulate guidelines for the development of an urban land policy as a step to address the land issues in the country.

General and presidential elections are due to be held in October 2011, and the effectiveness of the electoral process will serve as an indicator of the level of peace and stability. Liberia adopted the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement into national legislation in 2004, and was among the first countries to sign the Kampala Convention in October 2009. However, better governance and wider access to justice are needed if people are to achieve truly durable solutions.


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