Liberian refugees return home in first airlift from Burkina Faso – UN
A diverse group of over 50 Liberian refugees returned home this week on the first air repatriation of Liberians from Burkina Faso, according to the United Nations refugee agency, which organized the effort.
Those who returned, including students, tailors, professional soccer players, musicians, artists and restaurant owners, boarded an aircraft of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on Tuesday in Ouagadougou and flew to Monrovia, just ahead of the planned end of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) repatriation programme.
The returnees, many of whom had been in exile since the start of the Liberian civil war in late 1989, were accompanied by UNHCR staff members and Liberian refugee officials. They will each receive a return package of food for four months and supplies such as kitchen sets, buckets, mats and plastic sheeting, the agency said.
The returnees will also get a transportation allowance to help them get home, where they will be offered vocational training if needed, but UNHCR said in a news release that many of the returnees have skills that they have used in exile and which could be helpful in rebuilding a country devastated by years of war and destruction.
Hundreds of thousands of Liberian refugees fled their country during the civil war, which ended in 2003. To date, over 103,500 of them have returned home with UNHCR help and many more have made their own way back.