On June 26, communities all over the world, including in Liberia, mark International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, also called World Drug Day. Created by the United Nations on December 7, 1987, this day, provides an opportunity to increase awareness about the negative impact of illicit drugs.
The theme of World Drug Day 2023 is “People first: stop stigma and discrimination, strengthen prevention.” The Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency’s (LDEA) annual practice of holding a drug-burning exercise at Disco Hill, which also served as the cremation ground during the Ebola crisis, is a somber reminder that substance use disorders and drug trafficking do not disappear during crises and that communities in crisis—suffering from war, epidemics, or other disasters—struggle even more to recover when illicit drugs are present.
In his State of the Union address in 2023, President Biden announced increasing focus on disruption of illicit drug trafficking, expanding access to evidence-based prevention, harm reduction, treatment, and recovery, and ensuring every jail and prison across the U.S. can provide treatment for substance use disorders.
U.S. Embassy Monrovia salutes the focus on increasing prevention, treatment, and recovery services for those with substance use disorders. By recognizing that law enforcement actions are only part of any response, these efforts offer a glimmer of hope to those suffering from addiction, and for their families and communities. We reiterate that these developments must be evidence-based, properly resourced, and free of the stigmatizing “treatments” that we now know often make recovery harder and deprive individuals of the community support they need to fight addiction.
The primary duty of every government is to protect its citizens from threats, which include drug abuse and illicit trafficking. But it is also the responsibility of ordinary citizens to support efforts to educate Liberian youth about the dangers of drug abuse. To bolster the Government of Liberia’s efforts to improve drug demand reduction efforts as part of its narcotics response, the U.S. Embassy is training 105 trainers on the Universal Prevention and Universal Treatment Curriculum. We hope this evidence-based training improves Liberia’s response to substance use amongst its population.
The LDEA and its Liberian security partners are working to reduce the trafficking of narcotics in Liberia. The LDEA continues to seize and destroy illicit drugs that enter Liberia through its borders and international ports, reducing the negative impact of these drugs on the lives of Liberians. We encourage the LDEA and Liberian security institutions to continue to work together to combat illicit drug trafficking and to strengthen their efforts to earn the confidence and trust of the Liberian public. We hope that U.S. government funding of projects with the Carter Center, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and the Colombo Plan will help LDEA move forward as a credible and effective organization.
The United States is pleased to provide support for this year’s International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking commemoration. We will continue to work closely with the LDEA and other law enforcement agencies and the Ministry of Justice. Together, we can reduce drug abuse and illicit trafficking and help those who suffer from addiction successfully pursue recovery.