Liberia: UNHCR rules out ‘third country’ scheme for Ivorian refugees

APA-Monrovia (Liberia)

The Liberia office of the United Nations Refugee Agency, (UNHCR) says the third country asylum on the continent is concentrated more in the East and Horn of Africa due to the “very precarious” refugee situations in DRC, South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea.

The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) being followed by UNHCR focuses on the importance of supporting those countries and communities that host large number of refugees, promoting the inclusion of refugees in host communities, ensuring the involvement of development actors from an early stage, and developing a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to refugee responses.

According to UNHCR’s Lisa Quarshie, the “four “key objectives” of CRRF are to ease the pressures on host countries and communities; enhance refugee self-reliance; expand third-country solutions; and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and

The UN agency was reacting to the recent call by some Ivorian refugee families in Liberia to be resettled or evacuated to a third country, fearing reprisal attacks when they return to their homeland, Cote d’Ivoire.

The leader of the Ivorian refugees, Serge Arthur, in remarks at the observance of World Refugee Day on June 20, renewed calls for the UNHCR to “fulfill its promise on the third country (resettlement) solution.”

But the UN agency said it is supporting the government of Liberia in implementing durable solutions in the form of voluntary return for those willing to go back home and local integration for those unable to return.

“There is no plan for a mass evacuation to a third country and refugees are being encouraged to consider opportunities for activities that would make them self-reliant to enable them take care of their needs and be weaned off aid,” said Quarshie.

“Resettlement is the transfer of refugees from an asylum country to another State that has agreed to admit them and ultimately grant them permanent settlement,” she explained.

Though a highly sought after solution, she added, the third country exile or resettlement is subject to a strict criteria for implementation and with the continued reduction of resettlement
quotas, refugees have to work with LRRRC and UNHCR in determining other solutions such as integration, which the Government of Liberia has agreed to support.

The number of Ivorian refugees repatriated this year is 715 with the last convoy comprising 79 individuals from Grand Gedeh on June 19, the agency said. Currently, there are three refugee settlements in Liberia located in Nimba, Grand Gedeh and Maryland counties. Grand Gedeh has the highest number of 5,673 registered refugees, representing 64% of
the overall population.

The refugee and asylum seeker population in Liberia as of 31 May 2019 is 8,923. Out of this number, 8,804 are Ivorian refugees, refugees of various nationalities and 42 are asylum seekers.

It can be recalled that Ivorian refugees arrived in into Liberia as a result of the civil war that erupted in that country in 2002. Over 200,000 of them are estimated to have entered Liberia by 2011, but majority returned spontaneously.


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