LRRRC Develops Framework to Rehabilitate ‘Disadvantaged Youth’

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-Conducts surveys, develops nationwide statistics

Hundreds of disadvantaged youth, who have gained notoriety by the name ‘Zogos’ — both male and female — are expected to benefit from a nationwide rehabilitation program already conceptualized by the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC).

The initiative, which is expected to rid many communities of suspected criminals, who the LRRRC has classified as national internally displaced persons (NIDP) or disadvantaged youth, is also supported by the Liberia Institute for Statistics and Geo-information Services (LISGIS) through data collection.

Festus B. Logan, who is the executive director of LRRRC, told the Daily Observer recently at his office in Monrovia that the Commission’s objective is to give a productive meaning to the lives of several young people who are feared by many residents across the country due to their action necessitated by drugs addiction.

“The Liberia 2019 Zogos Survey represents a milestone in the country’s history of statistics as it is the first survey done on the Zogos. LRRRC is is implementing a project with financial support from the government and the International Organization for Migration (IOM),” Logan said.

He added that the LRRRC also received technical support from LISGIS, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR), the National Aids Control Program (NACP), and the Ministry of Health (MoH).

The survey covered Montserrado, Margibi, and Grand Bassa counties, but with specific emphasis on Montserrado, which is considered for the establishment of a baseline.

The overall objective of the NIDPs’ study in urban and rural areas of these selected counties is to establish the current situation regarding Zogos’ exploitation and abuse in targeted communities, and what kind of intervention the government and partners can provide in finding durable solutions for them,” Logan said.

The survey also aims at collecting information in each of the targeted communities to enable the identification and analysis of the causes and consequences of NIDPs/Zogos engaged in issues that affect their growth and development.

About the Commission’s survey, Logan said, 5,274 households in 46 communities with 46 pre-selected ghettos were visited recently, and direct interactions were held with the NIDPs and other individuals of interest.

“Data was collected from 5,274 NIDPs via focus group discussion; community-based survey; and key informant interview, and the data was sent to LISGIS for analysis from where relevant indicators validated the samples.

“The survey’s results are not generalized to national and sub-national levels as the sampling process was biased (purposeful sampling) in order to provide rich information that can be used to inform future programs and policies,” Logan further explained.

He said from the data collected and processed, male drug addicts constitute 91.5 percent of the total 5,274 respondents, while female drug addicts make up 8.5 percent, and that it was clearly learned from the survey that male drug addicts are more vulnerable than their female counterparts.

One of the housing units for the rehabilitation center being painted by some volunteers.

Logan reported that 16.9 percent of the males and 14.3 percent of females were reported to have come from Lofa County, while 11.7 percent of males and 14.3 percent females were from Bong County.

This, he said, was followed by Grand Bassa reporting 10.0 percent and 13.4 percent for both male and female NIDPs. In Montserrado County, 11.4 percent and 11.3 percent accounted for both male and female NIDPs.

According to Mr. Logan, a rehabilitation center is undergoing renovation in Bomi County, and when completed, the LRRRC will take about 150 NIPDs or Zogos to the center to be rehabilitated in about six months’ time. This exercise, he said, will be regular six months rehabilitation with added advantage of skills training.

“With the government’s and partners’ support, we will cater to about 150 NIDPs at that center. This means we will enroll the affected youth twice a year so as to help them for subsequent reintegration,” he said.

Logan said his Commission’s survey shows that the users of drugs, its sellers and enforcement agencies are all associated with drugs, and therefore, they all need counseling and rehabilitation.

“The lack of access to money to procure the drugs makes the disadvantaged youth to go out and steal; they harass people because of the lack of food to stabilize the effect of the drugs on them,” he said.

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