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

UNHCR repatriates 298 Liberian refugees by sea from Ghana

News Stories, 28 July 2006

© UNHCR/N.Jehu-Hoyah
Liberian refugees on a deck of the Brenda Corlett, which sailed out of Tema in Ghana yesterday carrying 298 returnees to Liberia.

TEMA, Ghana, July 28 (UNHCR) After unexpected delays, almost 300 Liberian refugees have finally set sail for home from Ghana aboard a chartered passenger-cargo vessel. The Gambia-registered Brenda Corlett set sail from the port of Tema on Thursday night and was expected to reach the Liberian capital, Monrovia, within four days.

It was the first such return by sea since UNHCR began in February to actively promote voluntary repatriation of Liberian refugees, but there have been three other repatriations by ship from Ghana since UNHCR launched its voluntary repatriation programme in October 2004.

The departure of the 298 Liberians brings the number of people repatriated with UNHCR assistance from Ghana to some 3,800. Others have gone home by air.

The refugees were clearly happy to be going back to a country just starting to recover from years of conflict and devastation. "I really feel happy to be going home. I have not seen my parents for 14 years and finally I will see them," said 28-year-old John Washington, who had worked at a hotel while in Ghana.

Like most of the other refugees boarding the Brenda Corlett, he had lived in the sprawling Buduburam settlement near the Ghanaian capital of Accra.

Washington, who moved to Ghana in 1995 after two years of refuge in Côte d'Ivoire, was realistic about the difficulties he could face in Liberia, where work on rebuilding the shattered economy and infrastructure is only just beginning. "You have to go and look for it [work] and you'll find it. It can be hard, but you'll find it," he said.

UNHCR's representative in Ghana, Aida Haile Mariam, told a dockside press conference that chartering a boat meant the refugees could take home the belongings and possessions they had accumulated during their years in exile. Some had been in Ghana for 16 years.

Mariam also alluded to the challenges ahead for the refugees. "More progress is still needed in Liberia to bring it back to its former glory. But with the civic spirit evident with the departure of these refugees today, we are assured that a complete recovery will be attained," she said.

UNHCR had hoped to organise the return in mid-June, but the trip was delayed. Some of the refugees said they were relieved to be finally leaving.

Mariam said the repatriation programme would "continue with a combination of safe sea and air transportation from Ghana to Liberia, with the air movements being specifically for refugees with special needs. "

On arrival in Monrovia, the UN refugee agency will provide the returnees with an assistance package including food, household items and basic tools to support their reintegration. They will also be given opportunities for skills training.

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.

By Needa Jehu-Hoyah in Tema, Ghana

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Repatriation

UNHCR works with the country of origin and host countries to help refugees return home.

Return to Swat Valley

Thousands of displaced Pakistanis board buses and trucks to return home, but many remain in camps for fear of being displaced again.

Thousands of families displaced by violence in north-west Pakistan's Swat Valley and surrounding areas are returning home under a government-sponsored repatriation programme. Most cited positive reports about the security situation in their home areas as well as the unbearable heat in the camps as key factors behind their decision to return. At the same time, many people are not yet ready to go back home. They worry about their safety and the lack of access to basic services and food back in Swat. Others, whose homes were destroyed during the conflict, are worried about finding accommodation. UNHCR continues to monitor people's willingness to return home while advocating for returns to take place in safety and dignity. The UN refugee agency will provide support for the transport of vulnerable people wishing to return, and continue to distribute relief items to the displaced while assessing the emergency shelter needs of returnees. More than 2 million people have been displaced since early May in north-west Pakistan. Some 260,000 found shelter in camps, but the vast majority have been staying with host families or in rented homes or school buildings.

Return to Swat Valley

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

The UN refugee agency has successfully completed the voluntary repatriation of 38 Tanzanian refugees from Zanzibar who had been residing in the Somalia capital, Mogadishu, for more than a decade. The group, comprising 12 families, was flown on two special UNHCR-chartered flights from Mogadishu to Zanzibar on July 6, 2012. From there, seven families were accompanied back to their home villages on Pemba Island, while five families opted to remain and restart their lives on the main Zanzibar island of Unguja. The heads of households were young men when they left Zanzibar in January 2001, fleeing riots and violence following the October 2000 elections there. They were among 2,000 refugees who fled from the Tanzanian island of Pemba. The remainder of the Tanzanian refugee community in Mogadishu, about 70 people, will wait and see how the situation unfolds for those who went back before making a final decision on their return.

Tanzanian refugees return to Zanzibar

Liberia: Return, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction

Colombia's armed conflict has forced millions of people to flee their homes, including hundreds of thousands who have sought refuge in other countries in the region.

Along the border with Colombia, Panama's Darien region is a thick and inhospitable jungle accessible only by boat. Yet many Colombians have taken refuge here after fleeing the irregular armed groups who control large parts of jungle territory on the other side of the border.

Many of the families sheltering in the Darien are from Colombia's ethnic minorities – indigenous or Afro-Colombians – who have been particularly badly hit by the conflict and forcibly displaced in large numbers. In recent years, there has also been an increase in the numbers of Colombians arriving in the capital, Panama City.

There are an estimated 12,500 Colombians of concern to UNHCR in Panama, but many prefer not to make themselves known to authorities and remain in hiding. This "hidden population" is one of the biggest challenges facing UNHCR not only in Panama but also in Ecuador and Venezuela.

Liberia: Return, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction

South Sudan: No Home To Return ToPlay video

South Sudan: No Home To Return To

Philip and his family fled from their home in the South Sudan town of Bor last December and found shelter in the capital, Juba. Recently they decided to return home, despite the risks. It took three arduous days to get back, but then they got there they found that their home had been destroyed.
Mali: Waiting to ReturnPlay video

Mali: Waiting to Return

After spending months in the central Mali town of Mopti, hundreds of displaced families are anxious to go back to their homes in the north. But security is still a concern.
Mali: Giving Help Play video

Mali: Giving Help

While thousands wait to be able to return to northern Mali , aid agencies continue helping the displaced.