The UNHCR Regional Director, Madam Millicent Mutuh has extolled the Government of Liberia for playing host to thousands of Ivorian refugees following political instability in that neighboring country.
Madam Mutuh made the assertion on Friday, June 11, 2021 when she paid a courtesy call on Liberian Foreign Minister Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
According to a Foreign Ministry release, Madam Mutuh, who is residence in Dakar, Senegal, was accompanied by Madam Roseline Okora, Country Representative UNHCR-Liberia, Mr. Xavier Creach, Deputy Director Regional Bureau and Ms. Yvette Muhimpundu, Senior Protection Coordinator.
She told the minister that she and her team were in the country to hold discussions with the Liberian authorities concerning the repatriation of Ivorian refugees to their home country.
The Regional Director said UNHCR and the international community are grateful to the Republic of Liberia for the hospitality and security protection accorded the Ivorian refugees since they took refuge in Liberia.
She disclosed that there are currently over 32,000 Ivorian refugees residing in Liberia, of whom 27,000 came in during the recent political tension in Cote D’Ivoire.
Madam Mutuh indicated that the UNHCR team will work closely with the LRRRC and authorities of the two countries to ensure that the refugees return to Cote d’Ivoire in keeping with their desires and wishes.
She said a good number of Ivoirian refugees have expressed their willingness to return home while others remained undecided.
According to the Regional Director, UNHCR has received positive indication which shows that 60 percent of the refugees is willing to return home.
“Mr. Minister, I want to thank you and your government, on behalf of my colleagues, for the warm reception,” She added.
She told the Liberian Foreign Minister that conditions in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire are now conducive for the refugees to return home, adding we are convinced that Cote d’Ivoire is safe for the refugees to return.
She disclosed plan by the UNHCR to hold joint discussions with the governments of Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire and other regional institutions to find suitable time table for the return of the refugees.
Receiving the UNHCR Regional Director, Liberian Foreign Minister Dee Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Lauded the UNHCR and the United Nations in particular, for the support and humanitarian assistance they continue to render refugees in the sub-region. He referenced the era of the Liberian crisis conflict, when Liberians were refugees in neighboring countries.
Amb. Kemayah further indicated that under the astute leadership of President George Manneh Weah, who himself worked with the UN and served as UNICEF Goodwill ambassador, Liberia will continue to play host to refugees from neighboring states, especially Cote d’Ivoire, adding “we ourselves experienced the same situation during our civil conflict when neighboring countries in the region play host to thousands of Liberian refugees”.
The Liberian Foreign Minister then extended sentiments and particularly thanked the UNHCR High Commissioner for the organization’s decision to repatriate Ivoirian refugees to their country, adding Liberia is well pleased to hear from the UNHCR that the refugees have expressed willingness to return home; they are at liberty to return or stay in Liberia; as long as they live in Liberia, the Government of Liberia will give them maximum protection, he told the Regional Director and her delegation.
The Dean of the cabinet said both Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire share commonalties including tribes and cultures which make it compelling for Liberia to provide protection for citizens from its neighboring states, particularly the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire.