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More than 100,000 Liberians repatriated with UNHCR help

News Stories, 5 June 2007

© UNHCR/E.Compte Verdaguer
Liberian refugees disembark from a UNHCR convoy after crossing the border from Sierra Leone. UNHCR has helped 100,000 Liberians return home, most of them on trucks like these.

LIBERIA, June 5 (UNHCR) The number of UNHCR-assisted returns to Liberia passed the 100,000 mark on Tuesday with the arrival of a convoy carrying scores of returnees from neighbouring Sierra Leone.

The landmark convoy bearing more than 250 returning refugees entered Liberia at the Bo Waterside border crossing. Government officials, UNHCR representatives and humanitarian workers attended a welcoming ceremony at the nearby Sinje transit centre. Further details were not immediately available.

In a related development, two UNHCR-organized flights last Saturday brought home 33 Liberian urban refugees from the capital of Guinea, Conakry. "I am glad to return to my country after 14 years of exile in Guinea", said 70-year-old Sia Fanio before boarding one of the flights.

Another returnee, Aminata Camara, said her decision to return was prompted by economic hardship. "I cannot earn anything in Conakry and that is why I prefer to return home," she said, adding that she hoped to open a small business back home in the town of Kakata.

The Liberian repatriation has been one of the largest UNHCR operations in Africa for the past two-and-a-half years and it is scheduled to end on June 30. Since the cut-off date was announced, growing numbers of Liberians have expressed a desire to return home with UNHCR help by air, sea and road.

Since the start of the Liberian repatriation operation in October 2004, more than 150,000 refugees have returned to Liberia. In addition to 100,000 returns assisted by UNHCR half of them from neighbouring Guinea another 50,000 Liberian refugees returned home on their own over the past few years, encouraged by the restoration of peace and the inauguration of the democratically elected president and government.

In Liberia, UNHCR has been also involved in the return of some 314,000 internally displaced persons to their areas of origin. This programme was successfully completed in April last year. Liberian internally displaced had been living in camps, mainly around the capital Monrovia, during the more than decade-long Liberian conflict.

UNHCR has returned Liberian refugees by air, sea and road from all the neighbouring countries and the region. On arrival, refugees are provided with a transportation grant, food and a number of household items.

© UNHCR/S.F.Brownell
These triplets were among the Liberian refugees returning home by road from Sierra Leone. The Fumba family were reluctant to return earlier because of concerns about the health and education of the trio.

Reintegration and improving livelihoods of returnees have been long-term key priorities for UNHCR. The agency and its partners have been repairing shelters, roads, wells, schools and clinics. It has also provided vocational training programmes, which in turn have been helping to secure much-needed jobs in the community.

Following the end of the organized repatriation, UNHCR and those countries still hosting thousands of Liberian refugees are preparing to embark on long-term programmes aimed at their local integration. The ultimate goal of these programmes will be to bring the displacement chapter in West Africa to a successful closure.

There are still some 83,000 Liberian refugees in West Africa. More than 23,000 remain in Ghana, 22,000 in Côte d'Ivoire, 15,000 in Sierra Leone, 15,000 in Guinea, some 4,000 in Nigeria, and the rest are scattered in other countries of the region.




UNHCR country pages


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

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo

The UN refugee agency has resumed a voluntary repatriation programme for Angolan refugees living in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Some 43,000 Angolans have said they want to go back home under a project that was suspended four years ago for various reasons. A first group of 252 Angolan civilians left the UNHCR transit centre in the western DRC town of Kimpese on November 4, 2011 They crossed the border a few hours later and were warmly welcomed by officials and locals in Mbanza Congo. In the first two weeks of the repatriation operation, more than 1,000 Angolan refugees returned home from the DRC provinces of Bas-Congo in the west and Katanga in the south. Out of some 113,000 Angolan refugees living in neighbouring countries, 80,000 are hosted by the DRC.

UNHCR resumes return operation for 43,000 Angolans in DR Congo

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

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