UNHCR Representative praises agricultural self-reliance of Ivorian refugees in Liberia

5 September, 2013. Monrovia, Liberia: The new UNHCR Representative in Liberia, Mr. Khassim Diagne, has said he was impressed with the agricultural prowess of Ivorian refugees in Liberia.

“I am delighted to see that some of you are engaged in very impressive agricultural endeavours including gardening, rice and poultry production. I would like to urge others to emulate this good example,” he said at the Bahn Refugee Camp in Nimba County, where he presented agricultural tools to refugee farmers.

Mr.Diagne encouraged the refugees to engage in agricultural and income generating activities, mobilize themselves and initiate tangible projects. “UNHCR will fully support those that are willing to work for themselves,” he assured, while urging them to always respect the laws of Liberia.

He was speaking during a familiarization tour of four Ivorian refugee camps in Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland Counties.

In addition to lively interactions with refugees, the Representative held a series of meetings with local authorities, partners including the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), UNHCR staff, and UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) officials. He thanked all of them for rendering various services to refugees.

Mr. Diagne informed refugees, partners, and government officials that the focus of the UNHCR Liberia operation is voluntary repatriation. So far this year, the UN refugee agency has facilitated the voluntary repatriation of more than 11,100 refugees out of a planning figure of 16,000. Liberia currently hosts more than 58, 700 Ivorian refugees.

Presenting his Letters of Credence in Monrovia to Minister of Foreign Affairs Augustine Kpehe Ngafuan, the new UNHCR boss expressed sincere gratitude to the Government and people of Liberia for their hospitality in hosting refugees, and for making land available for the establishment of camps and agricultural activities. For his part, Minister Ngafuan thanked the UNHCR for providing humanitarian assistance to thousands of Liberian refugees during the country’s civil war and for assisting them to return home.

Representative Diagne, a Senegalese national, had worked in New York, USA; Kenya, and served in various UNHCR positions in Somalia, Rwanda, Pakistan, and was working at the Agency’s Headquarters in Geneva prior to his appointment in Liberia. He had also served as Regional Public Information Officer based in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire,in which capacity he frequently visited Liberia during the country’s civil crisis when thousands of Liberians were refugees and internally displaced persons.

For further information: Sulaiman Momodu, Public Information Unit, UNHCR, Monrovia, Liberia, momodu@unhcr.org Mobile + 231- 880418437