Liberians continue to return spontaneously alongside the organized repatriation of Liberian refugees that started in October 2004. Many of the returnees hailed from areas yet to be declared safe for return. A significant rise in the number of persons returning to Lofa, Grand Gedeh County has been reported. UNHCR's implementing partner, Norwegian Refugee Council,(NRC) has reported a total of 10,900 Liberians returned during the month of October 2004. NRC is monitoring at borders and entry points in Lofa County.
In Lofa, a high number of spontaneous return are reported in Kolahun where local authorities in Kolahun reported many more were still coming on a daily basis from both Guinea and Sierra Leone. UNHCR is working closely with NRC to establish the number of spontaneous returnees and assess the validity of documents in their possession.This recent increase has been attributed to the go-and-see visits by Liberian refugees into mainly border areas of Liberia to assess the situation before returning permanently to their country. IDPs are also returning to their communities.
So far, UNHCR has facilitated the return of 2,134 Liberian from West African countries. Over 200 persons are also expected to arrive from Ghana today, 29 November 2004 as part of the ongoing facilitated voluntary repatriation of Liberian refugees.
UNHCR Earmarks Series of Awareness of activities to observe the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Violence
UNHCR in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender, UNMIL and the humanitarian community has commenced the observance of the 16 Days Campaign Against Gender Violence, under the theme "For the health of women, for the health of the World, No more Violence.
On the launch of the day on 25 November, a SGBV Resource Center located at the Ministry of Gender was dedicated to officially open to the public. UNHCR's SGVB partner, DEN-L renovated and furnished the SGBV Resource Center. Resource materials were also donated by UNIFEM and UNHCR.
UNHCR field and sub offices are also engaged in the holding of appropriate programs intended to create a solidarity movement, which raises awareness around gender-based, works to ensure better protection for survivors of violence and calls for its elimination.
In Lofa, UNHCR's partner, the International Medical Corp (IMC), has organized a five-day training workshop on GBV for all health workers while some of the activities earmarked in Gbarnga include an inter-faith discussion, sports and essay competition. The 16 Days is also being observed in Zwedru and Bomi. A parade kicked off the 16 days of Activism in most of the areas of operation.
The campaign, will run until December 10, International Human Rights Day will feature varying activities geared towards creating an awareness on the importance of upholding national and international instruments that promote the rights of women and children.
Promoting Sustainable Return through Reintegration Activities
Four out of the 12 schools earmarked for renovation in Maryland are completed or nearing completion. Also, progress has been made on the 16 projects implemented by the World Vision International (WVI). The water and sanitation projects, both CEP and non-CEP within the Harper District are expected to be completed shortly. With regard to health, progress has been made on five of the seven health centers, while the remaining two is yet to be accessed due to bad road condition.
In Lofa, Peace Winds Japan has commenced the rehabilitation of the Selega and David Selmah town elementary schools. The Kolahun High schools was also assessed and renovation will commence early 2005. Currently there are 54 CEP's being initiated in the Kolahun District in the areas of Agriculture, Training & Production Unit (skills training), Shelter and Wat/San.
In Bong County, UNHCR implementing partner LUSH has been requested to provide furniture for the primary school presently under renovation in the Gbonota, Sanoyea District. The school has seven classrooms. African Concern International (ACI) is the implementing patner for the project. ACI is carrying out sensitisation about the nature and principles of the CEP in Bong County.
Three CEP projects in Bomi County have been approved and will be implemented by Africa Concern International. The projects include community schools and halls. Regarding water and sanitation, existing wells that had been destroyed and looted will be renovated and communal latrines be constructed along with garbage pits.