The Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) says its attention has been drawn to the call by some former Sierra Leonean refugees requesting the Commission and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) to resettle them in a Third Country of Asylum.In a press release issued over the weekend, LRRRC states that there are no Sierra Leonean refugees in the borders of Liberia.
According to the release, in 2008 the cessation clause for Sierra Leonean refugees was invoked by the international community, following the return of peace and stability in Sierra Leone.
The release says the just – ended refugee status of Sierra Leonean refugees residing in Liberia, a small group of 375 Sierra Leoneans was exempted from cessation with no promise of resettlement to a third country.
The release reveals that the Government of Liberia provided them continued refugee status.
In 2016, the release notes that the UNHCR Headquarters issued a circular informing its offices that solutions be found for all refugees in the sub-region from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
The release says it was indicated in 2016 that all refugees in the sub-region were no longer to receive international protection and assistance from UNHCR given the prevailing improved political situation in these countries.
LRRRC recalls that the circular also informed countries hosting these refugees to work with the concerned population for local integration and voluntary repatriation solutions.
In 2016 – 2017, the release continues that the Government of Liberia Eligibility Committee comprising the Ministries of Justice, Internal Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance and Development Planning, LRRRC and the UNHCR reviewed all claims made by Sierra Leonean refugees in 2008/2009.
120 claims were reviewed by the Government of Liberia Eligibility Committee and were determined not to be in continued need of international protection following successive democratic elections and the institution of the rule of law in Sierra Leone since 2008.
The release maintains that LRRRC in collaboration with UNHCR provided livelihood grants to those who submitted business plans as local integration option.
85 family heads were provided livelihoods assistance from the UNHCR which constituted 295 individuals and signed appropriate documentation. It was understood that this was to support to aid self-reliance.
According to the LRRRC release, the former Sierra Leonean refugees are demanding a reinstatement of their refugee status and resettlement to a third country.
“These two demands cannot be fulfilled by the Government and UNHCR who have made it clear that resettlement is not a right and is not available to these demonstrating Sierra Leoneans. They are no longer refugees,” the LRRRC says.
Meanwhile the Commission urges the demonstrating Sierra Leoneans to desist from this public display of disaffection and take steps to integrate into this beautiful country that has provided them with protection to date and is willing to integrate them, if they so wish.
“As they remain citizens of Sierra Leone they may also return home if they so wish. LRRRC further advices the group to respect the laws of Liberia, especially as it relates to permission to carry out demonstrations,” it says.–Press release