CDC, LP and NPP Joint Response to the President’s Annual Report on the State of the Republic
On February 9, 2009
On January 26, 2009, the President appeared before the Joint Session of the Fifty Second Legislature to present the legislative agenda of the administration and report on the state of the Republic, as is required by the constitution. Today, we of the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC), the Liberty Party (LP) and the National Patriotic Party (NPP) appear before you, the Liberian people, to respond to the President’s Annual Report on the State of the Republic, as is expected by sound democratic practice.
We begin by expressing our gratitude to the Almighty God for His manifold blessings bestowed upon our Republic. We pray that He, in spite of our failings, will continue to bless our land. We are also thankful to the United Nations, other friendly governments and peoples of the region and the world for the assistance and support they continue to provide to sustain Liberia’s relative peace, security and stability. Admittedly, the various contributions ranging from debt waivers to infrastructural development; from capacity and peace building to long-term development initiatives provide a ray of hope in an environment beset by hopelessness. Nevertheless, we know that the business of improving the wellbeing of our people and returning our country to its respected seat around the family table of the world is a challenge that Liberians must face together. We thank the administration for its stewardship.
Fellow Citizens: Article 58 of the Liberian Constitution requires the President to report annually on the state of the Republic. In these difficult times, we expected the President’s report to offer us reasons for sober national reflection and introspection; rally the country to a common cause; and present a clear vision which encourages us to believe that our tomorrow will be better than our today. The report on the State of the Republic is the occasion to convince our citizens and residents alike that the leadership understands the problems of the people, and has developed a plan to begin to address the difficulties.
Sadly, the President’s Annual Report on the State of the Republic is noteworthy for what she did not say, than for what she did say. The report, long on self praises and self congratulations, is disappointingly short on the real story of ordinary Liberians and Liberia. The report gives the impression that all is well with our Republic. In fulfillment of our solemn duty to you, our people, we are compelled to disagree with the President, and report that in fact, all is not well with our Republic. The state of our Republic is, at best, fragile. The government is mired in scandals and corruption; the process of national reconciliation and healing appears to be running out of control with the government being either unwilling or unable to lead on this important national project; armed robbery and other violent crimes are on the rise; more and more ghettos are opening across the Capital where dangerous drugs are being sold to our young people; the gap is getting wider between promises that are made and promises that are kept; commissions, funded by tax-payers dollars have become the excuse for the inaction and indecisiveness of the Executive; Liberians are still without effective control of their economy; the political environment is suffocating from the air of frustration and disillusionment; political patronage, nepotism and cronyism have, in some cases replaced competence and taken over the bureaucracy; the administration appears intoxicated with the trappings of power and bent on returning Liberia to its shamefully divisive ways of old. Atop it all, is an Executive that has squandered more good will from its people in less time than any government in our history. In truth, all is not well.
We also wish to draw attention to and remind the Executive that according to Article 58, “In presenting the economic condition of the Republic the report shall cover expenditure as well as income.” Here, our understanding of the framers’ intent is to present to the people through their direct representatives, an intelligible accounting of the administration of the budget by the Executive over the reporting period. This report of expenditure and income does not only effectively conclude the previous budgetary cycle but also identifies areas of manifest weaknesses and strengths, facilitates the needed administrative processes of backstopping delineating what has worked and what is not working, sourcing out reasons for lapses or underperformance while clearly offering a true picture of the economy. Even more importantly, juxtaposing income and expenditure in the report of the economic condition of the country impresses such report with increased credibility, integrity, transparency, and makes for an independent assessment of progress or lack thereof over the reporting period.
Fellow Liberians: We believe that one of the most important jobs of our President, at this time, is a clear and simple articulation of a vision for the direction of the country. Over her lengthy address, the Liberian President found less than a minute to talk about her vision for the country. Strangely, in a country where majority of our people are either outright illiterate or functionally so, for her vision, the President referred to the Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS). Here again, we are struck by a number of concerns. First of all, a strategy is not and should never be confused for a vision. Secondly, the Poverty Reduction Strategy is a document borne out of a cut and paste editorial regime which even the President’s cabinet admits to having a hard time understanding and implementing. No wonder therefore, the President concluded that after more than three years of her leadership, her vision and commitment “can only be achieved when the majority of our people share in the vision and are willing to participate positively and constructively in the processes of reform and change.” Already, the people are being blamed for not achieving the ‘vision’. We have heard this all before. It is the usual excuse given by leaders who fail to enroll the people in a vision that is communicated in clear and simple terms. It is a travesty of leadership transformational or transactional to lead where no one follows.
Of course Liberians will bear any hardship; undertake any sacrifice; and walk any distance that their leader asks of them provided they know the direction in which the leadership is itself headed. Time and again, Liberians have shown that they are capable of meeting challenges and making the needed sacrifices for their common good. Especially over the last three years, from Liberians and the international community, this administration has and continues to be the recipient of enormous supply of goodwill that should encourage the realization of any vision for Liberia. However, what is in enormously short supply is a clear vision communicated by an honest and determined leadership.
THE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA
Again, in laying out her development agenda, the President appears to be lost in her own wishful thinking and divorced from the harsh reality that is today’s Liberia. Our people are catching hard time. They are tired of the usual annual messages of empty praises and broken promises. So, let us offer a few agenda items that will make their burdens lighter. Liberians need a Master Plan to an economy that offers every qualified Liberian a job. Our tax system must be attractive to foreign capital investments and incentivize the growth of the private sector especially in the areas of job creation. The government has to increase its interests in helping families across the country educate their children and improve opportunities for better living wages and conditions. In this regards, it is time we expanded the services of the University of Liberia within reach of rural Liberia. It is okay to patch our roads in the capital but it is now imperative that we develop a master plan on infrastructure that connects every town and village. Liberia is far more than Monrovia. Our people need a vision that puts clinics and hospitals within their reach and that they will be able to afford such services. Infant mortality is still too high and our current health care delivery system is incapable of dealing with epidemics and other outbreaks of diseases. Liberians need a vision that ensures finally that all of us are equal under the same laws and will benefit equally from its unbiased administration. Liberians need a development agenda that adds value to their shared ownership of the land.
When a government promises “zero tolerance” on corruption, our people expect that the government will mean what it says and actually do something about corruption in high places. The Liberian people need real hope, by serious examples and not mere words that the administration is serious about building a new Liberia. We must end the culture of impunity, where few are happy at the expense of the many. Nepotism, political patronage and cronyism must come to an end. We must collectively exhale with a renewed sense of hope that we are truly journeying together as one people to build our one nation, irrespective of our tribal and or political affiliations. Failing to articulate a clear and simple vision for the country which attempts to provide some answers to these questions and other concerns rendered useless the self congratulations that punctuated the entire report.
Peace and Security
Fellow Citizens: While the President is basking in her own glowing praise of the security sector, in terms of meeting and exceeding recruitment and training goals, the International Crisis Group (ICGL), a renowned international organization that has been engaged in conflict management and resolution in Liberia, issued a report, days before the President’s message that made the following observations:
“…..More worrying, the police are still widely considered ineffective and corrupt. Both ordinary citizens and President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf have blamed a recent spate of armed robberies on their poor performance. They have been recruited, vetted and trained to a far lower standard than the army. Training of the paramilitary ERU may address some problems, but others have more to do with basic issues of poor management, lack of equipment and dismal community relations. There also appears to be inadequate realization that successful police reform can only be sustained if it is linked to an effective judiciary that enforces the rule of law fairly and effectively to protect individual rights and assure citizen security. This has led to the growth of vigilantism and disrespect of police in Monrovia and elsewhere. The police desperately need a combination of managerial expertise, strategic vision and (only then) a major increase in budget. The challenge facing the government and donors is the transition from external partner to sovereign state responsibilities. To this point, the Johnson-Sirleaf government has been largely happy to leave the reform of its army and police to others…” LIBERIA: UNEVEN PROGRESS IN SECURITY SECTOR REFORM. Africa Report N°148 13 January 2009, p. 4.
Moreover, the report goes on to state,
“…..The most troubling issues regarding the LNP’s ability to build for the future relate to upper management. While opinions regarding Inspector General Beatrice Munah Sieh vary widely, there was consistent criticism of those just below her. Deficiencies in human resources management, accounting and budgeting, procurement and logistics were described as “serious” and “dire”. Many in Monrovia suggested there was reluctance within the police hierarchy and at the higher levels of government to address these problems consequentially.” Ibid. p. 24.
Of course this assessment speaks realistically to the average Liberian, who lives daily under the threat of violence from armed robbers or corrupt security forces. The reluctance of the administration to deal with the management deficiencies identified in the report is a reluctance that permeates all sectors of this administration and has even stalled the war on corruption. All Liberians and residents, especially of Monrovia and its environs know that as dusk envelops the city of Monrovia and other urban areas, families huddle against the real threats to their lives and properties by armed robbers and corrupt security officials. People are off the streets earlier than usual. Public transports are becoming increasingly unsafe and the use of cell phones in some public places invites harm to the user.
Some of these problems can be traced to the inadequacies in tackling the DDRR process, and impacts our citizens directly. In spite of the fact that the President is winding down the NCDDRR program by midyear, armed robbery is now on the rise. This exposes a serious flaw in the philosophy and approach to disarmament and rehabilitation of former fighters. Since 2005, the opposition political parties have continued to pronounce as a policy priority, the integration of former fighters into non-combat military units. International experience bears us out in this regard. In its report, the International Crisis Group pointed to the consequences of not meaningfully engaging ex-combatants:
“Unemployed youths remain a major security worry. Unlike disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) processes in other countries, recruitment into the new army was not used to absorb ex-combatants. This led to high levels of unemployment and frustration. The crime rate and periodic threats of violence have subsequently posed major problems for the police and UN peacekeepers (UNMIL), who have had to contain large, violent uprisings in December 2003, October 2004 and December 2005, as well as many smaller ones.” Ibid. p. 10
Had these ex-combatants been integrated into a civil brigade, they would have comprised the first line of deployment to help citizens in spraying, combating and evacuating the recent onslaught on the army worms for which the President has now declared a state of emergency.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen: The President identified a three prong program to tackle economic revitalization: infrastructure rebuilding, reviving the natural resource sector and reducing the cost of production. The government just seems to find its footing on the area of infrastructure, although, much needs to be desired by way of policy. After three years, we are still relying on a hodgepodge of street repairs in central Monrovia, as the mainstay of our infrastructure rebuilding program. A number of our towns and villages are inaccessible by road and a host of our people effectively shut out and isolated. Indeed much of rural Liberia is still cut off from Monrovia during the raining season. Three years on, there is no comprehensive master plan for complete, reliable and efficient manner of electricity and water distribution to Monrovia and greater Liberia. Here again, the vision is lacking. This lack of vision is now being compensated for by an ad hoc and trial and error gambit of rebuilding our infrastructure.
While reviving the natural resource sector is commendable, we must guard against the twin evils that stalk this kind of economic revitalization. At first is the failure to heed the lessons of the past. Liberia, and Africa, is a land blessed with an abundance of natural resources. We have had extractive industries. It is now time that we present ourselves as worthy stewards of these natural endowments. If we are to start logging again, then there must be an intermediate and long term plan to build industries that process and manufacture finished products to be labeled and styled made in Liberia. We must move from mere extraction to manufacturing and industrialization. If we do this, the labor capacity of our people will be enhanced, economic diversification will occur and employment will be available in all regions and all sectors of our country. The same can be said of our extractive rubber and mining industries. Here, short-sighted visionaries have limited their horizons only to the periods of the wholesale mining and extractions. What we have inherited for such short-sightedness are numerous holes in the ground and flood prone areas. There have been nominal long-term national benefits accrued from these extractions. Today, our sights must be set much higher we must look further into the future. Our people and their villages and towns deserve much better.
The second evil is the lack of conservation and environmental awareness. Liberia is a member of the family of the world. The world is beset with threats of global warming and other environmental issues. We cannot continue to ignore these threats to the future of the earth and pretend that we are or will be unaffected. Accordingly, logging and mining must be carried out in environmentally sound and friendly ways, so that we avoid unintended consequences that would contribute to destroying the ecosystems while saving our planet for healthy habitations by future generations. We hereby call for a reduction in the number of concessions areas up for logging and the shortening of the periods of extraction.
The President’s final economic revitalization prong gets lost in her accolades about debt management and increased revenue. We hasten to point out our observation that the economic cost of production will remain high as long as we continue to have poor infrastructure and archaic banking practices that makes the cost of money and credit extremely high. Additionally, we cannot continue to ignore, public or privately, the current global economic recession. We ought to begin stimulating existing businesses, especially Liberian owned and reducing some of the bureaucratic bottlenecks and constraints.
The President devotes much time to figures about debt relief and increase in revenue. We continue to give the President and former Finance Minister Sayeh credit for the assiduous work done in the area of debt relief. Notwithstanding, in the areas of debt relief and increase in revenue, the government efforts must be lauded cautiously. Firstly, we recall that much of the international regimes which exist for the monitoring or revitalization of the Liberian economy, notably GEMAP, were put in place during the transitional government under the leadership of Chairman Gyude Bryant. By all accounts, the government seems to be making slow progress in accommodating the goals and objectives of the international community. Secondly, we recognize that the international community is not hung on personalities but institutions and systems. As long as the lack of good governance policies and sound management practices continue to plague our institutions and systems, progress in the area of foreign investments and Liberia’s assimilation into the global economy will be slow and sometimes elusive.
GOVERNANCE AND THE RULE OF LAW
Fellow Liberians: During the past year, good governance and the rule of law suffered a major setback in what can only be called, ‘corruption, corruption, corruption.’ The President makes two fatal errors in the fight against corruption. First, she says her government is not more corrupt it only appears so because there is more reporting on the matter. This premise is offensive. Liberians have never needed media reports to tell them they are witnessing corruption nor to feel its impact. Indeed, we had one military coup and two wars whose principal reasons were allegations of corruption. Even where internal sources were unable to report on the level of corruption in previous governments, external sources have reported extensively. During the just ended transitional government, allegations of corruption were reported extensively.
Secondly, the president has taken the approach and wishes the Liberian people to believe that corruption exists only among low level bureaucrats. The only cabinet reshuffles and corruption prosecutions, if ever at all, occur at that level. It is the small bureaucrats who engage in petty corruption and are not a part of the presidential patronage system that gets thrown to the wolves and made exemplars of, in the government’s so-called war against corruption. This attitude and approach can lead to only one result, in the “zero tolerance” policy on corruption a crushing defeat for the administration. The President will continue to suffer defeat in this so-called war against corruption, as long as impunity in high places remains aided and abetted by silence and patronage from the Executive.
Contrary to our advice, the President issued Executive Order #15 to investigate the email scandal now dubbed Knucklesgate II. Make no mistake. This email scandal is a defining moment in the life of this administration. It was the dagger which sucked the last breath out of the fight against corruption and exposed the deceit and hypocrisy with which this administration always attended the fight against corruption. When the scandal which involved the Office of President and members of her first family broke, we wrote, counseled and hoped that an investigation of the serious allegations be carried out under the auspices of the Legislature by an internationally respected independent prosecutor. Instead, the President chose to appoint her longtime associate, Dr. Elwood Dunn, to head the investigation. The resultant report, its handling and aftermath proved us correct and have created more questions than it answered.
At the height of this scandal is presidential cronyism, nepotism and high crimes and misdemeanors. The Dunn Commission ignored the findings of its own international investigators and attempted to exonerate those close to the President. We discovered further that a computer in the residence of the President has a questionable transaction on it. The President’s sister, brother in law, and a close personal friend have all had to give interviews or issued statements, sometimes conflicting with other accounts or each other. The only thing we do know is that the full report has not yet been released. The government has not released fully the appendices to the report which contained interviews with witnesses or certain documents and emails that were examined that led the Dunn Commission to disregard the findings of its own investigators and issue a report that now seems contrary to the undisputed facts.
We can make no progress in the rule of law if the law only applies to “little people,” and the powerful can do whatever they want with impunity. All of the President’s musings about good governance and the rule of law will fall flat until the Liberian people know the full and unvarnished truth of what was happening at the President’s house, with her computer, among her friends and family. This matter will not go away until the truth is fully known. That is why we now support calls for a select legislative panel to investigate this matter. We must caution that any legislative involvement must be at the level of issuing subpoenas for the full report including appendices and notes used by the commission for the purpose of turning it over to international investigators empowered by the legislature to fully and comprehensively investigate this matter.
We observed that the President singled out her new maritime team for commendation. However, we must not forget that the agent of the registry has played a major role in the success of the registry so far. It is time to stop vilifying the registry’s agent and sign a new contract so that those who rely on the Liberian shipping brand around the world can have confidence that they can continue doing business with Liberia. That is why it was particularly disappointing to learn that certain higher ups in government and influence peddlers outside the government were engaged in lobbying efforts to secure competitive partnerships for their personal gains. The Liberian people deserve to know the full extent of these efforts which were aimed at undermining the national security interests of the country. Although the efforts of Dr. Charles Clarke, Chairman of the ruling Unity Party and Ambassador Dew Mayson were condemned by the Dunn Commission, we find that Cllr. Estrada J. Bernard, brother-in-law of the President and Legal and National Security Advisor to the President, had at least four email contacts with the head of the group courted by Dr. Clarke to interfere with the contract negotiations. Cllr. Bernard was neither condemned nor asked to be questioned further by the anti-corruption commission, as was Clarke and Mayson. It is time we dealt with the Liberian registry as the important national asset that it is.
ONE PEOPLE, ONE NATION
A lot has and continues to be said about our need as Liberians to journey together in building one nation. We note that for far too long, indeed since independence, Liberian leaders have been haunted by the mistaken proposition that a nation can be built and sustained by a few for the many. Over the course of our history, repeated attempts at nation building by successive administrations, on this wholly unfounded notion have, over time, supplanted on the national consciousness, the degenerating belief that someone, anyone, other than all Liberians has the responsibility of building our nation. Some of our previous leaders have even announced the dawn of a first, second and third republic. Each attempt has been greeted and subsequently assessed with basically the same result failure.
As one leader after the other failed, especially in enrolling the people in the nation-building process, the various sub-cultural nations that make up our land space have grown increasingly suspicious of the intentions of the State. Consequently, they have receded ever further into parochial tribal enclaves which affords them a sense of belonging, safety, sanctuary and the closest to what should amount to a sense of genuine national pride and identity. In these mushrooming tribal enclaves, often with very limited facilities, the people experience stronger affinities and journey together, in the interests of only their respective tribal groupings. In effect, the historic dream of one people, one nation has sadly withered into a slogan without meaning and currency.
In the history of the world, no nation has been successfully built; no peoples have journeyed together without a shared sense of common purpose and identity. Usually, these nations recognize the force of their commonalities first as human beings possessive of the same faculties and rights; respected for their aspirations, unique history and innate attributes; deserving of the same benevolence from Deity; and desirous of sharing in the same wishes of peaceful coexistence, security, and equal opportunities for themselves and their children. And secondly, they forge a strong bond of commonality out of their shared experiences of wars and disaster where, suffering together, they recommit themselves to never again pursue such paths. Where people suffer together, persevere, and overcome, a special bond is usually developed. Leaderships interested in visions of nation-building must resist the temptations, at such moments, to exact revenge and return to the divisive ways of old. Such leaderships must accordingly, redirect their energies to reconciling the country and utilizing the opportunities provided to strengthen a sense of common purpose and identity. Here, again, the enormous goodwill of the Liberian people and the opportunities provided has been squandered by this leadership.
In respect of our continued quest for nation-building, we draw urgent attention to the following:
1. To journey together as one people requires journeying under one set of laws to which all are equal subjects and equal beneficiaries
2. To undertake programs and policies that forge a stronger sense of common purpose and identity
3. To commit to an awakening of the slumbering level of political consciousness and broaden the participation of Liberians in decisions affecting their lives and wellbeing, especially at the local community and district levels
And lastly, for fear of wandering off the course of our journey together, we must develop a comprehensive road map known and available to all. While the map inevitably points the way to our proverbial ‘shining city on the hill’, it must indicate the twists and turns the people are expected to encounter the dusty roads and the thorny paths; the deep valleys and the steep mountains. It must call on all Liberians, and by the persuasion of the examples of our leaders summon us to look ahead even as we traverse the difficult paths. At all times, it is important, especially for a people whose hopes have been repeatedly dashed by their leaders, to assuage their apprehensions and suspicions not just by verbal reassurances but also by the seriousness of actions. Serious leaders influence by the decisiveness of their actions first, that they understand the sacrifices that they require of the people, and second, that they are similarly prepared to make the same sacrifices.
WE REMAIN COMMITTED
Over the past year, we have engaged the public square variously to bring the government to book whenever it engages in acts inimical to the public interests. We see this as our constitutional role to keep the government honest. As one of such examples, most recently, the Liberty Party exposed the use of disembarkment cards to promote private interests. For these and other criticisms, we have been labeled as angry, hateful, and lacking in courage to journey into a new Liberia. The President informed the country that our only wish is to return the country to a state of lawlessness, indiscipline and plunder.
To brand the divergent views of others, in a democracy, as borne of hate and anger, and lacking the will and courage to journey into a new Liberia simply on account of the unease and discomfort that those views afford is, to put it simply, dangerous. No journey should ever be commenced nor should we ever seek to establish a new Liberia which entreats disagreeable views with such public scorn, rebuke, alarm and contempt. Some to whom these aspersions were directed continue to wear the scars of bravery, fortitude and courage that created the enabling space for the current political dispensation. Make no mistakes all Liberians are stakeholders in a peaceful, secure, prosperous and stable environment, and must be respected as such. However, all Liberians need not join in a chorus of cheers and praise-singing either out of fear that they will be branded as hate-filled, lawless, indiscipline and angry or as a measure of their courage and commitment to building a peaceful, secured, and prosperous society.
It is time this government eschewed the politics of unwarranted aspersions and divisive rhetoric. We painfully recall the unfounded and mistaken notion adopted and pursued by governing elites of the past, which in effect suggests that the aspirations of the people can only be borne or understood by a select group, party or individual. This profoundly erroneous notion awarded leadership to a few and encumbered the majority with servitude. The privileged few then proceeded to constrict the space for so-called dissenting, hateful and angry voices. This is a deprecating relic of the past that we will today, do well to remove from the body politic. The lessons of our recent tragedies suggest, in no small measure that the plunder, lawlessness and indiscipline which characterized the recent experiences of the country were actually catalyzed by this insidious and decrepit notion that only one group or individual knows best what is in the interests of all the people.
At this critical transitional stage in our political development, what we together must seek is the establishment of solid foundations upon which a genuinely peaceful, secured and stable society, capable of withstanding the combat of ideas or the challenges of disagreements, without seeming disagreeable or having one’s citizenship and patriotism questioned, can be built and sustained. It is wrong, and we are uninterested in constructing mirages of short-term peace and so-called security that are not just difficult to sustain but also essentially undermining of our shared aspirations for strengthening the roots of democracy across our country. Actually, real and true courage is in the unwavering ability to say truth to power and offer disagreements to those who exercise authority and influence over you. Real and true courage is in the ability to hold and express an opinion which the beholder believes to be in the best long-term interests of the country, although it may seem unpopular in the short-term, or that the “majority” might find it to be disagreeable and unpatriotic. The costs that have been paid to get us here have been too high to afford a reversal of the clock.
Of course, we should disagree and be encouraged to disagree on how we seek to give realization to the aspirations of the people for a peaceful and stable society of shared prosperity and equal opportunities. For, we are wise to adhere to the settled truth that where all think alike, no one thinks at all. Furthermore, it is instructive to note that the virtues of democracy is not as respected because it merely adheres to the will of the majority as much as it affords and accords respect and protection to the wishes and expressions of the minority. Our experiences are too recent, our democracy too young, and our motivations for a new beginning too strong to shut out and shoot down the views of others however disagreeable they may seem.
As such, we of the opposition will continue to honor our obligation and remain steadfast and committed to offering a different vision for Liberia’s future. Ours will be a vision that avoids the pitfalls that this government is so determined to fall into.
On its three year mark, the government that was ushered in with such hope and promise is moving at a snail’s pace in making sure that all of our people enjoy the peace dividends: whether it is in the area of jobs, education, personal security or health care. The few successes it can boast of relies more on international handouts than domestic hands up. In the area of security, UNMIL is there; in the area of economic revival, international debt relief; in the area of infrastructure, ad hoc international arrangements. On those things that we ought to and can do for ourselves like providing jobs and finally bringing the rule of law to our country, the government remains mired and paralyzed in the self inflicted wounds of defeat in its declared war on corruption. The president can stand in official circles, secured in pomp and pageantry, and heap praises and self congratulations on herself and her government. It still will not remove the painful expressions of hardships and the worsening effects of the misery index, etched on the faces of average Liberians that we see every day. They continue to ask, three years on, “….when will papa come home?”