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Cablegate: This, Too, Is Liberia: February 25, 2010

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DE RUEHMV #0250/01 0561712
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R 251711Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY MONROVIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0079
INFO RUEHMV/AMEMBASSY MONROVIA

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DEPT FOR AF/W NGAREY AND INR/AA BGRAVES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV EAID ECON EFIN EMIN LI
SUBJECT: THIS, TOO, IS LIBERIA: FEBRUARY 25, 2010

REF: 10 MONROVIA 202

1. (U) This round-up cable, named after a popular daily feature in
a local newspaper, covers the following topics:

--DEATH OF ADOPTED LIBERIAN ELICITS STRONG REACTION

--TSA CONDUCTS FINAL PRE-ASSESSMENT MISSION

--TONY BLAIR ADVISES PRESIDENT'S OFFICE

--NEW HEAD OF FORESTRY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY APPOINTED

--SPRAYING FOR CONTROL OF MALARIA

--PRIVATE U.S. PHILANTHROPISTS VISIT LIBERIA

2. (SBU) DEATH OF ADOPTED LIBERIAN ELICITS STRONG REACTION: News
reports about the murder of an adopted Liberian girl in California
by her adoptive parents have provoked a public condemnation of the
incident by the GOL. The statement was interesting for having
included continued support for international adoption in spite of
this tragedy. Press reports spanned several days, citing outrage
from the GOL. The consular section has been working with the
Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) officials since
September 2009 to review current adoption cases in order to allow
on-going cases that have been held up to be processed. Members of
the GOL's Ad-hoc adoption committee have told conoff that the GOL
is still committed to inter-country adoptions but that they would
like more information on how such an unfortunate situation could
have come about. In light of this incident they were clear that
there would be no new cases (those without full and final
adoptions) approved until the revised law on adoptions is passed
and implemented.

3. (SBU) TSA CONDUCTS FINAL PRE-ASSESSMENT MISSION: The
Transportation Security Administration's (TSA) ASSIST team visited
Liberia February 15-18 to provide technical assistance to address
deficiencies in aviation safety and security in advance of a full
assessment scheduled for March 22-26. Next month's assessment will
determine whether Roberts International Airport can support direct
flights from the U.S., but TSA continues to find GOL commitment
lacking. TSA repeatedly urged the Liberia Civil Aviation Authority
(LCAA) to improve employee screening, produce and disseminate a
national employees training program and mend holes in the airport's
perimeter fence over several monthly visits. TSA observed that the
LCAA has yet to make any progress on any of these International
Civil Aviation Organization standards. All are pre-requisites for
direct flights.

4. (SBU) TONY BLAIR ADVISES PRESIDENT'S OFFICE: Former British
Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Monrovia February 22-23 to launch
a new African Governance Initiative (AGI) project aimed at building
capacity in President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's Executive Mansion.
In a February 23 meeting with Ambassador, Blair explained that the
AGI assistance to the president's office will focus on limiting
priorities, and building staff efficiency, organization and
communication skills. Blair said the Executive Mansion's
ostensible "400 priorities" should be limited to four: providing
electricity, building roads, rebuilding the Port of Monrovia, and
providing jobs. Blair told the Ambassador that the Executive
Mansion had good staff, but they are only one-to-two deep. Blair's
foundation will assist staff to better schedule President Sirleaf's
time, mostly by restricting appointments, but President Sirleaf
needs to give them more decision-making authority. Blair and the
Ambassador agreed that a more proactive communication strategy by
the GOL, including better use of newspapers and radio stations, is
an important plank in the strategy. President Sirleaf will appoint
presidential advisor Patrick Sendolo to head a "Delivery Unit" to
work with the Foundation and ensure progress. Funding for this
assistance will be provided by Blair's foundation and the Soros
Foundation.

5. (U) NEW HEAD OF FORESTRY DEVELOPMENT AGENCY APPOINTED: President
Sirleaf has nominated Manager for Community Forestry Moses Wogbeh
to replace John Woods as the new Managing Director of the Forestry
Development Authority (FDA). Under Woods' leadership, the FDA
struggled to create a forestry sector that balanced community

rights, sustainable forest management practices, and the need to
generate revenue from commercial forestry. Wogbeh's background in
community forestry and his strong working relationship with the
U.S. Forest Service through USAID could signal an inclination to
readjust the balance between commercial forestry and conservation,
while his 24-year tenure at the FDA and alliance with a static "old
guard" culture at that agency may prompt him to continue the
policies of his predecessor. Wogbeh's nomination is pending
approval by the National Legislature.

6. (U) SPRAYING FOR CONTROL OF MALARIA: After an intensive review
of scientific studies and test results conducted in Liberia, the
Ministry of Health & Social Welfare (MOHSW) agreed this week with
the President's Malaria Initiative on the insecticides to be used
in future household spraying activities. DDT was considered, but
the MOHSW agreed with USAID technical team recommendations that the
class of chemicals known as pyrethroids was the best choice for
Liberia. This should allow the indoor residual spray program to
move ahead with plans to spray 50,000 households in the coming four
months, enough to protect 300,000 Liberians from malaria-carrying
mosquitoes.

7. (U) PRIVATE U.S. PHILANTHROPISTS VISIT LIBERIA:

The Ambassador and USAID staff met with two visiting health
education teams on February 17. A team from the University of
Duquesne (PA) is interested in exploring student and faculty
exchanges to further health education in both countries, and a team
from Hospitals of Hope is providing technical equipment and other
services to Liberian hospitals. The Duquesne group explained that
a private philanthropist is supporting efforts to bring U.S. health
care providers to Liberia in exchange for study tours to the
University Hospital and clinics for promising Liberian students, as
well as technical expertise to increase lighting, energy efficiency
and improve safety. Hospitals of Hope wants to expand its
assistance and bring badly needed diagnostic and other medical
equipment to selected Liberian facilities. The Ambassador
emphasized the huge need for health technology following the
destructive civil conflict and the importance of close
collaboration with the Ministry of Health. USAID offered its
network of contacts and technical assessments as contributions to
their commendable efforts.
THOMAS-GREENFIELD

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