News Stories, 20 March 2007
MONROVIA, Liberia, March 20 (UNHCR) – The government of Japan has donated US$2.5 million dollars to UNHCR for the agency's programmes aimed at ensuring the sustainable return of Liberian refugees from neighbouring Guinea.
Japanese Ambassador Masamichi Ishikawa and UNHCR Representative Mengesha Kebede signed documents on the grant during a ceremony yesterday in Monrovia. The money will be used to repatriate refugees by road from Guinea and to help build or rehabilitate facilities and services in areas of high return.
"I strongly believe that Liberia is on the right track towards consolidation of peace and future prosperity. It is in this light, that my government is extending this donation to enable UNHCR to carry out its reintegration programme effectively," Ishikawa said.
The Japanese envoy said his country's contribution would help cover the construction of health facilities, shelters and educational facilities in Liberia as well as support the operations of non-governmental organisations involved in protection, monitoring and coordination of refuge-related activities. Some US$500,000 would be used to transport refugees back home from Guinea.
It is essential that basic services and infrastructure be put in place in war-battered Liberia if returnees are to be successfully reintegrated after years in exile. UNHCR and is implementing partners have provided many new facilities to make life easier for the returnees and for the receiving communities.
Since October 2004, UNHCR has repatriated more than 90,000 Liberian refugees – over half of them from Guinea. The refugee agency has also helped more than 300,000 internally displaced Liberians return home.
"UNHCR involvement in the repatriation process is time limited, but we have a commitment to the people that have come back home all over Liberia to ensure the sustainability of return," said UNHCR's Kebede, while thanking Japan for its continuing support.
The UN refugee agency is seeking US$32.3 million from donors this year for its regular Liberia programmes.
By Sarah F. Brownell in Monrovia, Liberia