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Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, UNHCR resume repatriation

Following the fifth technical meeting of the Tri-partite Commission on the Voluntary Repatriation of Ivorian refugees held on 9th and 10th December 2015 in Monrovia, the Governments of Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire and the UNHCR have agreed to resume the voluntary repatriation process.

The Acting Minister of Internal Affairs of Liberia, Varney Sirleaf, emphasized the role of peace and reconciliation in the voluntary repatriation process, signaling the Liberian Government’s readiness to work closely with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to officially resume voluntary repatriation.

The Secretary General of the Ministry of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Côte d’Ivoire, Ambassador Claude Béké, assured the delegations that there was security on the ground and conducive to the resumption of the voluntary repatriation process. The Government of Côte d’Ivoire reiterated the full commitment, on behalf of the Ivorian President, to support the return of the Ivorian refugees living in Liberia – a crucial element for the peace and reconciliation of the country.

Ms. Ndeye Ndour – the Country Representative of the UNHCR in Liberia, reiterated UNHCR’s preparedness to work with the Governments of Liberia and Côte d’Ivoire to facilitate the voluntary return and reintegration of the Ivorian refugees living in Liberia.

Due to the Ebola outbreak, the border between Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia has been officially closed for the last 16 months, causing the suspension of the voluntary repatriation process. In spite of the border closure, the Tri-partite Commission agreed to resume the process through humanitarian corridors.

Ivorian refugees living in Liberia fled post- electoral violence in 2010-2011 from their home country; some 300,000 persons were forcibly displaced, finding themselves in need of international protection.

To date, close to 38,000 Ivorian refugees remain in Liberia – the majority of whom inhabit the three refugee camps of Bahn (Saclepea, Nimba), PTP (Zwedru, Grand Gedeh) and Little Wlebo (Harper, Maryland).

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Some 11,000 of these refugees have expressed their desire to return through the voluntary repatriation process, and registration of new intentions is was on-going.

A final communiqué was signed by the Honorable Varney Sirleaf, Acting Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic if Liberia; Ambassador Claude Beke of the Ministry of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire; and Mme Ndeye Ndour, Country Representative of UNHCR in Liberia.

-Edited by George Barpeen

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