An additional 131 Liberian refugees under the protection of the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCP) were Tuesday voluntarily repatriated to their home country ahead of the expiration of their refugee status in The Gambia by June 30th, 2012. It would be recalled that over 1000 Liberian refugees sought refuge in The Gambia during their civil war.
Speaking prior to their departure, Ensa Jawara, the public relations officer of The Gambia Immigration Department said the refugees lived in The Gambia for more than a decade and are now returning to their home country of Liberia, which is facilitated by the Gambia government in collaboration with UNHCR. PRO Jawara further stated that during their stay as refugees' in The Gambia, the Liberians contributed immensely to the country's development and never committed any offence.
For her part, Hulay Jallow, the refugee commissioner in The Gambia said they are very proud of the Gambia government for facilitating the refugees' stay in The Gambia. She disclosed that UNHCR has budgeted a special package for the departing refugees, adding that each adult among them has been given US$300 while children were given US$200 to ease their repatriation. She commended them for being law abiding during their stay in the country, noting that protection officers of UNHCR where always monitoring their activities.
Momodou Nai Ceesay, the chairman, Governing Board of The Gambia Commission for Refugee said the Liberians came to The Gambia as a result of the conflict in their county and were given refugee status by the government of The Gambia, as well as social service by the UNHCR and Gambia Food and Nutrition Association (GAFNA). He explained that repatriation was willingly taken by the refugees as they were given two option to either stay as refugees or go back home and they decided to go back home.