UNHCR Facilitates More Refugee Return
The third organized road convoy movement of some 235 Liberian returnees from Sierra Leone arrived on 22 October through the Bo Waterside entry point. The returnees were given medical treatment, hot meals, a two-month complementary food ration, non-food items and secondary transportation before leaving the transit center for their final drop-off points. The latest convoy brings to total 507 the number of Liberians who voluntarily returned home from asylum countries since the start of the organized repatriation operation on 1 October 2004. The forth facilitated convoy of Liberian refugees from Sierra Leone is expected to reach Liberia on 29 October. Additionally, some 300 refugees will form part of the first road convoy movement from Guinea through the Ganta entry point on 30 October. The majority will be going to Bong county. Also from Nigeria, about 600 refugees have been registered so far for facilitated organised repatriation.
Trends of returnees coming back from Ghana by commercial vehicles, going to Monrovia by B'hai border continue. During the reporting period, a UNHCR mission met a 10 cars convoys bringing around 90 passengers. Some spontaneous returns informed UNCHR about a considerable number of checkpoints in Ivory Coast, with cases of harassment and extrusions of money. Reports also indicate that as a consequence, most of the returnees who stop in Toe Town do not have cash anymore and this is leading to an increase of insecurity in the town.
Update on IDP Return Preparedness
UNHCR is actively participating in the expected IDP movement commencing 1 November. This is done within the framework of the inter-agency collaborative approach, the Joint Planning Team (JPT). So far, more than 3,000 IDPs have agreed to return to Grand Cape Mount County on the start of the operation. UNHCR is providing non-food items (NFIs) and is making its transit facilities and staff available for IDP returnee caseload on 1 November. UNHCR is properly coordinating with the government and other humanitarian actors in its assistance to IDPs as they go back to their communities of origin. About 100,000 IDPs will be assisted to move back to their areas of return by the end of 2004.
UNHCR Field Office in Zwedru, Gedeh County completed a training of those doing returnee monitoring. The training was specifically targeted at UNHCR's implementing partner, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) project monitors. The two-day training centered on principles of protection and monitoring, Sexual Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and Code of Conduct. They will be deployed in 12 different return locations. UNHCR is making field monitoring a priority issue, particularly during the ongoing refugee return and the expected IDP movement on commencing 1 November. NRC has deployed 32 monitors on the border entry points with Sierra Leone and Guinea for the purpose of returnee monitoring.
UNHCR and other working groups held a three-day SGBV workshop on 21 October in Monrovia on Effective Communication Strategy. The workshop exposed participants from partners to the techniques of working with SGBV survivors. The initiative was part of effort by the inter-agency body charged with the collective responsibility to establish a comprehensive multi-sectoral programme to address issues of SGBV at the country team level.
A UNHCR-funded school renovation project in Lofa County was completed by Peace Winds Japan, the implementing partner. Another school renovation work is almost completed in Zorzor. While in Harper, Maryland County, 13 Community Empowerment Projects (CEPs) were approved during the reporting period for implementation. Some 36 more CEPs are being reviewed for approval. In addition in Grand Gedeh County, 16 CEPs were also approved. They are mainly related to agriculture and school rehabilitation projects.