Liberia: UN agencies open registration centres to help with spontaneous returns

With 150,000 Liberian refugees having already returned home spontaneously, and many more expected to follow suit since a peace agreement in 2003 ended 15 years of civil war, United Nations agencies are helping to set up a string of registration points to ease their reintegration and accelerate the repatriation process.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP), in cooperation with the Liberia Refugee, Repatriation, and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), have already opened the first centre in Bo Water Side for returnees from Sierra Leone, with six more points soon to follow, all close to the borders with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d'Ivoire.

Once a returnee arrives, the registration process is quite easy: the returnee or head of family presents a Voluntary Repatriation Form or other registration documents from the country of asylum to the UNHCR reception team. The documents are then verified, the returnee is deregistered and receives a new WFP assistance card.

Water and dry feeding is provided. After that, food rations for two months and non-food items are provided. Returnees are also provided with transportation or an allowance to continue towards their home.

The centres will be operated in conjunction with UNHCR's national and non-governmental partners.