Rev. Torli H. Krua, founder of Universal Human Rights International (UHRI), has launched a commonsense campaign in Liberia to promote Family Visa Initiative.
Rev. Krua, who has arrived in Liberia for the new sustainable development strategy, said it is aimed at improving the quality of life of Liberian families by granting access to equal opportunities and resources and networks of the Liberian Diaspora.
UHRI, he said, is seeking a waiver of all visa fees for members of the Liberian Diaspora to open the doors for those who fled during the war to return home to visit their families and engage in economic activities thereby beginning the healing process.
Until now, he said, there has been a call for dual citizenship and for Liberians to return home but the door to Liberia is effectively shut to many in the Liberian Diaspora Community.
There are over 10,000 Liberians in Australia since the year 2000 but there is no diplomatic mission or consulate to process visas, Rev. Kruah said.
Liberian refugees who resettled in Australia still have families in Liberia, he noted, saying, “they went to Australia on a one way ticket and a onetime travel document, making acquisition of Australian citizenship a necessity.”
Since 2013, efforts by the Liberian community in Australia to petition the Sirleaf Administration to establish a consulate has yielded nothing but frustrations, Rev. Kruah indicated, noting “Returning Liberians must send their passports to Japan and UK or obtain visas for Ghana to visit their families.”
“Liberians in the USA must pay visa fees of US$130-$400 to visit their families, causing economic strain on families at home and abroad. On the other hand, citizens of the ECOWAS region in West Africa with an estimated population of 300 million people are exempt from paying visa fees when they travel to Liberia,” he said.
While the Liberian government has been unsuccessful to advance "Dual Citizenship" for the Liberian Diaspora in the past decade, he said there are no tangible business incentives for members of the Liberian Diaspora to enter the private sector, establish new businesses and hire their fellow countrymen.
“Those desirous of returning are required to pay visa fees, which is an extra financial burden for families,” he indicated.
Rev. Krua recently joined hundreds of democracy activists from around the world attending the Citizen University annual conference. Citizen University, founded by Eric Liu, works with a national array of partners to help cultivate the values, systems knowledge, and skills of effective democratic citizenship.