Liberia + 4 more

Liberia: IOM appeals for US $1.5 m to evacuate third-country nationals

ABIDJAN, 13 March (IRIN) - The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has appealed for US $1.47 million to evacuate some 10,000 third country nationals (TCNs) who fled conflict in Cote d'Ivoire and are trapped in Liberia. They include 6,700 Burkinabes, 1,500 Guineans, 1,650 Malians and 150 others.
The third-country nationals are in transit camps in Harper in the southeastern, and Plebo, Zwedru, Toe Town and Saclepea in the east.

"Subject to the availability of funds, IOM is prepared to undertake the orderly and safe return of TCNs now in Liberian transit camps that will opt for voluntary repatriation," IOM said. "IOM will provide safe, organised transport assistance by land to TCNs registered by UNHCR in 12 weeks. The Land Emergency Return Operation will be implemented from Liberia to the West African countries of origin."

Particular attention, IOM added, would be given to the needs of specific vulnerable cases such as the disabled, sick and the traumatised who would be escorted by specialised IOM personnel to the port of destination and, when required, to the medical centres of reference in their countries of origin.

A return of TCNs would reduce the burden on the Liberian government and host communities. It would also reunite split families, reduce assistance costs in Liberia, enable TCNs with new skills to participate in economic development initiatives in their home countries, and contribute to the achievement of peace and stability in the Mano River Union (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone)and West Africa.

The UN office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on Wednesday that an assessment by IOM, OCHA and the Liberia Refugee, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), had found that most of the TCNs did not want to stay in Liberia, but preferred to be repatriated.

OCHA said the third country nationals were caught in a crossfire between government-supported militias and rebels who cross the porous border with Cote D'Ivoire on looting missions. "Four days before the assessment, rebels from Cote D'Ivoire attacked Toe Town, looted the population, robbed and murdered three humanitarian workers, burnt their vehicle and got away with trucks and logging equipment," OCHA noted. "About 3,000 TCNs and refugees dispersed and moved to Zwedru, others fled to villages along the main road to Tapeta."

"There is an urgent need to transport these nationals to their home countries. The security situation along the border continues to deteriorate as a result of fighting between rebel groups and government troops," OCHA added.


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