What happened in Liberia
In 1980 there was a coup d’étât led by Samuel Doe . This was followed by elections widely considered to be rigged. In 1989 after former Government minister Charles Taylor attempted to overthrow the government, civil war broke out. A simplistic explanation for the beginnings of the unrest is that freed slaves from America (who were settled in Liberia from 1822) implemented policies that discriminated against ethnic Liberians.
Joe’s family crossed the eastern border from Liberia on the West African Coast to neighbouring Ivory Coast ( Côte d’Ivoire) and after several years living under terrible duress as refugees, escaped north to Guinea which shares borders with both Liberia and Ivory Coast. Here's a map of the region.
Crisis in Ivory Coast
Ebola has been a catastrophic problem in West Africa, especially in Ivory Coast. The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR details its current priorities in the region here
A tough life in the camps in Guinea.
This article is more than ten years old, but details life in the camps run by the UNHCR in Guinea around the time that Joe and his family were there. This is the latest UNHCR report on Guinea.
Liberians are among the African refugee groups who are facing pressure to return to their country according to this report from the Refugee Council of Australia. The report - Australia’s Refugee and Humanitarian Program 2014-15 has this quote on Page 22 A Liberian community representative reported that “in some cases, I’ve heard that UNHCR
will just look at the [registration card] and say: ‘The war in your country has ceased. You have to go back home’. They don’t look at the persecution that person is facing at that point in time.”