Almost 300 Liberian Refugees Arrive Home
ALMOST 300 LIBERIAN REFUGEES ARRIVE HOME ON CHARTERED VESSEL, UN AGENCY REPORTS
New York, Aug 1 2006 10:00AM
A group of nearly 300 Liberian refugees has arrived home this week from Ghana aboard a chartered passenger-cargo vessel, according to the United Nations refugee agency, which is supporting a massive voluntary repatriation to Liberia now that it is consolidating democracy following a brutal civil war.
Following medical screening, the returnees proceeded to a transit centre to receive their reintegration packages, which include food rations for four months, blankets, sleeping mats, cooking utensils, sanitary supplies for women, buckets, lanterns, mosquito nets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans and agricultural tools. They will also be given opportunities for skills training.
It was the first such return by sea since the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began in February to actively promote voluntary repatriation of Liberians who have fled across borders, but there have been three other repatriations by ship from Ghana since UNHCR launched its voluntary repatriation programme in October 2004.
The arrival of the 298 Liberians brings the number of people repatriated with UNHCR assistance from Ghana to some 3,800. Others, mainly those with special needs, have gone home by air.
UNHCR has helped some 73,000 Liberian refugees return home from around the region since 2004. The repatriation programme will continue until June 2007. The next planned movement from Ghana will be an air charter for refugees with special needs next week, to be followed by another sea movement the following week.
Ghana hosts some 38,000 Liberian refugees, who form the majority of the approximately 54,000 refugees in the country.