The Liberia Refugees Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) have drafted a comprehensive vision aimed at ensuring the sustainable local integration of Ivorian refugees at the various camps in the country.
The two partners recently informed reporters at the close of their week-long retreat on 'local integration' in Margibi County that integrating Ivorians, who want to stay in Liberia for a little while or permanently in local communities, is welcoming. A such, they want careful approach to the process to ensure peaceful coexistence among the refugees and inhabitants of host communities.
LRRRC Executive Director, Festus Logan, expressed gratitude for the retreat, "because it achieved its goals and objectives, and therefore hopes that the vision being drafted will meet the actual aspirations of the Commission and UNHCR.
"We are going to form a national technical working group that will be responsible to work along with my commission and our partners, particularly the UNHCR, in order to make sure our brothers and sisters from our neighboring country, Ivory Coast, continue to feel at home while they are still within our borders," Logan said.
He conveyed President George Weah's commitment to the well-being of not only Liberians but other nationals who find the country a home away from their respective homes.
"I am exceptionally happy that the cross section of participants, including representatives of the refugee communities, participated very well by bringing forth their ideas in an effort for us to construct the strategy that will bring durable and long lasting solutions to the process of local integration.
This strategy, I believe, is a direct element of our Pro-poor agenda, which we have been called upon by the President to help drive to success," he said.
Logan said vulnerable neighborhoods of the host communities will also benefit from the plan, which is intended to help Ivorian refugees live in the country without any worry of harassment or intimidation from the host communities.
According to him, the national technical working group has worked hard in ensuring that the strategy for the local integration of the Ivorians is implemented.
Logan appreciated all other partners for supporting the Pro-poor agenda through the LRRRC's operations, and those of other line ministries and agencies of government.
Up to present, the number of Ivorian refugees in the country stand at 9,180 with 4,494 in Grand Gedeh; 629 in Maryland County; 1,282 in Bahn, Nimba County, while others (2, 775) are sparsely spread in other communities.
David S. Menjor