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2015 UNHCR country operations profile - Liberia

| Overview |

Working environment

UNHCR 2015 Liberia country operations map

  • Liberia is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, its 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 OAU Convention. Liberia is also signatory to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

  • UNHCR's operation in Liberia revolves around two main strategies: continued provision of protection and assistance to refugees and the pursuit of, and support for, voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees. With more and more Ivorian refugees willing to return, voluntary repatriation will remain a UNHCR priority in Liberia.

  • Should the Ebola virus outbreak continue, UNHCR will continue to collaborate with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare on the integration of refugees into the national Ebola virus disease response plan and increased access to the Ministry's services.

  • UNHCR foresees two particular challenges in 2015: the spread of the Ebola virus and the organization of elections in Côte d'Ivoire, which could result in insecurity in border areas and the potential arrival of refugees in Liberia.

People of concern

The main populations of concern in Liberia are: Ivorian refugees who fled primarily as a result of the 2010 post-electoral crisis in their country; urban refugees of mixed nationalities such as Sierra Leoneans, Guineans and Sudanese, as well as former Sierra Leonean refugees who opted for local integration in Liberia. Some of them are in the process of naturalization, while others are waiting for residence permits.

UNHCR 2015 planning figures for Liberia
Type of population Origin January 2015 December 2015
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total in country Of whom assisted
Total 54,850 36,210 38,850 20,210
* The above population planning figures are subject to change as a result of the Ebola virus disease outbreak.
Refugees Côte d'Ivoire 52,790 34,140 36,790 18,140
Sierra Leone 380 380 380 380
Various 80 80 80 80
Asylum-seekers Nigeria 10 10 10 10
Syrian Arab Rep. 10 10 10 10
Togo 10 10 10 10
Various 30 30 30 30
Others of concern Sierra Leone 1,540 1,540 1,540 1,540

| Response |

Needs and strategies

The Ebola outbreak in 2014 led the Government of Liberia to declare a state of emergency, including the closure of borders with Côte d'Ivoire. UNHCR has therefore been reviewing its strategy in Liberia, particularly with regard to voluntary repatriation. In the latter part of 2015, UNHCR will redirect its strategic focus to pursuing durable solutions, in particular voluntary repatriation alongside resettlement as a strategic protection tool.

UNHCR and its partners will continue to provide access to self-reliance and skills-training opportunities for refugees, in order to mitigate the emerging trends of survival-sex work, gender-based violence, and teenage pregnancies, as well as criminal activities, among the adolescent population.

In the first six months of 2014, UNHCR facilitated the repatriation of 12,000 refugees, mainly from Côte d'Ivoire, despite the closure of the borders. With Ivorian refugees increasingly willing to return, and once voluntary repatriation resumes, UNHCR is anticipating that the camp population will decrease in 2015. It envisages the consolidation of camps, with the closure of the Little Wlebo camp in Maryland County and the transformation of Bahn Camp in Nimba County into a local settlement site, under the authorities' supervision.

| Implementation |


UNHCR will collaborate with the Government's refugee agency, the Liberian Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, as well as UN agencies and NGOs, to provide protection and assistance to refugees in Liberia. Bi-weekly coordination meetings will be held in all refugee camps, to ensure a harmonized response and avoid gaps.

In 2015, UNHCR and its partners will place emphasis on access to self-reliance and skills-training opportunities for refugees in Liberia.

2015 UNHCR partners in Liberia
Implementing partners
Government agencies: Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission
NGOs: Adventist Development and Relief Agency, Africa Humanitarian Action, African Initiatives for Relief and Development, CARE International, Caritas, Danish Refugee Council, International Rescue Committee, Save the Children International, Special Emergency Activity to Restore Children's Hope
Operational partners
Government agencies: Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization, Liberia National Police, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Public Works
NGOs: Finn Church Aid, Medical Teams International

| Financial information |

The 2010 Ivorian refugee influx saw the Liberia operation's budget allocation increase significantly. Since 2011, there has been a steady decline in the requirements for the refugee programme. In 2015, the operation will require USD 25.3 million to address needs mainly related to health, water and sanitation, gender-based violence, education, livelihoods and durable solutions. A funding shortfall would dramatically affect the repatriation programme, as well as assistance provided to refugees in Liberia. It should be noted that, with the Ebola outbreak, additional resources may be required in the first half of 2015 to provide shelter and food assistance, and strengthen camp health, water and sanitation facilities.

Source: UNHCR Global Appeal 2015 Update

UNHCR contact information

The UNHCR Representation in Liberia
Style of Address The UNHCR Representative in Liberia
Street Address Haider Building, Mamba Point, Monrovia, Liberia
Mailing Address P.O. Box 9077, Monrovia, Liberia
Telephone 41 22 739 7286
Facsimile 41 22 739 7287
Time Zone GMT + 0
Working Hours
Monday:08:00 - 17:00
Tuesday:08:00 - 17:00
Wednesday:08:00 - 17:00
Thursday:08:00 - 17:00
Public Holidays 01 January 2016, New years day
09 March 2016, decoration day
25 March 2016, good friday
14 May 2016, unification day
07 July 2016, eid al fitr
26 July 2016, independence day
24 August 2016, national flag day
13 September 2016, eid al adha
03 November 2016, thanks giving
25 December 2016, christmas



UNHCR contact information

Statistical Snapshot*
* As at June 2015
  1. Country or territory of asylum or residence.
  2. Persons recognized as refugees under the 1951 UN Convention/1967 Protocol, the 1969 OAU Convention, in accordance with the UNHCR Statute, persons granted a complementary form of protection and those granted temporary protection. It also includes persons in a refugee-like situation for whom refugee status has, for practical or other reasons, not been ascertained. In the absence of Government figures, UNHCR has estimated the refugee population in many industrialized countries based on 10 years of individual asylum-seeker recognition.
  3. Persons whose applications for asylum or refugee status are pending as at 30 June 2015 at any stage in the asylum procedure.
  4. Refugees who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015. Source: country of origin and asylum.
  5. Persons who are displaced within their country and to whom UNHCR extends protection and assistance. It also includes people in IDP-like situations. This category is descriptive in nature and includes groups of persons who are inside their country of nationality or habitual residence and who face protection risks similar to those of IDPs but who, for practical or other reasons, could not be reported as such.
  6. IDPs protected/assisted by UNHCR who have returned to their place of origin during the first half of 2015.
  7. Refers to persons who are not considered as nationals by any State under the operation of its law. This category refers to persons who fall under the agency's statelessness mandate because they are stateless according to this international definition, but data from some countries may also include persons with undetermined nationality.
  8. Refers to individuals who do not necessarily fall directly into any of the other groups but to whom UNHCR may extend its protection and/or assistance services. These activities might be based on humanitarian or other special grounds.
The data are generally provided by Governments, based on their own definitions and methods of data collection.
A dash (-) indicates that the value is zero, not available or not applicable.

Source: UNHCR/Governments.
Compiled by: UNHCR, FICSS.
Residing in Liberia [1]
Refugees [2] 38,904
Asylum Seekers [3] 18
Returned Refugees [4] 6
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Stateless Persons [7] 1
Various [8] 1,479
Total Population of Concern 40,408
Originating from Liberia [1]
Refugees [2] 13,570
Asylum Seekers [3] 2,355
Returned Refugees [4] 6
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) [5] 0
Returned IDPs [6] 0
Various [8] 9
Total Population of Concern 15,940

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Refugees move to new camp in Liberia

UNHCR has begun transferring refugees from Côte d'Ivoire to a new refugee camp in the north-eastern Liberian town of Bahn. Over the coming weeks UNHCR hopes to move up to 15,000 refugees into the facility, which has been carved out of the jungle. They are among almost 40,000 civilians from Côte d'Ivoire who have fled to escape mounting political tension in their country since the presidential election in late November.

The final number of people to move to Bahn will depend on how many wish to be relocated.from villages near the Liberia-Côte d'Ivoire border. Initially most of the refugees were taken in by host communities, living side-by-side with locals. Poor road conditions made it difficult for humanitarian agencies to deliver assistance. Supplies of food, medicine and water have been running low, making conditions difficult for both locals and refugees.

At the camp in Bahn, refugees will have easy access to basic services such as health care, clean water and primary school education.

Refugees move to new camp in Liberia

New flows of Ivorian refugees into Liberia

As of late March, more than 100,000 Ivorian refugees had crossed into eastern Liberia since lingering political tension from a disputed presidential election in neighbouring Côte d' Ivoire erupted into violence in February. Most have gone to Liberia's Nimba County, but in a sign that the fighting has shifted, some 6,000 Ivorians recently fled across the border into Liberia's Grand Gedeh County. Most of the new arrivals have settled in remote villages - some inaccessible by car. The UN refugee agency sent a mission to assess the needs of the refugees in the region.

Photographer Glenna Gordon photographed new arrivals near Zwedru in south-eastern Liberia.

New flows of Ivorian refugees into Liberia

Photo Gallery: The Challenge of Forced Displacement in Africa

Africa is the continent most affected by the tragedy of forced displacement. While millions of refugees were able to return to Angola, Burundi, Liberia, Rwanda and South Sudan over the last 15 years, the numbers of internally displaced people continued to grow. At the beginning of 2009, in addition to some 2.3 million refugees, an estimated 11.6 million people were internally displaced by conflict in Africa.

To address forced displacement on the continent, the African Union is organizing a special summit on refugees, returnees and internally displaced people from October 19-23 in the Ugandan capital, Kampala. Heads of state and government will look at the challenges and at ways to find solutions to forced displacement. They are also expected to adopt a Convention for the protection and assistance of internally displaced people (IDP) in Africa, which would be the first legally binding instrument on internal displacement with a continental scope. This photo gallery looks at some of the forcibly displaced around Africa, many of whom are helped by UNHCR.

Photo Gallery: The Challenge of Forced Displacement in Africa

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

Liberia: A Neighbour's HelpPlay video

Liberia: A Neighbour's Help

Alphonse Gonglegbe fled to Liberia with his family a few months ago. He appreciates the help he's been receiving in this land neighbouring his native Côte d'Ivoire.
Liberia: Hurried FlightPlay video

Liberia: Hurried Flight

Tens of thousands of Ivorians have fled their villages and sought shelter in Liberia. Francis says he ran for his life and now he wants safety and food.
Liberia: Settling InPlay video

Liberia: Settling In

A dozen new shelters are built every day in Liberia's Bahn refugee camp. Eventually there will be 3,000 shelters for some of the many civilians who have fled from neighbouring Côte d'Ivoire.
Liberia: Arrival at Bahn CampPlay video

Liberia: Arrival at Bahn Camp

UNHCR has opened a new camp for up to 15,000 Ivorian refugees at Bahn in eastern Liberia. Follow the arrival of the first group.
Liberia: Ivorians on the RunPlay video

Liberia: Ivorians on the Run

More than 25,000 civilians from Côte d'Ivoire have fled to the safety of Liberia. UNHCR is helping local communities cope.
Liberia: Providing RefugePlay video

Liberia: Providing Refuge

UNHCR is building a camp in north-eastern Liberia to shelter thousands of refugees from Côte d'Ivoire. The local community is giving a helping hand.