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Almost 300 Liberian refugees arrive home on chartered vessel

News Stories, 31 July 2006

© UNHCR/N.Jehu-Hoyah
Liberian refugees on the Brenda Corlett, which docked in Monrovia on Monday morning. Top officials attended a colourful welcoming ceremony for the 298 returnees.

MONROVIA, Liberia, July 31 (UNHCR) A group of 298 Liberian refugees arrived home on Monday morning aboard a chartered passenger-cargo vessel. The Gambia-registered Brenda Corlett docked in Monrovia after settling sail from the Ghanaian port of Tema last Thursday.

Liberian Vice-President Joseph Boakai and Minister of Internal Affairs Ambulai Johnson attended a colourful welcoming ceremony. The returnees went through medical screening and proceeded to a transit centre to receive their reintegration packages.

These include food rations for four months, blankets, sleeping mats, cooking utensils, sanitary towels 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 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 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.

By Needa Jehu-Hoyah in Monrovia, Liberia

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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

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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

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