In a bid to provide better protection and humanitarian services to over 46,000 Ivorian refugees remaining in Liberia, the United Nations High Commissions for Refugee (UNHCR) has officially closed down the Solo Refugee Camp in Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County.
The camp, which is located some 15 kilometers from Zwedru, the main city in Grand Gedeh, was closed down on Friday, March 21, after it was cleared of all structures that once provided shelter for refugees in that area.
It was established on April 1, 2011, and is the third Ivorian refugee camp to be closed in the county, and in Liberia, over the past two years.
Ziah and Dougee camps in the county were closed in 2012, and 2013.
During the exercise, UNHCR Country Representative to Liberia, Khassam Diagne, said that the closure of the Solo Camp is part of the joint strategy by the Government of Liberia and his entity to consolidate refugee camps and provide targeted interventions especially in an environment where resources are scarce.
He then expressed his gratitude to the government and people of Liberia for their enormous contributions to the Ivorian refugees during their stayed in the county.
According to him, as a token of appreciation for hosting the refugees, UNHCR and its partners decided to turn over their assets including buildings that once served as primary schools, clinics, offices, warehouse, and a police depot to the County authorities for it usage.
Others facilities turned over to the county authorities are four hand pumps, 27 latrines, nine bathrooms, three laundry slabs, etc.
The UNHCR Country Representative also disclosed that the agency provided 91 houses with bundles of zinc each and other assorted construction materials to residents of the Solo Town Community as the UNHCR way of identifying with them.
For her part, Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) Executive Director, Cllr. Abla G. Williams, expressed thanks to the citizens of Solo Town for the hospitality and generosity shown the refugees during their stay in the community.
The LRRRC Executive Director noted that Solo Refugee Camp, a transit center, was officially declared a refugee camp on April 9, 2011; the facility added had been a seed production site of the Ministry of Agriculture’s, which played host to the first 204 refugees that on April 18, 2011, had arrived at the camp.
“We are quite aware of the numerous challenges you, as a local community faced when the refugees were here; and this is why LRRRC is appreciating you as true and patriotic Liberian for the genuine love and care you showed them,” said Madam Williams.
According to her, the decision to officially close the Solo Camp in separate phases was in December of last year when, she explained, the camp had a population of over 5,700.
She said that the first location of convoy (traveling group) from Solo camp to PTP was 2,959 which took place in August; however, as it stands UNHCR/LRRRC and partners successfully relocated this group with no report of ‘no-shows’ or unattended situations.
“LRRRC is very proud of your work during the camp life-cycle and would like to commend you for the many sacrifices you made in serving humanity; we want to encourage you to continue your good initiatives as you help to compliment GoL development agenda for transformation,” she urged UNHCR.
Meanwhile, Grand Gedeh Superintendent Peter Solo has assured both UNHCR and LRRRC that the facilities that were turn over to them will be maintain for their intended purposes.