The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees or UNHCR and its implementing partner, Africa Humanitarian Action or AHA have turned over several water and sanitation facilities to the Government of Liberia at the Little Wlebo Refugee Camp in Maryland County, southeast Liberia.
UNHCR and partner have been working with Ivorian refugees in the camp for several years in the areas of water, sanitation and health. At the turn over ceremony on Friday, 17 November held in the Little Wlebo Refugee Camp, the Africa Humanitarian Action and UNHCR handed over to the government 118 latrines, 112 bath houses, and 15 hand pumps to be managed by local authorities for the beneficiaries.
The camp has a current population of 1,240 refugees some of whom are willing to be repatriated to the Ivory Coast, while others have said they prefer integration into the Liberian society.
UNHCR, also known as the UN Refugee Agency, is responsible to protect and support refugees around the world. It also undertakes voluntary repatriation, local integration or resettlement to a third country. Its headquarters are based in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a member of the United Nations Development Group.
Speaking to the New Dawn in Maryland, Health and WASH coordinator for Africa Humanitarian Action Mr. Josiah Nimely discloses that AHA is expected to finally end its operations in the county by the end of December.
However, he continues that until such time the entity will continue to work with the government and refugees to provide maintenance for the facilities in every way possible.
UNHCR representative Gibson Zulu, lauds AHA for fully implementing its project. He describes AHA as an implementing partner in the country that uses donor funds for their intended purposes.
He calls on refugees in the camp, who are not interested in being integrated to go through the proper procedures to avoid future embarrassment.
Mr. Zulu continues that every part of the world is important to live but anyone desirous of becoming a permanent resident in a particular area should go through naturalization process to obtain legal status. On behalf of UNHCR, he thanks the Government of Liberia for hosting the Ivorian refugees and ensuring their free movement, as well as opportunity to employment.
He notes that the provision of portable water and sanitation is one of UNHCR’s goals globally. Meanwhile, Maryland County Assistant Superintendent for Development, Nathaniel Toe, Jr. assures the refugees that the county authority remains committed to providing security and job opportunities for those refugees who want to make Liberia a permanent home, and lauds them for living in the camp peacefully over the years.
Mr. Toe says the local authorities plan to properly develop the camp for those who wish to live in Liberia after the final repatriation exercises by the Liberia Refugees Repatriation and Resettlement Commission and partners, but reiterates that they must go through the naturalization process.
By George K. Momo from Maryland-Editing by Jonathan Browne