The new representative of the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) in Liberia has presented his Letters of Credence to Acting Foreign Minister, Mr. Sylvester Grigsby. During a meeting at the Foreign Ministry, Friday, Mr. Cosmas Chanda presented his letter of introduction from High Commissioner António Guterres, head of the Office of the UNHCR.
Speaking later, Mr. Chanda expressed his delight at being posted to Liberia. He noted that he was fully aware and mindful of the developments that have taken place in the country and excited about the recovery especially the few years since the country has remained stable.
The new UNHCR-Liberia boss said he is also fully cognisant of the presence of refugees in Liberia. “We don’t want that to be an added burden on Liberia’s already crowded agenda. So as UNHCR, we will try our best to make sure that that burden is cushioned,” he said.
At the same time, he informed Acting Foreign Minister Grigsby that before their meeting, the Government of the United States of America had presented to the UNHCR a cheque of US$4 million to assist Ivorian refugees in Liberia. This is an additional amount to what the US Government has already contributed to the UNHCR for the upkeep of Ivorian refugees in the country.
Mr. Chanda renewed the UNHCR’s thanks and appreciation to the Liberian government for the generosity of accepting Ivorian refugees in spite of the other demanding priorities that the country has. “As UNHCR, we are more than grateful for that,” he said.
Acting Foreign Minister Grigsby welcomed Mr. Chanda to Liberia, especially when Liberia is buzzing with a number of activities – preparations for the upcoming elections, and the Ivorian refugee situation.
He said Liberia is delighted to host Ivorian refugees especially recounting Liberia’s experience where other countries were very kind to accept us when we were desperate. The Acting Foreign Minister hoped that as normalcy gradually returns to Ivory Coast, refugees will have an incentive to want to return home as soon as possible.
Acting Foreign Minister Grigsby reiterated government’s preparedness to give whatever assistance the UNHCR-Liberia may need as well as cooperate with them to enhance their work. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is open at any time you need us,” he said.
The new UNHCR Representative in Liberia is Zambian-born Mr. Cosmas Chanda. He joined the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in 1984 and has worked in many countries in various capacities. Prior to his appointment to Liberia, Mr. Chanda served in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia as Deputy Representative for about four years.
He had also worked for the UN refugee agency in Accra, Ghana as Regional Support Hub Manager; in Kenya as Head of Sub-Office in Kakuma, and in Gaborone, Botswana as Head of Liaison Office. Mr. Chanda, whose background is Public Administration, had also served the refugee agency in Uganda, Malawi, Namibia, Sierra Leone, and Zambia.
Mr. Chanda was accompanied to the Foreign Ministry by the Executive Director of the Liberia Refugee, Resettlement and Repatriation Commission (LRRRC), Cllr. Wheatonia Dixon Barnes and the UNHCR-Liberia Public Relations Officer, Sulaiman Momodu.