The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in collaboration with the National Commission for Social Action (NACSA) have briefed journalist on the status of Repatriation and Reintegration of Refugees in the Country.
Speaking at the press briefing at NACSA headquarters in Freetown, Deputy Commissioner of NACSA, Charles Rogers, reiterated the need to dialogue with the media to share relevant information on their activities for a better understanding of their mandate. He disclosed that, “Liberian Refugees must pay taxes”
UNHCR Senior Protection Officer, Barrister Veronica Modey Ebi explained their mandate, which she said, is to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees.
She maintained that UNHCR’s primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees as they strive to ensure that every one can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another state and return home voluntarily.
She noted that UNHCR works in partnership with government, regional organizations, international and non -governmental organizations; adding that consulting refugees on decisions that affect their lives commit UNHCR to the principle of participation.
NACSA Director of Reintegration and Resettlement, Sidi Bah gave an overview and status of Local Integration and presented a breakdown of 190 refugee families who have been provided with shelter, water and sanitation, income-generating activities, skills training and start –up kits.
He disclosed that the reintegration program also include community-based programs for the receiving host communities as they provide land for the construction of houses, latrines, water wells and other agricultural purposes. He made mention of the expansion of school buildings and provision of school furniture in a bid to increase the absorption capacities of the host community schools; adding that essential drugs have been provided in the Bo and Kenema Government Hospitals and other Health Clinics.
Philip Neville of SLAJ commended NACSA and UNHCR for clarifying certain issues related to refugees and displaced persons, with particular reference to the reparation funds. It could be recalled that some Liberian Refugees have been complaining about lack of support and care coupled with alleged intimidation and constant harassment which resulted to some of them receiving Police Protection at the Gondama Refugee camp. By Saidu Bah