General News Fri, 27 Feb 2004

Liberians refugess To Be Repatriated in October

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ghana is to repatriate about 6,000 refugees at the Buduburam settlement camp in October this year after the Disarmament Demobilisation Rehabilitation and Re-integration (DDRR) programme has been instituted in Liberia.

According to the UNHCR, although the United Nations Mission In Liberia (UNMIL) has been successful in the demobilisation in Monrovia, it has not been able to deploy the 15,000 troops expected to do a total disarmament and demobilisation in the county areas of Liberia.

The Public Information Officer of the UNHCR, Ms Needa Jehu-Hoyah, disclosed this in an interview after the Interim Liberian Minister for Youth and Sports, Ms Wheatonia Y. Dixon Barnes, paid a visit to the camp on Wednesday.

The visit was to afford the minister the opportunity to give first-hand information to her compatriots on the current security situation in Liberia as well as talk to the youth about the importance of acquiring transferable skills that would be beneficial to them when they return home.

The Buduburam Refugee camp currently hosts about 41,853 refugees, mostly Liberian nationals.Ms Jehu-Hoyah said there was no point in sending the refugees back when the disarmament programme had not been thoroughly done. She said it would be a waste of effort and demoralisation of the refugees, if the demobilisation was not done in some counties as expected in June, this year.


On her part, Ms Dixon Barnes, said her outfit had been mandated to work with the youth through vocational education, sports and youth services.She said the ministry had changed its policy direction to include sustainable jobs which are in high demand on the job market in Liberia especially in the area of road and building construction.

The ministry, she said, was working with the Ministry of Labour to ensure that those at home were registered and categorised to determine the pool of labour. She urged the refugees to make sure they acquire the requisite skills in masonry, carpentry, welding, plumbing, electronics and anything that had to do with construction, computer, accounting and secretarial work to avoid getting frustrated after they return home.

?We want Liberians to participate and take charge of the economy and not let other people come to take the jobs meant for you,? she stated.Ms Dixon Barnes said with the devastation of the war in Liberia, the current government needs personnel with the right skills to help in the reconstruction process of the country to ensure transparency and good governance.

The Protection Officer of UNHCR, Mrs Jane Muigai, said the UNHCR intended to collaborate with the Ministry of Manpower Development and Employment, and NGOs to train refugees to acquire skills in masonry, carpentry, plumbing and road and building construction.

She said the UNHCR had just completed a comprehensive registration exercise as well as the profile of the level of education of the refugees.The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Mr Kwabena Okerchiri, pledged to get the assistance of experienced contractors to help sharpen the skills of the youth in the Buduburam camp before they are repatriated.

Source: Graphic