UNHCR participated in the first cross border meeting with UNHCR BO Abidjan staff. This was a first meeting in which UNHCR Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia were able to share and exchange information pertaining to Liberia refugees in Côte d'Ivoire and the preparedness of the Government of Liberia and UNHCR for the upcoming facilitated repatriation of Liberian refugees scheduled to commence in October 2004. As part of the preparedness for the return and reintegration, UNHCR has updated its registration form to cope with the needs for legal and material assistance. UNHCR Zwedru is currently carrying out monitoring and registration of Ivorian refugees (old caseload). The land space for the establishment of transit centers and camps is to be identified. Access roads from the border entry points to the proposed transit centers and campsite are currently being assessed. Spontaneous return from Ivory Coast and Guinea continues on a regular flow into Nimba and other areas. Spontaneous returnees have also been reported from Bo-waterside. Returnees are assisted in the transit site with a hot meal before being transported on UNHCR's trucks. While, in Voinjama some spontaneous returnees benefit from the shelter programmes of Peace Winds Japan. The families are given building materials to include metallic sheet, nails and hinges to build their homes.
UNHCR strategies for Post 30th June
UNHCR has begun to look at the management of the Sierra Leonean refugees who will remain in the camp after the 30 June deadline. The first activity earmarked is verification of the remaining caseload to get the actual refugee population. Under consideration is the pursuit of durable solutions, conduct of a Refugee Status Determination and timetable for the application of the cessation clause in Liberia. Given the response to the repatriation exercise, UNHCR may continue with the exercise to allow refugees who registered to go home. UNHCR has launched a vigorous campaign to sensitize residents of host communities about the post 30 June deadline. The campaign is aimed at discouraging acts of vandalism of structures in refugee camps and encouraging residents to accept refugee that may opt for local reintegration. Meanwhile the repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees continues. Over 14,000 Sierra Leonean refugees have been assisted to return home this year alone. Many more refugees are showing up to be repatriated in the last few days. The exercise will probably be extended in order to facilitate those who have registered to return home.
Community Watch team buttress security in camps
The Community Watch Team is made up of volunteers who carry out regular patrols in the refugee and IDP camps during the day and night, and intervenes and mediates in case of tensions and conflicts. This system was set up to enhance security in the camps after the June 2003 war in Monrovia. The teams were already operational in the existing IDPs camps in Montserrado before the conflict and re-established after the war. Their capacity continues to be built through training workshops, and providing logistics to enhance their patrol of the camps. The CWT received training on how to carry out community/neighborhood watch, identify and deal with children who are ex-combatants as well as mediate in conflict resolution. The team members are also sensitized on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) and how to address these cases in the camps. The last session of the workshop for CWT members at Perry Town and Wilson Corner IDP camps was held last week. A total of 94 CWT members have been trained during the month of June. UNHCR is planning to extend the services to the 14 other IDP camps located in Bong, Margibi and Montserrado Counties, as per request of other humanitarian partners and IDPs.