As the facilitated voluntary repatriation of lvorian refugees tops 12,000 this year, a team of 18 Ivorian refugees from refugee camps and communities in Grand Gedeh County over the weekend left Liberia on “Go and See” visit to Cote d’lvoire,
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in collaboration with the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), organized the “Go and See” mission in order to give the opportunity to refugees to assess the general situation in Cote d’lvoire firsthand and to report to other refugees upon their return. Report from the “Go and See” visit is expected to guide refugees in making informed decision for repatriation.
The 18 refugees, including 11 males and seven females, were from the PTP Refugee Camp (former Prime Timber Production site), Solo Refugee Camp, Zwedru, Toe Town, and Zleh. They were accompanied by two staff from UNHCR and the LRRRC. During their weekiong visit, the refugees, divided into groups, are expected to visit 16 communities including: Diboke, Doke, Guiglo, Duekoue, Toulepleu, Nezobly, Tiobli and Panhoulo. Others are: Blolequin, Bangolo, Danane, Bin-Houye, Tai, Zeaglo, Katouo and Dohouba.
“The ‘Go and See’ visit is in line with recommendations of the Tripartite Commission for the Voluntary Repatriation of lvorian Refugees which state that such visits should be organized for the refugees themselves to go and assess the situation in their country,” remarked UNHCR Representative Khassim Diagne, adding that similar visits are being organized for refugees in Nimba and Maryland counties. The Tripartite Commission comprises the Governments of Liberia and Cote d’lvoire, and the UNHCR
Meanwhile, despite challenging road conditions with ongoing seasonal rains, 797 Ivorian refugees were assisted to return home last week from Grand Gedeh, Nimba and Maryland counties, the highest weekly return recorded this year. “So far this year, we have assisted 12,220 Ivorian refugees to voluntarily return home. Our repatriation planning figure is 16,000. We are confident that we will attain this target,” said Representative Diagne, pointing out that the focus of the UNHCR operation in Liberia is now on voluntary repatriation.
Liberia currently hosts more than 58,000 Ivorian refugees most of whom are living in four refugee camps while others live in communities. Since 2011, the UN refugee agency, in collaboration with partners, has facilitated the voluntary repatriation of more than 20,000 Ivorian refugees.