A nominee for Deputy Immigration Commissioner for Administration Col. Moses Yebleh says Liberia is left vulnerable to illegal immigrants, telling a Senate confirmation hearing that only 45 of the nation’s 176 entry points are properly protected by the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS).
Col. Yebleh told Senators on Capitol Hill Thursday, 1 March that the country has just 2,600 immigration officers to protect these entry points. “As we speak, we have 176 entry points into this country and out the 176 entry points into Liberia, we are covering effectively 45,” Col. Yebleh reveals.
He says LIS has a total of 2600 officers, out of which only a little over 1,000 are trained. According to him, 154 of the LIS officers were trained by the Ghana Immigration Service, while 150 others were trained locally.
“The current strength of the immigration is around 2,600 and out of this number a little over 1,000 plus that have been formally trained,” Col. Yebleh says. He observes that the LIS is under staffed, lacks logistics and low in budgetary allotment.
The immigration official told the Senate’s Committee on National Defense, Security and Veteran Affairs that though the presence of immigration officers are felt within the 15 counties here, the service however faces very serious challenges in terms of logistics to properly function within these counties.
He says LIS currently has 15 operational vehicles to protect the over 170 entry points across Liberia, noting that it causes serious embarrassment to the full operations of the service at these points.
Col. Yebleh reports that only eight counties have patrol vehicles, and adds that these are counties that are bordering neighboring countries.
In spite of the challenges, he says there are resident officers within all of the countries, noting that LIS is still managing to ensure that its mandates and functions are upheld properly.
He adds that the service also inherited some personnel who according to him were brought into the service as a result of the Ebola crisis in the country.
Meanwhile, Col. Yebleh says LIS is doing all it can in order to raise the necessary funding for the proper and formal training of the reaming officers so as to enable them execute the mandate of the service.
By E.J. Nathaniel Daygbor–Edited by Winston W. Parley