De Bernis who was on a three-day assessment mission along the Liberia-Cote d'Ivoire border areas in Nimba and Grand Gedeh counties, said in Ganta, 247 km northeast of the capital Monrovia, that humanitarian organisations were getting overwhelmed by increasing numbers of the refugees and returnees.
Recent fighting in western Cote d'Ivoire had triggered an influx of returnees, refugees and citizens of various West African countries into Liberia, exacerbating the vulnerability of host communities in Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties. So far UNHCR had registered about 70,000 arrivals including 25,000 Ivorian refugees, 5,000 third country nationals and 39,000 Liberian returnees. The numbers however continued to rise.
The mission that included Liberian government officials and representatives of UN agencies, visited transit centers established by the UNHCR in Karnplay, Toe Town and Zwedru and held discussions with representatives of the refugees, returnees and host communities.
De Bernis said delivery of food and non-food items was not sufficient to respond to growing needs and due to poor roads and insufficient trucks, the transport of refugees and returnees out of the border areas and transit sites had been slow.
He welcomed an agreement between the Liberian government and the UNHCR to establish new refugee camps for Ivorian refugees in Seclapea, Zwedru and Harper. He said he was deeply concerned about third country nationals from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Guinea, Mali, Nigeria whose numbers were growing rapidly yet they had nowhere to go.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is to start projects for the internally displaced in Liberia, the NGO reported on Wednesday. "We are currently in the first stage of this process, and are now sending personnel to establish refugee camps for the internally displaced. In addition to this we will build schools and provide education, " NRC Secretary General Raymond Johansen said.
The NRC is currently providing aid to refugees and internally displaced people in 16 different countries on four continents. In Africa the organization has program activities in Sierra Leone, Angola, Burundi, Uganda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and now Liberia.
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