MONROVIA, 23 January (IRIN) - The
Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees Mary Ann Wyrsch concluded on Thursday
a two-day assessment visit on the general refugee situation in Liberia
and expressed over the increasing number of refugees in the country as
result of the conflict in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire.
Wyrsch told a news conference the UNHCR Monrovia office that her agency was working around the clock at the Liberian-Ivorian border to deal with the large of numbers of arrivals whom she described as frightened and traumatised people, who were crossing into Liberia.
While she did not visit the border areas where the refugees and returnees are concentrated, the Deputy High Commissioner said "Liberia is under additional strain" due by the refugee crisis. She lamented the financial constraints facing the UNHCR in tackling the influx of people, adding "there is a need for additional funding to deal with the evolving humanitarian crisis in the region".
Wyrsch said a meeting of the UN refugee team group was scheduled for this Saturday in the Guinean capital, Conakry, to discuss issues of additional funding to address this situation.
Wyrsch visited Sierra Leonean refugees at the second largest refugee camp VOA west of the capital Monrovia and expressed her agency's, along with other implementing partners, desire to have them repatriated. Presently, there are 17, 000 Sierra Leonean refugees remaining in Liberia. She also met with the Liberia ministers of Justice, planning and foreign affairs and commended the government for keeping its borders open to all those fleeing the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire.
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