By R. Joyclyn Wea
The Government of Liberia (GoL) through the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) has issued certificate of citizenship to at least 50 former Sierra Leonean refugees who have expressed desire to be citizens of the country.
This is said to mark the beginning of government’s commitment to the domestication of all international instruments, conventions, protocols and treaties since Liberia is signatories to said instruments.
The history of the little over 100,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in Liberia allegedly started in 1991 through a prima facie recognition.
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the government of Liberia ended voluntary repatriation for more than 95,000 Sierra Leonean refugees by the end of June 2004; and the subsequent revoking of Sierra Leonean refugee prima facie recognition through the cessation clause leaving a residual caseload around 3,600 in 2008.
Speaking at the certification ceremony held in Bentol City Montserrado County, LRRRC Executive Director, Festus Logan said the issuance of certificate of citizenship to the first 50 former Sierra Leonean refugees marks the beginning of the pro-poor government unfinished commitment to the domestication of all international instruments, conventions, protocols and treaties.
Director Logan further explained that the rebranding of the LRRRC under the CDC led government will take full control of the mandate and core functions in addressing the issues and emerging issues relating to their sustainable local integration for 10,000 Ivorian refugees.
The 4,000 DED Liberians in the USA, 11,788 stranded Liberian migrants in Africa and other parts of the world, for humanitarian protection and support with reference to the Kampala Convention which Liberia is signatory, he further added.
Director Logan however, revealed that there are more than 40,000 flood Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) survivals affected by recent flood disaster; and the relocation assistance to beneficiaries from West Point and rural housing program and other associated with relocation of persons is as a result of road infrastructure development.
The LRRRC boss asserted that in response to President Weah’s mandate and the Commission’s five years plan-pillar one and SDG 1,2, and 3, the LRRRC is honor by Weah to plant the first seed in Liberia returnees’ reintegration multiplication nursery and farmer field school platform.
He indicated that the program will be rollout in the seven local integration counties to help train communion farmers in new planting methods and give them free improved seeding and cassava cutting to promote food security.
Accordingly, the residual caseload of sierra Leonean refugees enrolled into the duration solution options at the end of 2008; in which 1,727 former Sierra Leonean refugees were locally integrated at the following locations low cost village, Bentol, Blamacee, Brewerville, Montserrado County, Sasstown, Bomi County, Tenneh and Senji in Grand Cape Mount County.
The last batches of residual caseload of 375 Sierra Leonean refugees opted for resettlement through refugee status determination (RSD), but were exempted.
Additionally, Mr. Logan recognizes the UNHCR which is the traditional partner of the Commission, hardworking staffs of the LRRRC and person of concerns to the government and people of Liberia for their usual kind hospitality in providing an international protection as a national internal displace people with special needs, migrants and other persons of concern.
“Again, I must also place on record the government of Liberia appreciation of the UNHCR and her donors for the close partnership and collaboration with the LRRRC, MIA, and LIS in facilitation and implementing local integration for 300 former Sierra Leonean refugees, which consist of men, women, youth and children,” he added.
Receiving the former Sierra Leonean refugees as citizens of Liberia, the minster of internal affairs (MOIA), Varney Sirleaf noted that the certification of those 50 former Sierra Leonean refugee as citizens of Liberia demonstrates the relationship that exist between that sisterly nation Sierra Leone and Liberia.
He added that this is as the result of good will of the government and people Liberia.
Accordingly, President George Weah lauded the ministry of internal affairs (MIA) for finding place to make those Sierra Leonean citizens.
He stressed the need for that Sierra Leonean given Liberia citizenship to act in line with the law of the country saying “now that you are holding Liberian citizenship behave as good citizens because you will now be guided and judge by the laws of Liberia.”