A total of 45 Liberian refugees under the protection of the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) were on Monday voluntarily repatriated to their country ahead of the expiration of their refugee status in The Gambia by June 31st 2012. Over 1000 Liberian refugees sought refuge in The Gambia during the Liberian conflict.
Speaking prior to their departure, Buba Sagnia, the director general of The Gambia Immigration Department expressed gratitude to the UNHCR, noting that the Gambia government under the dynamic leadership of President Jammeh has been supporting the refugees.
He thanked the GRA and other institutions for their support. He said that during their stay, the refugees contributed immensely to the development of The Gambia. He added that some of them were working in the teaching field among others and never committed any offence.
For his part, Sekou K Saho, the head of UNHCR in The Gambia explained that the UNHCR gave the Liberian refugees two options; either to stay or to depart. He added that 207 decided to go while 270 decided to stay. Momodou Nan Ceesay, the chairman of the Refugees Board Commission said the Liberian refugees were always obeying the laws of The Gambia.
Ebrima Ceesay, protection officer at The Gambia Immigration Department also disclosed they have 98 Liberia refugees who are going back to their country under the UNHCR this week.He said during their stay in The Gambia, the government of The Gambia and UNHCR were doing everything possible to take care of them.
Faburama Jaiteh, a protection officer under the UNHCR revealed that his office is working hard to support the welfare of refugees. He further revealed that UNHCR and the Gambia government have been assisting the refugees with medical bills among others during their stay in the country.
Sekou Lumeh, who spoke on behalf of the refugees, thanked the Gambia Government and UNHCR for hosting and supporting them during their stay here. He said no one deported them, rather, they felt that it was time for them to go back to their own country.He finally thanked the Gambia government and UNHCR for giving them the financial support to start up back home.