UNHCR Liberia: Briefing Notes 17 May 2005

Repatriation and Return Exercises
Repatriation of Liberian refugees from asylum countries is continuing. Fifteen thousand (15,000) Liberians have been facilitated to return home since UNHCR launched its voluntary repatriation of Liberian refugees from the region. Repatriation convoys are regularly received in Lofa, Grand Cape Mount, Nimba, Bong and Bomi, areas of an expected high return. UNHCR is meanwhile simultaneously carrying out monitoring activities to collect data on the number of Liberians who continue to return home without UNHCR assistance. This is being done to ensure that this group of people equally benefit from reintegration assistance in their communities, and to also plan strategies interventions.

At the same time, UNHCR continues to lend support and contribute to the return of Liberia's internally displaced Population, under the interagency collaborative framework. So far, 139,677 IDPs have been assisted to return to their communities of origin in Liberia's 15 counties. In Bong, registration of vulnerable people in the Tumutu and Maimu IDP camps who are to be taken to their final destination is now continuing. Through IOM assistance, some 150 persons have already benefited from this exercise.

Needs Assessment Workshop ends in Harper

UNHCR in collaboration with its implementing partner the Danish Refugee Council has in recent time organized a Needs Assessment Workshop for staff members engaged in monitoring activities. The workshop aimed to evaluate current strategy implored to collect relevant data in the areas of return and make improvement in the event of a lapse. The need for a follow-up training was underscored in order to ensure that protection issues are highlighted. The proposed workshop is intended to reinvigorate skills of monitors to effectively report on protection issues and other relevant information.

Enhancing Child Protection through collaboration

UNHCR and Child Protection Agencies operating in Maryland County have begun to initiate concrete programs to promote the welfare of children. An agreement has been reached to develop an action plan to promote children's Rights, importance of education and children's right to education. A radio show on Children's Rights and the importance of education for children has started in Pleebo, Maryland, under the guidance of UNHCR implementing partner, World Vision Liberia. Strategies are being worked out or reaching into areas that lack mass media.

Meanwhile, in Lofa County, UNHCR has donated some tents to the Voinjama Public School to help them cope with the high number of pupils as a result of a school feeding program activated by WFP. In effort to stop the migration of students, UNHCR is pursuing efforts to activate similar feeding program to UNHCR rehabilitated schools in Voinjama district. Meanwhile, UNHCR Implementing partner, Peace Winds Japan continues renovation work on the Tamba Taylor and Foya High schools.

Reintegration Activity

UNHCR also intensified its monitoring of Community Empowerment Projects(CEPs) and other projects under construction by implementing partners throughout the country. These projects target mainly communities where refugees and IDPs are expected to return in large numbers. Among projects completed were schools, clinics, community halls, bridges and water & sanitation. In areas of large return, UNHCR continues to educate and create awareness on the CEP concept and how it works in terms of successful implementation through a step-by-step approach.

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), a UNHCR implementing partner, carried out the distribution of tools and seeds carried out to 4,000 farmers in western Liberia. Verification visits to assess the views of the targeted farmers showed that the farmers while appreciative of the distribution complained of the insufficiency of the seeds and the need to extend coverage areas. It has been recommended that NRC include other farming communities for the remaining seeds and tools distribution. UNHCR implementing partner, LWF/WS has started pilot fishery projects (six ponds) in Salayea. The projecd will be replicated in other districts if all goes well. UNHCR plans to solicit the expertise of sister UN agencies in pursuit of this activity.

Regarding shelter, UNHCR implementing partner, Peace Winds Japan (PWJ) has completed the assessments of shelter project for 500 shelter kits and a distribution schedule is being developed.

Meanwhile several projects in Montserrado County have been completed including the Slip Way Town hall, a footpath bridge project at Weaver Street, Du-port road Paynesville and the King Gray Community School.