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World Refugee Day 2004: Liberia

World Refugee Day 2004: Liberia

20 June 2004


On 5 June, refugee children from Sierra Leone got together with Liberian child returnees to discuss future repatriation and reintegration activities specific to children amid mass movements in the region. About 100 children from the community and from refugee camps gathered at the Gender Ministry in Monrovia to discuss their future plans.

The forum was chaired by Patient, the 13-year-old president of the Liberian Children's Parliament. After a general introduction, the children split into five working groups to discuss in detail issues such as repatriation, reintegration and family reunification. The refugee children shared their experiences with Liberian children who had just come back from refugee camps in Sierra Leone, giving each other encouragement and support.

Together they came up with solutions to their common problems. They also proposed establishing recreational facilities, abolishing traditional practices like female genital mutilation, early marriage, as well as promoting safe and organised repatriation.

On 16 June, UNHCR worked with UNICEF to observe the Day of the African Child. The keynote message was related to the World Refugee Day theme, "A Place to Call Home". Posters and drawings depicting children's impressions of the day were on display.

On 18 June, UNHCR and its government counterpart, LRRRC, distributed clothes to Liberian returnees and IDPs at the Redemption Hospital.

On 20 June, in Saclepea, the celebration of World Refugee Day started with a march from the refugee camp to the city centre to thank the people and the leadership of Saclepea as well as the Liberian government for the hospitality extended to the refugees.

The march was followed by several activities such as cultural performances, drama, sporting events and exhibition of items produced by the refugees, like agricultural and bakery products, handicrafts and an assortment of clothing. A group of Ivorian refugee youth traditional dancers performed various plays and songs from their home country.

Furthermore, a radio station aired live interviews on various aspects of assistance to refugees, IDPs and host community. A football match among the Ivorian refugee population was the highlight of the day. All the events were organized to draw attention to the need to find solutions for refugees, either through repatriation, integration in the host country, or resettlement in another country.

In Zwedru/Harper, a mural created by the community was set up in the centre of town. The mural depicted perceptions of the theme, "A Place to Call Home". Smile FM in Zwedru broadcast Ivorian songs composed by refugees.

In Bopolu/Tubmanburg, the day commenced in the cinema building of Tubmanburg. The programme, which aimed at raising awareness of the role of UNHCR in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount and Gbarpolu counties, brought together some 300 residents of Tubmanburg town and surroundings, returnees, displaced people and refugees.

The day was also celebrated in Totota, Salala and Tumutu with a series of sport events as well as a parade and cultural performances.