The Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Reintegration Commission (LRRRC) in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has completed a week-long retreat aimed at integrating some refugees from Ivory Coast into the Liberian community.
The conference, which ended yesterday, November 22, with impactful resolutions, was held at a resort in Margibi County under the theme, “Local Integration.”
LRRRC Executive Director Festus R. B. Logan said the agency has the mandate to provide international protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees, and all persons of concern within the borders of Liberia.
Logan referenced the UNHCR 1951 Convention and protocol, which defines local integration as a process involving economic, social and legal integration wherein a refugee achieves certain minimum standards within the host country.
“These aspects of local integration,” according to Mr. Logan, are all important to refugees, who want to stay in local community of the host country.
He conveyed to the audience President George Weah’s best wishes to the retreat as well as his commitment to ensuring that refugees in Liberia continue to feel at home.
Logan added, “I must acknowledge the collaboration we have and continue to enjoy with the UNHCR that has deemed it necessary to host the retreat and hope for its fruitful outcome.”
The officer in charge of the UNHCR, Algasimou Bah, underscored the importance of the local integration for the refugees, which he said a number of them have perceived threats on their lives and security, while others simply want to stay in Liberia and move on with their lives.
Bah said while the UNHCR is in support of the local integration process, it is also willing to collaborate with the Liberian government through the LRRRC to repatriate those who would love to go back to the Ivory Coast.
“Since 20017, the UNHCR and the LRRRC have carried out awareness and sensitization among refugees in Bahn, Nimba County, PTP Camp in Grand Gedeh County and in Wlebo, Maryland County.
An intention survey showed that 47 percent of the refugees opted for local integration,” Mr. Bah said. He added that a large number of the refugees remain undecided up to this moment whether to stay in the country or to return to their home country.
About the developments ongoing in refugee camps in Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties, Mr. Bah said at least 310 acres of land has be secured in Nimba for the integration of the refugees. He expressed confidence that shelters will be built for them with farming land.
“Land in the PTP camp has been identified, but not yet surveyed and negotiated and nine communities within close proximity with little Wlebo camp have been identified and durable shelter prototype has been finalized in Bahn, and the construction of two bedrooms shelter homes has begun,” Mr. Bah said.
He said the UNHCR will promote social cohesion between refugees and the host communities through a community-based approach.
Delegates from Grand Gedeh, Maryland and Nimba refugee camps were part of each of the conclusion of the retreat as LRRRC and partners make their respective remarks on the way forward.