President George M. Weah has told Ivorian refugees living in Bahn, Nimba County, to protect Liberia and respect the laws if they must live here freely.
The Liberian Leader made the statement when he dedicated 93 durable housing units that were built for integrating Ivorian refugees.
Out of the 93-housing units, 10 were built with support from the EU/UN Spotlight Initiative through the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and Plan Liberia with the remaining 15 expected soon.
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency), constructed the remaining 83 in collaboration with the government of Liberia through the African Initiative for reconstruction and Development (AIRD).
Roseline Okoro, Representative of UNHCR of Liberia, requested the government to waive the integration documentation fees to enable refugees to stay in Liberia legally or permanently, but shortly after she made the request to the government, President Weah told the refugees to protect the country and stay away from violent acts.
President Weah said, “We do not want trouble in our country, if anyone tells you anything other than peace, you must inform the local government.”
“I remember when we were refugees in Côte d’Ivoire…what kept us there was because we were civil, we did not interfere with the governance of the state or tried to destabilize the place, and I am sure that is why we spent that long time and up to now so many Liberians have now integrated,” he said.
Pres. Weah told the refugees that it is their choice to stay in Liberia or return to Côte d’Ivoire all that is needed is to be law-abiding.
Okoro said the settlement was established as a camp to provide refuge for refugees who fled Côte d’Ivoire in 2010. She added the people of Bahn provided the land to LRRRC that gives homes to over 26, 000 refugees most of whom have since returned to Côte d’Ivoire, adding that “today, Bahn settlement is the home to 958 Ivorian refugees who have opted to integrate in Liberia and who live in peaceful coexistence with their Liberian hosts.”
Okoro said UNHCR together with the government must ensure continued access to livelihood opportunities which will make the refugees ‘self-reliant,’ have access to quality education, good healthcare in fulfillment of the sustainable development goals.
She said the UN Spotlight Initiative has complemented the housing project as a means of giving refugees the opportunity to start a new life, to better their fortunes, and provide protection for themselves and their children.
Festus Logan, LRRRC Executive Director said the government of Liberian and developmental partners “Use this historic moment to proudly mention that Bahn refugee camp is now transformed to Bahn settlement with 93 durable housing units with solar electrification, a modern health center, elementary and junior high school adapting the Ministry of Education’s academic curriculum.”
Logan said there will be a replica of the same housing units in Grand Gedeh County on land acquired by the government through LRRRC.
Laurent Delahousses, EU head of Delegation to Liberia, thanked the government of Liberian for being able to pay back to who help them during their crisis.
He said, “When I was a young French Diplomat, I was assigned to Guinea at the French embassy in January 1990. I saw the distribution of humanitarian supports to Liberian Refugees who escape the heat of the civil war. Today I am proud to be with you here when Liberia is giving back what they received.”
Basil Titu, the refugee representative, thanked the government of Liberia and international partners for the housing units and promised to protect the laws of Liberia.
In a related development, UNFPA donated medical supplies to the health center to enable female refugees to have access to safe delivery; conceptions to enable women to prevent unwanted pregnancy.