Liberia

IDP return in Liberia - Update 3

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1.STATUS OF RETURN

Since the beginning of November last year to date, a total of 32,848 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) has been provided transport and assistance to return to their home counties. Of this total, 21,800 have been provided with transport, a secondary transport grant and the return packages. The remaining 11,048 have returned spontaneously on their own but have also benefited from the return packages and the cash grant. The only assistance they did not receive was transport back home (1) . Split families bring about these differences in figures. i.e. some family members for a variety of reasons stay behind in the camp while others proceed to areas of return.

2. ASSISTANCE TO SPONTANEOUS BEGINS ON FEBRUARY 01:

In order to accelerate and encourage the number of IDPs choosing to return on their own, four transit sites will be opened initially on trial basis during the following days; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. These sites will commence to provide assistance on February 01, 2005. The transit sites that will initially cater to those IDPs who choose to return spontaneously are the following:

- Sinje

- Bo Waterside

- Tubmanburg

- Gbarnga

Mass information campaign started last week to inform the IDPs on this change in procedure and the possibility of receiveiving assistance in the areas of return. The basic message is that IPDs who want to return on their own will still have their return packages which can be collected in the above mentioned sites and that they do not have to wait in the camps for organized transport. Agencies responsible for provision of food and assistance packages have agreed to pre-position them in those four sites.

3. NEW APPROACH TO IDP RETURN:

Despite the doubling of return convoys late 2004, and considering the number of IDPs who have expressed willingness to be assisted return, it has become self-evident that continued trucking in the context of facilitated returns will not be the solution to move the majority of IDPs before the onset of the raining season.

Against this background, the Humanitarian Coordinator has devised a new policy to hasten the rate of return for the majority of those wishing to return. This new policy has also been given impetus by the declaration of seven (7) more counties as "ready to receive" on the 27th of January 2005. This brings to thirteen the total number of counties where IDPs can return out of a total fifteen counties that constitute the Liberian State. The spirit of this new policy is to encourage most of the IDPs to make their own way home while transport assistance would only be availed to vulnerable groups or persons with special needs. This calls for food and non-food items to be pre-positioned as close as possible to the areas of return. In order to implement this new policy the Humanitarian Coordinator has sought assistance from the humanitarian community. Thus far, WFP has pledged to make all the necessary food available and store it as close as possible to the beneficiaries. i.e. those IDP who want to return to Gbarnga, Bo etc. can now be able to pick up their food there without having to wait in Monrovia for transport. UNHCR has on the other hand pledged to increase the amounts of secondary cash grant offered to IDPs depending on the distance to be covered. i.e IDPs returning to Lofa County will on top of the current US$5. get more to allow them to make their way home. On the other hand, those going to Montserrado County which is close to Monrovia will get slightly more than the current US$5. etc.. This new commitment on the part of UNHCR adds up to USD2.5 Million. Similarly, UNHCR will also make provision for and preposition the return kits in the return counties.

4. ADDATIONAL STAFFING NEEDS:

As outlined above, it is hoped that the mouth of February will mark increased activities with regards to the return of IDPs. WFP and UNHCR have agreed to second staff on temporary basis to the HC/RC Office to help expedite and monitor the returns. Furthermore, UNHCR will on behalf the HC's office be requesting for three Emergency Officers from the Danish Refugee Council or the Norwegian Refugee Council on a fast truck basis. Other requirements such and vehicles and office supplies will be sourced from UNMIL.

Note:

(1) The difference between the facilitated figures and the total number of IDP's that have returned is the spontaneous returns. i.e. The IDPs who are facilitated receive transport and the assistance kits, while those who return spontaneously only get assistance through the holder of the WFP card. Essentially, if you have a family size of 10 persons on the WFP feeding card and eight members of the family choose to leave the camp; assistance will still be provided to the 10 members on the WFP ration card. These IDPs are taken out of WFP feeding logs. Their sum total is 32,846. The WFP numbers are therefore closer to the exact number of people who have returned.

Office of the Humanitarian and Relief Coordinator.
31st January 2005.

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.