The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, through its Embassy in Monrovia and in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), has awarded scholarships to 15 Ivorian refugees to pursue higher education at various tertiary institutions across the country.
The scholarships were awarded to the refugees on March 18, but the second batch of 18 refugees has already been identified for the 2014-2015 academic year scholarships scheme.
The scholarships, according to a statement, are from the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative (DAFI), or the Deutsche Akademische Fluchtiings Initiatives Scholarship, and were awarded to deserving refugees studying at various universities and colleges. Those institutions include the University of Liberia, United Methodist University, Stella Maris Polytechnic, and the Sanniquellie-based Nimba County Community College (NCCC).
Under the DAFI scholarships scheme, refugees would receive tuition, housing and transportation allowances, and scholarship materials like clothing and food.
The DAFI program currently supports more than 2, 200 refugees from 39 countries around the world.
According to Khassim Diagne, the UNHCR has vast interest in the education of refugees, but unfortunately, “the UNCHR does not usually have the funding to support refugees at the tertiary or higher level of education,”
Therefore, the UNHCR has expressed its gratefulness to the German government for the contribution of scholarships to the Ivorian refugee program, which they described as being ‘significant.’
They also expressed gratitude to the Liberian Government for its continued support to the UNHCR’s activities in the country.
For his part, the executive director of the Liberian Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), Cllr. Abla G. Williams, has commended the German government for assisting refugees with a “window of opportunity to the future.”
Speaking earlier on the scholarships scheme, German Ambassador to Liberia, Ralph Timmermann, said the scholarship program is named after German-born theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, who won the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics, and was a refugee.
“Refugees have enormous potential,” the German envoy said, “Urging the scholarship recipients to make the best of the opportunity and to eventually return to La Cote d’Ivoire and contribute to its development.”
On behalf of the scholarship recipients, a Sociology and Peace Studies student at the UMU, Dro G. Gervais, expressed their gratefulness to the German government for aiding their quest to acquire quality education.
During Liberia’s decade-long civil crisis, dozens of Liberian refugees benefited from the DAFI scholarship program while in countries of asylum. Most of them have now returned home and are gainfully employed in various ministries and agencies.
Among them is William Sheldrick Marshall, who gave many refugees a source of hope and changed their lives.
The scholarship ceremony was attended by a representative of the Special Emergency Activity to Restore Children’s Hope (SEARCH), Sondah Geepea Wilson. SEARCH is being selected by DAFI to implement the scholarship program.