The civil war in Liberia started in December 1989 with the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) led by Charles Taylor invading from neighbouring Ivory Coast. The conflict would split government forces and the rebels into several factions resulting in a brutal war that ran for almost fourteen years (1989-96 and 1999-2003, with a election in between) and led to the death of more than 250,000 people and nearly 1 million displaced.

Loading Images

«From Logatour’s border post, between Liberia and the Ivory Coast, and down to the front line in the capital Monrovia, I passed at least 50 roadblocks, every one worse than the other.

‘Welcome to the Black Scorpions, Liberia’ it says on a wall of a house where someone has spiked human skulls painted orange and pink on top of a tall post. Armed with AK-47s and M-16s and dressed in everything from stolen cocktail dresses to ladies’ wigs and captured uniforms, is the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL), or the Black Scorpions, as they prefer to be called – a terrifying army. Starved and drugged, they beg for cigarettes, food, and dollars.

Rebel-leader, Charles Taylor, has started an offensive named ‘Operations Octopus’ to capture the Capital Monrovia. The battle of Monrovia is fought on four front lines and the rebel military advance surprised everyone except the rebels themselves.

I follow three boys, ‘The Young Presidents’, Washington, Wilson, and Truman, deeper and deeper into the madness of war. The front line is a shattered ‘no man’s land’ with nothing standing there, and begins with a burnt-out vehicle and a dead Nigerian soldier, whose boots has already been stolen»

Peter Strandberg | Monrovia, Liberia |1992