Source: The Analyst (Liberia)
By Sallu Swaray
Over 70, 000 Liberian refugees still reside in camps outside the country particularly in neighboring Sierra Leone, Guinea, Ivory Coast, The Gambia and Ghana respectively, according to the UN Refugees Agency, UNHCR.
Speaking Wednesday at a news conference held at UNMIL Headquarters at the Pan African Plaza in Sinkor, Monrovia, Renata Dudini said UNHCR is now trying to consider a way forward for those Liberian refugees wishing not to return to Liberia at the moment.
Ms. Dudini indicated that UNHCR is trying to take stock of experience to see if there are still people who would like to be supported to return home before end of the year, probably when the duration of the rainy season is over.
According to her, UNHCR is also trying to take stock to ensure that in the next two months, Liberian refugees return home.
She said those Liberian refugees who do not wish to return home, she and her colleagues in the West African region prior to her coming to Liberia, had started thinking on how they can contribute to accompany the refugees in the process of local integration in those asylum countries were they wish to stay.
She added that discussions have begun at regional level during the Mano River Union meeting last year, and the most recent meeting held in Dakar, Senegal with her colleagues as well as and in Liberia at the mission level with counterparts and some key ministers.
She stressed that up to the time of the June 30 deadline, UNHCR voluntarily repatriated about 110, 000 Liberian refugees from Ghana, Nigeria and Sierra Leone between June and July.
She disclosed that UNHCR has already made some positive developments in Nigeria by encouraging the Nigerian authorities to issue ECOWAS Resident Permit to those Liberians who are opting to stay in that country.
She said UNHCR is trying to use Nigeria as a pilot project to see what could be done in the different countries, stating that Nigeria may be much easier because the estimated number of Liberian refugees living in that country is about 5, 000.
According to the UNHCR Regional Repatriation Manager, Raoul Mazor, the Liberian refugees will be integrated in their environment legally to make sure that they will have a purse that will allow them to be free and safe in the country were they are.