Willing to Return: Ivorian Refugee Repatriation From Liberia tops 10,000
UNITED NATIONS HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR REFUGEES (UNHCR), 28 Jul 2013
Monrovia - More than 10,000 Ivorians who fled to Liberia more than two years ago following post-election violence in Côte d’Ivoire have returned home this year.
The refugees, mostly living in camps and communities in Grand Gedeh, Nimba, Maryland and River Gee Counties in Liberia, are returning to areas such as Toulepleu, Tabou and Danane in Côte d’Ivoire.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is facilitating the voluntary return of the refugees by organizing road convoys in collaboration with the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) and other partners. In Maryland County, the repatriating refugees cross the Cavalla river, the natural boundary between Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire, using the UNHCR barge.
“Last year, we facilitated the repatriation of slightly more than 5, 700 refugees. For this year, our planning figure is to facilitate the repatriation of 16,000 refugees. With 10,000 refugees repatriated over the past seven months notwithstanding border security concerns a few months ago, we are definitely on track to attain our target,” said a visibly delighted UNHCR Officer-in-Charge, Andrew Mbogori, thanking donors for supporting the repatriation efforts.
Over the past one year, repatriation of Ivorian refugees from Liberia had been interrupted by attacks on villages on the Ivorian side of the border and the killing of seven UN peacekeepers in June last year. “We welcome the improvement in border security which is encouraging more refugees to return and hope the security situation will continue to improve,” remarked Mbogori.
Deteriorating road conditions with ongoing seasonal rains are, however, new challenges to the repatriation process. “We are engaged in road rehabilitation activities, as well as working with partners such as the UN Mission in Liberia engineers to keep roads open. As long as we have refugees willing to return home, we want to ensure that we assist them to do so in safety and in dignity,” said UNHCR Head of Sub-office, Fatima Mohammed.
Upon return to Côte d’Ivoire, former refugees receive cash grant, food and non-food items. Liberia currently hosts more than 58, 000 Ivorian refugees