After assisting 300,000 Liberians to return home as the country recovers from its brutal, decade-long civil war, the Government of Liberia and the United Nations Mission there (UMIL) today celebrated the end of their aid programme for internally displaced persons (IDPs).
“Today, we are here to celebrate the fact that every Liberian IDP has now been provided with the assistance required to return home,” Jordan Ryan, Deputy Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for Recovery and Governance, said at ceremonies in a former IDP camp 200 kilometers north of the capital, Monrovia, that included the symbolic destruction of an IDP camp hut.
“This was made possible by building and managing camps, feeding, providing water and shelter, but most of all providing a refuge from the dangers of war that they fled from,” he added.
At the end of Liberia’s civil war, there were 314,000 registered IDPs in the country, according to UNMIL. Since the return process began on November 2004, all those living in the country’s 35 IDP camps and spontaneous settlements have received their return assistance package made up of food rations, non-food items and a transportation allowance.
Mr. Ryan reminded donors that the job of resettling the IDPs is not yet finished, however. “Getting back home is just the beginning of a long and difficult journey the IDPs and other members of the community will have to face as they reconstruct their lives, their communities, their country,” he said.
He pledged the continued assistance of the UN in that effort, maintaining that the international community will work hard to support community-based recovery programmes, provide medical assistance and agricultural implements, and ensure that educational facilities are functional.
Similarly, the country representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Mengesha Kebede, called on donor countries to assist the UN “to fulfil its mandate and its commitment to Liberia.”