Mysterious Deaths of Children Ahead of Elections Raises Concerns

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The speaker of the National Children Representative Forum has raised concerns over the mysterious deaths of children as the presidential and legislative elections draw closer.

Satta Sheriff said with barely six months until the October elections, more children are going missing and dying under mysterious circumstances.

A report from the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection dated April 17 revealed that at least six children went missing and three were found dead in the first two weeks of April alone.

According to the report, a 20-month-old child went missing on April 3 and was found dead in Zorzor, Lofa with missing eyes and other body parts.

“A 13-year-old boy named Logan also went missing. After days he was found dead beside a river in Gbarnga, none of his body parts were missing,” the report added.

Another child between eight and 10 years of age went missing in Parguwon District, Sinoe and was later found dead in a box with all teeth missing from his mouth.

Also in Lofa, unknown men attacked a 5-year-old boy who accompanied his mother to the farm in Barkado after his mother had briefly left his side. The report says the boy was rescued from his attackers before they could kill him.

Sheriff said the report is scary, especially when the country is preparing to go to elections. She said government and society must create a secure and safe environment for children at all times.

“The government must do more to ensure more security and protection for children,” she said.

At the same time, Sheriff encouraged the government to revisit its recent pronouncement to get rid of children selling in the streets, especially during school hours.

Recently, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, in partnership with the Liberia National Police and Monrovia City Corporation, launched a program to take children from the streets.

Satta believes the program is not as effective as it could be.

When contacted, Lydia Sherman, the deputy minister for children protection at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, said she was not on official duty due to illness.

The spokesman of the Liberia National Police, Sam Collins, also reserved his comments for later.

Ritualistic killings have long been a part of Liberia’s history. The killings usually peak around elections season as body parts are used in rituals, with the belief that they would give political aspirants an edge in the polls.

Featured photo by Gbatemah Senah

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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