UNHCR in collaboration with UNDP facilitated the return of over 100 IDP women who had gone to Voinjama on a "Go and see mission". The women who currently live in IDP camps in Monrovia had undertaken the mission to Voinjama to see first hand if the place is safe for return, and to observe preparatory activities being undertaken by the international community. The mission was also intended to meet with kinsmen to discuss the peace process and their role in sustaining peace in Liberia. The mission provided the women the opportunity to see many of their compatriots who returned spontaneously from Guinea and already are rehabilitating their homes destroyed by the war. According to them they will report their findings to others in the IDP camps and also spread the message that life is fast returning to Lofa. UNHCR FO Gbarnga facilitated their return trip to Monrovia/IDP camps, after the Pakistani Battalion transported them up to Gbarnga.
UNHCR prepares operation plan for facilitated repatriation
In the wake of the upcoming facilitated repatriation exercise of Liberian refugees from the region, staff of UNHCR held a one-day retreat to revisit the Liberian program to be in readiness to respond to the challenge. There are over 300,000 Liberians seeking refugees in West African countries. Since the return of peace to Liberia, some Liberians have taken upon themselves to return to Liberia without the assistance of UNHCR. Many of the spontaneous returns travelled under undesirable conditions sometime life threatening. UNHCR and UNMIL has had on several occasions had to mobilize to come to the rescue these people either by air, land or by sea. UNHCR now operates camps to accommodate and cater to the thousands of spontaneous returnees who are unable to return to their counties of origin due to insecurity.
For the time being, UNHCR is not promoting repatriation to Liberia, as parts of the country are still not secure. It is currently boosting its presence in the field in Liberia to lay the groundwork for organised returns starting in October, provided the peace process continues without major incidents. The aim is to assist in the repatriation and reintegration of 150,000 Liberian refugees this year.
UNHCR is in the process of monitoring in all Saclepea surrounding towns and districts to establish the whereabouts of Ivorian refugees who were forced to leave the camp to become displaced among Liberia societies when war broke and UNHCR staff was obliged to evacuate. 418 Ivorian refugees are currently accommodated in Saclepea camp. In the meanwhile, Ivorian refugees in Toe and Zleh Town near Zwedru have formed themselves into two committees to help record the presence of compatriots in the area and report to UNHCR accordingly. The committee is comprised of equal representation of male and female. In Zleh Town, a women refugee committee was also created. The refugee committees submitted an initial list of the number of refugees in their respective area.