Nine years after the fourteen-year war ended in Liberia (2003), the country is still facing significant social and economic challenges that generate and drive humanitarian needs. The unstable political and security situation in Liberia’s three neighboring countries1 over the last decade has contributed to promoting further vulnerabilities among different population groups on Liberian soil. The postelectoral violence in Cote d’Ivoire in November 2010 has been the most notorious. It caused serious harm not only to the Ivorian nationals but also to Cote d’Ivoire’s neighbours, particularly Liberia. More than 200,000 Ivorians crossed into Liberia as refugees between November 2010 and May 2011. All of these refugees concentrated in five out of the fifteen counties that exist in Liberia, namely Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Montserrado, Nimba, and River Gee – counties. The strain on local resources following this massive refugee influx has been serious, with noticeable adverse effects on the livelihoods of host community populations.
To address the critical humanitarian situation, a ‘Central Emergency Response Fund’ Appeal (CERF) and an Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan (EHAP) were issued in 2011, and a Consolidated Appeal Process in 2012 was developed by the humanitarian community to address the needs of both the Ivoirian refugees and the affected host communities. As of December 2012, there are over 65,000 Ivoirian refugees in Liberia, 43% of them still living within the host communities despite the government policy requiring all refugees to move to the existing 5 refugee camps2 and the scaling down of individualized assistance, including food distribution, to refugees living in host communities.
These refugees require continued support as do the estimated 25,000 former Liberian refugees who have returned to Liberia in 2012 alone with UNHCR facilitation. About 5,000 Liberian migrants stranded in the ECOWAS region are also willing to return home, but their intentions cannot materialize without external support. Necessary means have to be found to help them return and eventually support their reintegration once back in Liberia. Vulnerable population groups in these counties need support for strengthening resilience and protecting their livelihoods from internal and external shocks.