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German Gov’t awards scholarships to refugees

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The Federal Republic of Germany, through its embassy in Monrovia, has awarded scholarships to fifteen (15), Ivorian refugees to pursue higher education in various tertiary institutions in Liberia. The second batch of eighteen (18) refugees is being identified for the 2014 – 2015 academic year.

The Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative scholarship was awarded Tuesday 18 March to deserving refugees, who are studying at several Liberian universities, including University of Liberia, United Methodist University, Stella Maris Polytechnic, and the Nimba Community College. Under the DAFI programme, refugees receive tuition, housing, scholastic materials, clothing or uniform, food, and transportation allowance.

According to a press release, UNHCR has enormous interest in the education of refugees, but lacks funding to support refugees at the tertiary level. The UN Refugee Agency is extremely grateful to the German government for this significant contribution to the Ivorian refugee programme, said Representative Khassim Diagne, thanking the Government of Liberia for supporting UNHCR’s activities here.

For her part, the Executive Director of the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, Cllr. Abla G. Williams, commended the German government for assisting refugees to have “a window of opportunity to the future.”

The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany, Ralph Timmermann, said the scholarship programme is named after the German-born theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, who the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics, while a refugee.

“Refugees have enormous potential,” Ambassador Timmermann underscored, urging the awardees to make the best use of the opportunity and to eventually return to Côte d’Ivoire and contribute to the development of their country.  He said the DAFI programme currently supports more than 2,200 refugees from 39 countries.

During Liberia’s civil crisis, dozens of Liberian refugees benefited from the DAFI scholarship programme while in countries of asylum. Most of them have now returned home and are working in various Government ministries and organizations.

A former Liberian refugee from Ghana and a former DAFI beneficiary, William Sheldrick Marshal, said the scholarship gave many refugees a source of hope and changed their lives. The ceremony was attended by a representative of the Special Emergency Activity to Restore Children’s Hope (SEARCH), implementing partner for the programme.

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