Several refugees here from Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Togo, Mali, and Somalia claim the Government of Liberia and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or UNHCR have abandoned them.
Addressing a news conference Tuesday, June 18, at the VOA Refugee Camp in Brewerville, Montserrado County, the mixed refugees explain the essence of their press statement is to draw the Liberian government, UNHCR, and other international partner’s attention to their plights, which they describe as unfavorable living conditions.
“we want to extend our gratitude to the Government of Liberia for playing host to us; however it’s no secret that many of us that came here have had little opportunities for expanding our livelihoods. In our case, the UNHCR and the Government of Liberia are obligated to extend protection or assistance to us, consequently, UNHCR- Liberia is aloof and unconcern with our welfare and their statistics do not provide a comprehensive picture about our appalling conditions and welfare”, complains Mr. PujehMomoh, Assistant Secretary, Sierra Leone refugees.
He says the agenda for protection represents the comprehensive framework for global refugee policy, noting, “We would like for the state, in collaboration with the UNHCR, and the Government of Liberia through the LRRRC to revisit the six main goals set out in the agenda, it is against this backdrop that we are calling on the UNHCR, and the government to help build refugees human capital so as to project self-reliance.”
Momoh laments that as refugees, they are faced with realities that deny them from having a dignified life, and fulfillment of their capabilities. “We are faced with many problems as it relates to education, health, socio-economic, among others.”
According to him, there were two durable solutions that were carried out which are local integration, and repatriation, leaving out a third group composed of those that opted for Refugee Status Determination or (RSD) in 2008.
He continues that in 2008, a decision was made by both the government through the LRRRC, and the UNHCR where refugees were asked to choose an option suitable for themselves, explaining that while the two options were being dealt with, those wanting repatriation were repatriated, and those wanting to be integrated were also integrated.
Pujeh points out that even though those processes were not completed, a third group opted for RSD and they were interviewed after filling in forms, but they have been abandoned, and some are considered stateless as their refugee identities were taken away from them.
He says reason why they don’t want to return or be integrated is because conditions back home are not favorable for them, noting the threat still exists.
According to him, many of them who are in the various communities, urban areas and camps left their respective countries to escape prosecution, armed conflict, including violence and restrictive policies, where they became critically dependent on humanitarian assistance that has since stopped.
By Lewis S. Teh–Editing by Jonathan Browne