The UN refugee agency has repaired the ferry linking southern Côte d'Ivoire and southeastern Liberia in efforts to facilitate safe return to Liberian refugees to Maryland County. The Ivorian army damaged the ferry in 2003 in an attempt to prevent rebels from using it. The ferry, which can carry 28 tons, will prove instrumental when UNHCR starts repatriating Liberian refugees to Maryland County. Preparation, which includes logistics and transit accommodation for the first batch 247 Liberian Returnees from Tabou, Cote d'Ivoire is underway. This will be the first time organised returns are taking place to the county in southeastern Liberia since the refugee agency launched the regional repatriation operation for the return of Liberian refugees last October.
In the meantime, UNHCR has successfully concluded the relocation of IDPs and Liberia returnees who resided in the Little Wleebo Camp for Ivorian refugees. On 3 March 2005, the last group of seventeen persons was repatriated to Greenville, Sinoe County. Currently in the camp are 81 Ivorian refugees and 28 Third Country Nationals.
UNHCR Commences Status Review of Reintegration Activities
UNHCR has commenced the review of the status of its reintegration activities and impact on the community. UNHCR Reintegration experts carried out a mission to Maryland County and visited the Watchoken Youth Capacity Building, Women Self-help Projects, the Pleebo Health Clinic and the SEWODA Skills Training Project. Through these projects, the community is benefiting from health services, skilled residents in carpentry, baking and sewing.
Similar visitations are being carried out on various reintegration activities in Gbarnga, Bong County. In Suakoko, Bong County, the Women Development Centre is at roof level. The Centre is intended to be used to provide training for the empowerment of women in the district, to give support to the reintegration of women and help reduce sexual gender based violence that women at grass root level of society suffered. Through the local chief, the community is requesting the construction of a latrine and rehabilitation of a hand pump. In Gbartala, three community drop hole latrines have been constructed and turned over to the community of Gbartala town, Suakoko District. The residents have requested the construction of more latrines to meet the demand.
The health clinic in Cooper Town, Salala, Bong County is about 80% complete. The project was originally intended for Frelalah but due to the existence of a clinic, the Country Health Officer, representing the Ministry of Health as well as the LRRRC recommended the change. In the meantime, a staff quarter comprising of two apartments with two bedrooms has been completed. The quarter will provide accommodation for the nurses and Physician Assistants on night duty.
Also in Salala, the Saysayla Community School Project has been completed. The school has five-class room and an office.