Authorities of the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) have disclosed plans to construct a transit camp for Liberians who may be deported from the United States of America (U.S.) . at the end of the Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) grace period in May, 2019.
It can be recalled that U.S. President Donald Trump recently ordered that Liberians who have lived in the U.S. without regularizing their residency status be repatriated this year. However, after intervention from authorities in the U.S. and an appeal from President George Weah to allow Liberians prepare properly before their departure, Trump rescinded his decision but set May 31, 2019, as the deadline.
Making the disclosure at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) recently, LRRRC executive director Festus R. B. Logan said approximately 3,600 Liberians who traveled to America for various reasons are expected back home. Therefore, his institution wants to construct a temporary home for them before they arrive.
“The U.S. government has reached a decision to end the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program that has allowed approximately 3,600 Liberians to stay in the U.S. for over two decades, giving them one year from now to leave the country or face deportation,” Logan told the news conference.
He said the decision was reached after President Trump informed them that conditions in Liberia have improved, that the country is no longer experiencing an armed conflict, and has made significant progress in restoring stability and democratic governance.
“At the LRRRC, we are working in consultation with partners to build a temporary home where our fellow Liberians will come and lodge in case any of them find it difficult to trace a relative upon arrival,” Logan said.
He added that it is important to do so because there is a wind-down that will last for one year, giving beneficiaries until March 31, 2019, to change their immigration status, leave the country or face deportation.
In a related development, Logan said his office is in consultation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to find long-term solutions to the integration and residency plight of about 11,261 documented refugees in the country.
He added that of the 11,261 refugees, 10,791 are Ivorians who are currently living in Montserrado, River Gee, Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties, while 63 are from other countries, with 33 seeking asylum, and 374 Sierra Leoneans.
“The protection concerning refugees from Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast who are living in Liberia as well as asylum seekers, locally integrated families, camp-based refugees opting to either go home or stay in Liberia – a third world country – was discussed with partners in context of challenges and recommendations to improve their living conditions while in the country,” Logan said.
Logan said there are over 11,778 Liberians residing in Ghana, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Guinea, Algeria, Libya, Senegal, Ivory Coast and a number of other countries.
“With this situation at hand, the LRRRC has started working with the International Organization on Migration (IOM), Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), to set up a technical working group that will establish contact with our embassies in the region, to share with us the plight of stranded Liberian migrants living in those countries as well as others we are yet to know,” he said.