The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Government of Liberia have commenced the voluntary relocation of Ivorian refugees to the newly-established Bahn Camp, 50 km away from the Liberian border with Côte d’Ivoire.
The first convoy of five trucks departed Old Loguato, Kissiplay and Duoplay border villages in Nimba County on Friday, 18 February for the camp, a journey of about six hours on a dusty stretch of road with 93 refugees in 28 families, including 51 females and 42 males.
The refugees constitute 38, 257 Ivorians that have been so far registered by the UNHCR since the Ivorian refugee emergency started on 29 November 2010 and are staying in 76 border villages. The Ivorians fled to Liberia following disputed second round presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire.
The needed shelters have been constructed by a partner, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to allow the first group of refugees to immediately occupy family structures; structures already operational at Bahn camp include a kitchen, two feeding rooms, health post, three meeting rooms, and two buildings for the UNHCR/ LRRRC and partners. Labour is currently being commissioned from villages around the camp, generating employment among the local population.
The Officer-in-Charge of the UN refugee agency in Liberia, Mr. Raouf Mazou, has expressed delight that the camp will help reduce the weight primary shouldered by local populations.
“We are very thankful to the Government of Liberia and to Liberians in border villages for accommodating the refugees,” said Mr. Mazou, adding that the Bahn Camp, which can accommodate up to 15,000 people is the first camp that has been established for the new refugee arrivals while assessment for the second camp is ongoing.