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UNHCR Liberia Exceeds 16,000 Ivorian Refugee Repatriation Target for 2013.

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UNHCR Liberia Exceeds 16,000 Ivorian Refugee Repatriation Target for 2013.

Sulaiman Momodu, 26 Nov 2013

URL: http://www.data.unhcr.org
MONROVIA, Liberia, 26 November, 2013 (UNHCR): The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Liberia has repatriated 16,232 Ivorian refugees this year, attaining the 16,000 repatriation target the UN refugee agency had set for 2013 while still having a few more weeks to go before the end of the year.

The target attained for 2013 is twice the combined total of about 8,000 Ivorian refugees repatriated in 2011 and 2012. The target was attained over the weekend when a group of 411 refugees crossed over the Cestos River by boat from Buutuo communities in Nimba County into Douhouba in Bin Houye, western Côte d'Ivoire. Refugees in Maryland County repatriate by crossing the Cavalla River on a barge while those in Grand Gedeh County return home by road convoys through the B’hai border crossing point.

“Last week alone we facilitated the repatriation of more than 1,500 refugees from camps and communities. Together with the Government of Liberia and partners we have achieved our goal of assisting 16,000 refugees to go home in 2013. We have some more convoys scheduled to leave in the next few weeks which means that this number will further increase by end of December,” said UNHCR Representative Khassim Diagne, reiterating that assisting Ivorian refugees to return home in safety and dignity is now the focus of the UN refugee agency operation in Liberia.

UNHCR commenced the facilitated voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees in October 2011 following the signing of the Tripartite Agreement for the Voluntary Repatriation of Ivorian Refugees between the Governments of Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, and UNHCR. The UNHCR works in collaboration with the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission and other partners.

Recently, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d'Ivoire called on Ivorian refugees living in Liberia to return home and contribute to the development of their country. The call was made at the end of a four-day Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Meeting held in Zwedru, south-eastern Liberia. The meeting was attended by more than 100 chiefs from the two countries and by Ivorian refugee representatives. The 14 representatives from the four refugee camps in the country recommended improved security, increase in the repatriation grant, and addressing land disputes as issues that would encourage more returns to Côte d'Ivoire.

Liberia currently hosts nearly 58,000 Ivorian refugees most of whom are living in four refugee camps in Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties.