Defence for Children International (DCI-Liberia), a local non-governmental organization that advocates for juvenile and vulnerable youth, has reunited nine Sierra Leoneans with their family members in that neighboring country.
The nine include Joseph Bongay, 21; Joseph M. Lambio, 20; Mary Kpassawa, 19; Rebecca Sessay, 18; Madalyn Sessay, 15; Edward Sessay, 12; Matilda Sessay, 10; Kadiatu Lambor, 18; and Tenneh Bongay, 11.
DCI-Liberia Executive Director, Cllr. Foday M. Kawah, who presented the youth to Sierra Leonean Immigration authorities on October 6 at the Jedema Border, said those youths were unaccompanied minors who traveled to Liberia some years back for greener pastures, but found it difficult to return to their homeland, having realized that they would want to go home.
Prior to facilitating their return to Sierra Leone, Cllr. Kawah said DCI-Liberia initiated a strategy with a partnering group to trace the right parents of the youths, to ensure that they are handed over without any problem.
“This is the first of its kind, and we have a total of 33 youth who have expressed interest in returning to Sierra Leone. We could not get all of them here today, because of our limited capacity to trace the parents of many of them,” Cllr. Kawah said.
DCI-Liberia, according to Kawah, was conducting training in Grand Cape Mount County where they identified the unaccompanied minors, who expressed interest in returning home.
Cllr. Kawah said besides their wish of returning to their country of nativity, the unaccompanied youth expressed eagerness for education, because the situation in Liberia could not permit some of them to continue their academic activities.
Mohammed Abdullai Kamara, Immigration Officer-in-Charge of Sierra Leone at the Liberia-Sierra Leone border, said he was quite convinced that those youth were true Sierra Leonean nationals as evidenced by their mother tongue and names.
Furthermore, interviews conducted with them indicated that they know their home towns and villages and are knowledgeable of customs and traditions of that country.
Kamara expressed gratitude to his Liberian counterpart for the humanitarian service rendered the Sierra Leonean nationals and hoped that such collaboration will continue between them.
Kadiatu Lambor, one of the returnees, explained that she and her siblings came with their father (not named) to Liberia in 2007 but that their father died.
Since the death of their father, Kadiatu and her siblings had been finding it difficult to survive; something which, she said, led her sister to have a child at an early age.
Joseph Bongay also had a similar encounter when he and his father (not named) came to Liberia and his father died. Joseph struggled to survive and had been helped by other residents in Cape Mount where he had been living until the weekend exercise.
He, like the rest who spoke to this newspaper, said that they could remember relatives of their parents in Sierra Leone and rejoining them will provide the liberty of being back home.
DCI-Liberia, having received a grant from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), has begun work in Grand Cape Mount, Bomi and Montserrado counties.
It advocates for juvenile justice and traces vulnerable youth that can be reunited with their parents amid reports of human-trafficking in the West African sub-region.