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Liberia: Voluntary repatriation operation passes 50,000

Briefing notes

Liberia: Voluntary repatriation operation passes 50,000

3 March 2006

Our voluntary repatriation operation for Liberian refugees in West Africa crossed the 50,000 mark last month, with an average of 250 people a day choosing to return to Liberia. To date, more than 52,000 people have been assisted to return since UNHCR launched the operation in October 2004. Many others have returned to Liberia spontaneously. In total, more than 350,000 refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have received direct assistance to resettle from camps and urban centres.

The positive changes that have been taking place in Liberia prompted a shift last month in UNHCR policy. Instead of just "facilitating" return, we are now actively promoting voluntary repatriation for an estimated 180,000 Liberian refugees still outside their homeland. UNHCR anticipates that up to 100,000 refugees will return in 2006.

UNHCR transports registered refugees by air, sea and road. On arrival, they are provided with a transportation grant, food and domestic items. Reintegration and long-term sustainability remain key priorities. UNHCR and its partners are implementing reintegration projects to boost the capacity of local communities to receive the returning population. Such projects include repair of shelters, roads, water points, schools and clinics, as well as vocational training programmes, which in turn, provide much-needed jobs in the community