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War-related Violence

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Direct Experience

Widespread civilian displacement and civilian trauma are common components of civil war. This survey partially explored the conflict’s toll on the Liberian population. The surveyed adult Liberians reported displacement (77%), destruction of their house (61%), or looting and destruction of their crops (60%). Nationally, 78% of the population considered themselves a victim of the civil wars. The proportion was lowest, but still high, in Margibi (68%) and Grand Bassa (68%). Four out of five or more respondents were displaced in the counties of Bomi (91%), Grand Cape Mount (87%), Grand Gedeh (85%), Rural Montserrado (85%), and Greater Monrovia (80%). Physical violence was also frequent, with 35% of the respondents reporting experience of a direct attack with a weapon, and 30% reporting being beaten by fighters.

Witness Experience and Family Losses

The long-term toll of the wars on human capital is also illustrated in the high proportion of respondents who witnessed some form of violence, such as beatings (71%), destruction and looting (66%), and killings (47%). One in three respondents (33%) reported witnessing the killing of a family member. Nationally, three out of four respondents had lost a friend (75%) or at least one distant family member (76%). As many as one in two respondents indicated losing a sibling (49%), one or both parents (27%), and/or their children (17%).  

War-related Sexual violence

Liberia has not been immune to war-related sexual violence. Eight percent of the respondents reported having experienced sexual violence committed by fighters. Among women, the prevalence rate was 12%. The actual prevalence of sexual violence may be higher as the respondents may not have reported it due to the sensitivity of the question. A larger proportion indicated having witnessed sexual violence against women (27%), and against men (7%). Reports of sexual violence were higher in certain counties, especially Grand Bassa (20%), Lofa (19%), Bong (19%), and Gbarpolu (18%). The strongest differences between women’s reporting having experienced sexual violence and witness reports of sexual abuse against women were found in Rivercess (14% vs. 39%), Sinoe (7% vs. 31%), and Grand Gedeh (2% vs. 22%), which could be related to different attitudes among ethnic groups.[1]

Coercion and Abductions

The conflict in Liberia has led to well-documented abductions, forced labor, and forced recruitment of civilians and children by armed groups. One in three respondents (34%) reported being forced to carry loads or perform other labor for rebel groups at some point during the wars. Some were coerced to commit violent acts, such as being forced to loot or destroy properties (9%), to beat someone (3%), or to kill someone (1%).

One in five respondents (20%) said they had been abducted or kidnapped during the wars. In most cases (73%), the abduction lasted a month or less, with 12% reporting abduction of less than one day, and 20% reporting abduction of one day to a week.

Table 9: Exposure to War-Related Violence

Table 9 - Exposure to War-Related Violence

Figure 10: Abduction


In half the cases, those who experienced abduction reported being freed by escaping (58%), while a quarter (27%) indicated being freed by their abductors. A minority (7%) was freed through military action.


[1] By contrast, the smallest differences were found in Lofa (19% vs. 24%), Gbarpolu (18% vs. 23%), and Grand Bassa (20% vs. 26%).