The National Commission for Social Action (NaCSA) in collaboration with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ended a week long participatory assessment for 355 exempted Liberia refugees and other nationals across the country.
UNHCR is focusing more on countries with serious emergency like Syria and Ukraine
The objective of the assessment was to discuss possibilities to ensuring an effective local integration as well as local collection of relevant information of refugees, take collective action to enhance their protection and develop appropriate protection strategies for remaining refugees in the country.
Addressing refugees at Gondama Camp in the Baoma Chiefdom, Bo District, UNHCR Head of National Office, Moijama Siafa, disclosed to the refugees that the UNHCR Office in Sierra Leone is on the verge of closing operations for Sierra Leone. She said the material assistance the Agency used to provide to refuges has been cancelled. Madam Siafa assured that UNHCR will continue to lobby other organizations for funding.
At Gemgbeh and Gerihun Camps, in the Baoma Chiefdom, Bo District, Moijama Siafa reiterated that resettlement has not closed completely but one could be considered on serious security reasons where the government of Sierra Leone cannot provide protection for the individual. She encouraged the refugees to apply online for resettlement across the world.
During a focus group discussion session at Gondama Camp, NaCSA’s Relief and Resettlement Programme Manager, Mohamed U. Koroma informed refugees that resettlement is only applicable where a given state provides space to accommodate refugees to resettle in their country.
He suggested to the refugees to come up with a reasonable amount to be given to them as cash grant for Local Integration; adding that a valid Passport and long-term residence permit would be issued out to them.
In a bid to enable the refugees engage in small scale businesses to enhance their livelihood in their various camps, Four Million Leones was given to each family head in all the camps across the country.
Seiba Kollie an exempted Liberia refugee in Jemgbeh on behalf of colleagues, thanked UNHCR and the implementing partner NaCSA for the money provided them and the establishment of the Village Savings and Lending Association (VSLA). Quoting colleague refugees in other camps across the country, Miss Kollie said the VSLA has improved the lives of refugees immensely in their respective camps.
She called on government to improve on Security and Safety of refugees especially in Jemgbeh which she emphasized are facing serious security challenges.
The mission also undertook field visits to Kono and Bombali districts where they held consultations with representatives of the District Councils and visited selected GPC II projects in Kono District.
According to Paramount Chief Sahr Yongai Kontande Briwa II of Fiama Chiefdom in Kono District, KfW have long been helping the Kono district with recovery and reintegration activities just after the ten years civil war in the country. PC Kontande Briwa II noted that they are joyfully overwhelmed with the rapid growth of infrastructural development made by KfW through the NaCSA - GPC program in some towns and chiefdoms of the district. The Paramount Chief maintained that the construction of bridges, feeder roads and some long lasting strategic structures such as Markets, Grain Stores and Water wells have greatly impacted the lives of the local people in a more positive light. “Through the newly constructed feeder roads by KfW/GPC, towns and villages could be easily accessed, People could now be able to earn more livelihood support by making use of the Markets and Grain store facilities; the project have indeed brought some much changes to our district and we are grateful for that” He added.
It could be recalled that since the restructuring of the GPC programme in 2010, the three districts of Koinadugu, Kailahun and Kono (added under GPC II in 2014) have benefitted from GPC funds. Together these districts have a total of 39 chiefdoms (11 in Koinadugu, 14 in Kailahun and 14 in Kono), of which 24 have so far been targeted by GPC (9 in Koinadugu, 9 in Kailahun and 6 in Kono). This means that 15 chiefdoms will remain unserved by the end of GPC II in mid-2018.
The GPC programme will move out of Koinadugu District at the end of the second phase since the two remaining unserved chiefdoms are mining areas that do not have enough economic potential in terms of the selected value chain (cattle). Kailahun and Kono will remain intervention areas under GPC III, while Bombali District in the north will be added as a new district (thus replacing Koinadugu).
Refugees in the various camps pleaded with UNHCR and NaCSA to improve on their shelters, increase the number water wells and improve sanitation in their various camps.
The findings on the week long assessment will be presented to UNHCR office in Dakar for consideration and action.