A high profile delegation from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) arrived in the country yesterday, to critically look in to the status and welfare of refugees who are presently receiving assistance from UNHCR and NaCSA
The three durable solutions for refugees across the world include, voluntary repatriation, integration, and resettlement to a third country with selected criteria for beneficiaries geared towards restoring the dignity and protection of refugees.
According to NaCSA and UNHCR officers, they have been working hard to improve the welfare and protection of Liberian refugees in the country, with implementing partners who provide them with food, medicine, income generating activities and capacity building skills for middle level man power development.
Newly appointed NaCSA Programme Manager of the Relief & Resettlement unit James Harding in an interview with this Press said that adequate provisions have been made to improve on the welfare and also empower Liberian Refugees and the host communities particularly for integrating Liberian Refugees in the country.
Integrating Liberian Refugees benefit from packages which include a house, shower and toilet facility and a grant to start up a new career in life.
“We are determined and committed to the improvement of all refugee welfare in Sierra Leone” he said.
He also explained that, both vulnerable and non vulnerable refugees are being catered for by implementing partners such as Caritas, Network Movement for Justice and Development and Help Sierra Leone adding that the Government is also supporting refugees through the National Refugee Authority that is being operated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
The head of UNHCR sub office in Kenema Gabriel Bagui said “we are funding the construction of 250 shelters instead of 400, as earlier planned, due to serious financial and manpower constraints” faced by both NaCSA and UNHCR in providing care and support to Refugees across the country.
He also intimated that, UNHCR and its partners are providing micro – credit loans, skills training and agricultural support to refugees who opted for Local Integration to empower them to become self-reliant and meaningful contributors to community development in their respective areas as a durable solution to refugee welfare. Bagui also disclosed that implementing partners like Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD) have been providing food to vulnerable refugee’s, and they are embarking on gender based violence sensitization while Caritas and MSF is taking care of medical care for the vulnerable and cost recovery for non-vulnerable.
The delegation is expected to meet and discuss with implementing partners and refugees in most of the camps to identify their problems and submit their report to Geneva, so that they can map out solutions to their problems.
It could be recalled some time late last year, refugees in various camps a cross the country were bitterly complaining about the lack of safe drinking water, toilet facilities and poor health care delivery in most of the camps and that some of the shelters for integrating Liberian Refugees have not been completed, while some of the refugees also complained about constant harassment and intimidation in the hands of host communities.