History of the conflict in the Mano River region
In the Mano River Region, which includes Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, two civil wars and two political crises led to more than 500,000 deaths and the destruction of the functioning of state institutions.
Although armed conflicts are officially over, tensions are still high, particularly in border areas and calls for accountability remain unanswered. These neighbouring countries have strong historical and cultural ties, and the line where one nation ends and another begins can be unclear.
Peace agreements eventually ended war in Sierra Leone in 2002 and Liberia in 2003. Meanwhile in Côte d’Ivoire, though a peace agreement in 2007 ended four years of political impasse and a sustained period of conflict, the country is still deeply divided. The legacies of these conflicts remain and continue to drive divisive political rhetoric across the countries.
Caught between borders
After the wars ended, young people had to return to the border communities, where there are few opportunities for skills development, training and employment. Disenfranchised young people and ex-combatants still face serious social, economic and political exclusion.
Meanwhile, unauthorised crossing points create opportunities for trade in illicit drugs, human trafficking, illegal arms and for criminal violence. Border communities are left insecure and susceptible to crime and uncontrolled refugee-related challenges.
Our work in the Mano River region
We have been working in the Mano River region since 1996. Collaborating with a range of national and local NGOs, international NGOs and government bodies, we focus on building relationships and opportunities for dialogue between civil society and governments and between governments.
Since 2010, we’ve helped establish a network of 18 locally-owned peacebuilding structures, called District Platforms for Dialogue (DPDs) in the border regions of Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. These platforms work to resolve local conflicts, and share the views and concerns of border populations with regional and national governments.
During the Ebola epidemic that swept across much of West Africa, these DPDs were vital in re-building relationships between communities, Ebola survivors, health workers and local authorities.