• Text size Normal size text | Increase text size by 10% | Increase text size by 20% | Increase text size by 30%

UNHCR launches verification exercise in Sierra Leone

News Stories, 2 June 2005

© UNHCR/S.Momodu
UNHCR staff checking the ration cards of refugees in Tobanda camp, Sierra Leone.

KENEMA, Sierra Leone, June 2 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency has started a verification exercise in Sierra Leone's camps to update refugee numbers in the country amid the ongoing repatriation to Liberia, and to assess the needs of those who remain.

The exercise involves all eight camps in Sierra Leone and is organised by UNHCR, the National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA), the World Food Programme and various implementing partners.

On Monday, more than 400 trained verifiers checked the photographs on ration cards against the refugees in person. Refugees whose photographs were unrecognizable or who were absent on Monday were verified the following day. The team has also started going door to door to count the number of refugees living in each house and check if some of the houses are in fact occupied. Addresses on the ration cards will be updated accordingly. The whole process will last a month in order to give all refugees the chance to be verified.

According to Ibrahima Coly, who heads the UNHCR office in Kenema, the verification is going smoothly and the cooperation between partners and refugees has been impressive.

This is not surprising, considering how much planning has gone into the exercise. Before it started this week, UNHCR and its implementing partner, Talking Drum, carried out an information campaign in all the camps to prepare the refugees for the exercise. UNHCR also organised a radio discussion that was broadcast on most local radio stations in the country.

Verifiers and supervisors from camp managements and the relevant agencies were trained for the verification exercise, and a simulation exercise was conducted in Jembe and Gondama camps on May 25.

Sangay Konneh in Tobanda camp said that when she presented her ration card and her face was not easily recognizable, she was referred for further verification. "My ration card was taken and when checked on the computer, my face was there, together with my dependant, so my card was verified and validated."

Another refugee, Massah Matoe, made sure she was home when the verifiers came knocking. "We were earlier informed to be at home on May 30 with our ration cards so when the team came to my house, they checked my face against the face on the ration card and it was verified and accepted."

UNHCR is currently assisting more than 48,000 refugees in Sierra Leone's camps. Some 5,000 Liberian refugees have returned home in the ongoing facilitated voluntary repatriation that started last October.

By Sulaiman Momodu
UNHCR Sierra Leone




UNHCR country pages


The recording, verifying, and updating of information on people of concern to UNHCR so they can be protected and UNHCR can ultimately find durable solutions.

Sierra Leone: Last Return Convoy from Liberia

On July 21, 2004, the final UNHCR convoy from Liberia crossed over the Mano River bridge into Sierra Leone with 286 returnees. This convoy included the last of some 280,000 refugees returning home after Sierra Leone's brutal 10-year civil war which ended in 2000. Overall, since repatriation began in 2001, UNHCR has helped some 178,000 refugees return home, with a further 92,000 returning spontaneously, without transport assistance from UNHCR.

UNHCR provided returnees with food rations and various non-food items, including jerry cans, blankets, sleeping mats, soap and agricultural tools in order to help them establish their new lives in communities of origin. To promote integration of newly arrived returnees, UNHCR has implemented some 1,000 community empowerment projects nationwide. Programmes include the building and rehabilitation of schools, clinics, water and sanitation facilities, as well as micro-credit schemes and skills training.

UNHCR and its partners, alongside the UN country team and the government, will continue to assist the reintegration of returnees through the end of 2005.

Sierra Leone: Last Return Convoy from Liberia

Statelessness in Viet Nam

Viet Nam's achievements in granting citizenship to thousands of stateless people over the last two years make the country a global leader in ending and preventing statelessness.

Left stateless after the 1975 collapse of the bloody Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, nearly 1,400 former Cambodian refugees received citizenship in Viet Nam in 2010, the culmination of five years of cooperation between the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the Vietnamese government. Most of the former refugees have lived in Viet Nam since 1975, all speak Vietnamese and have integrated fully. Almost 1,000 more are on track to get their citizenship in the near future. With citizenship comes the all-important family registration book that governs all citizens' interactions with the government in Viet Nam, as well as a government identification card. These two documents allow the new citizens to purchase property, attend universities and get health insurance and pensions. The documents also allow them to do simple things they could not do before, such as own a motorbike.

Viet Nam also passed a law in 2009 to restore citizenship to Vietnamese women who became stateless in the land of their birth after they married foreign men, but divorced before getting foreign citizenship for them and their children.

UNHCR estimates that up to 12 million people around the world are currently stateless.

Statelessness in Viet Nam

Keeping Occupied in Turkey's Adiyaman camp for Syrian Refugees

Since the conflict in Syria erupted in April 2011, the government of neighbouring Turkey has established 17 camps in eight provinces to provide safety and shelter to tens of thousands of refugees - three-quarters of them women and children. The camps, including Adiyaman depicted here, provide a place to live and address the basic physical needs of the residents, but they also provide access to health care, education, vocational training and other forms of psychosocial support.

UNHCR teams are present on a regular basis in all the refugee camps and provide technical assistance to the Turkish authorities on all protection-related concerns, including registration, camp management, specific needs and vulnerabilities, and voluntary repatriation. UNHCR has contributed tents, cooking facilities and other relief items. The refugee agency is also working with the government to help an estimated 100,000 Syrian urban refugees. It will continue its material and technical support to help the authorities cope with an increase in arrivals. The following images of camp life were taken by American photographer, Brian Sokol, in Adiyaman camp, located in Turkey's Gaziantep province. At the start of February 2013, nearly 10,000 Syrian refugees were living in the camp.

Keeping Occupied in Turkey's Adiyaman camp for Syrian Refugees

Jordan: New Refugee Registration Centre OpensPlay video

Jordan: New Refugee Registration Centre Opens

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres visits a new registration centre in the Jordanian capital, Amman. The centre was opened to accommodate the growing needs of the many Syrian refugees living in Jordan.