Operation: Opération: Liberia



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Key Figures

2017 year-end results
7,640 refugees returned to Côte d’Ivoire under UNHCR’s assisted voluntary repatriation programme
3,620 refugee children were enrolled in school in the three camps
250 protection cases were reported and assisted
24 refugee students were supported for tertiary education through the DAFI programme
18 people with specific needs (PSNs) were provided with material assistance, such as crutches and wheelchairs
2018 planning figures
100% of local integration strategy will be established and endorsed by refugees, development actors, government and other relevant stakeholders
2,150 refugee children aged 3-5 will be enrolled in early childhood education
700 refugee household will receive support for long-term or permanent shelter
400 refugee children will be registered and issued documentation under regular birth registration procedure
15 peaceful coexistence projects will be implemented

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Decrease in
2017 11,533
2016 20,486
2015 38,058


[["Refugees",11126],["Asylum-seekers",33],["Others of concern",374]]
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2017 {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"budget":[42.55998615,35.95709935,34.164707281,23.86090725,16.194818202,11.58006349],"expenditure":[22.36514474,18.86138998,15.36285384,13.64310588,9.81885467,null]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[42.55998615,35.95709935,34.164707281,23.86090725,16.194818202,11.58006349],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2013,2014,2015,2016,2017,2018],"p1":[22.36514474,18.86138998,15.36285384,13.64310588,9.81885467,null],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]}
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  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018

Operational context

The 2017 presidential elections in Liberia resulted in a peaceful transition from Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Unity Party), who presided Liberia for 12 years and led the country’s transition from a 14-year civil war, to George M. Weah (Coalition for Democratic Change).
Due to the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) drawdown, the Government had to increase its support in the security sector and on civil administration. The withdrawal of the UNMIL forces raised some concerns about the capacity of the police and military to face future security challenges. Despite the reduction of UN presence, the UN Security Council members have continued to emphasize their support for Liberia’s peacebuilding efforts.
Rule of law is not enforced effectively across the country. Combined with weak property rights and lack of transparency in the legal system, these challenges seriously impeded private-sector development. Despite reform efforts, systemic corruption increases the cost of business and deters much-needed long-term investment.
UNHCR’s operational environment was challenged by the discontinuation of services UNMIL was providing. Road repairs carried out by UNMIL engineers and air services to access Maryland and Grand Geddeh stopped and maintenance was not taken over by the Government of Liberia. This affected UNHCR’s work significantly, especially the carrying out of repatriation programmes.
A favourable protection environment allowed 18 asylum-seekers to access asylum in Liberia in 2017. Sustained peace and security in Côte d’Ivoire enabled the operation to pursue voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees in Liberia.

Population trends

By the end of 2017, there were close to 11,200 refugees, of whom 99 per cent were from Côte d’Ivoire. These 11,100 Ivorians are the remaining population of the approximately 224,000 Ivorians who fled the generalized violence that occurred in Côte d’Ivoire in the wake of the presidential elections in 2010 and 2011. In follow-up to the resumption of voluntary repatriation in December 2015, the operation facilitated the return of more than 7,600 Ivorian refugees in safety and dignity in 2017.

Key achievements

  • UNHCR facilitated the return of some 7,640 Ivorian refugees to Côte d’Ivoire, including 43 unaccompanied children who were reunited with their families.
  • A resettlement mission to train staff and counsel refugees on managing expectations for resettlement took place from 25 June to 5 July 2017.
  • As part of the local integration process for Ivorian refugees unwilling to return, the Ivorian school curriculum was replaced with a Liberian curriculum as of February 2017. Schools set up for refugees were included in the Education Management Information System (EMIS) and are now functioning as public schools. This integration would give refugee students a more sustainable and nationally recognized education platform, as well as opportunities to go beyond basic education.
  • UNHCR started the mainstreaming of social protection cases into the national structures in consultation with the Ministry of Gender and Social Affairs. 
  • For Sierra Leonean refugees exempted from the cessation in 2008, local integration is also being considered as durable solution.
  • Advocacy continued towards the reform of the Alien and Nationality Law (ANL) to remove gender bias and other discriminatory provisions. By the end of 2017, the draft of the amended law was adopted by stakeholders and shared with the Minister of Justice to be taken to the Cabinet. If approved, this draft will be shared with the National Legislature in the first quarter of 2018.

Unmet needs

  • More funds were needed for a full integration of schools into the national system. With no financial support from the Government to run the refugee schools, UNHCR committed to paying salaries of 47 Liberian teachers until their inclusion in the Government payroll. Considering the limited resources available, other activities had to be deprioritized.
  • Limited access to secondary education in the camps continued to be a challenge. However, the Ministry of Education is expected to align grades 7 to 9 in the refugee schools with the Liberian education requirements.
  • Support for 28 foster families was reduced and, as a result, families were reluctant to continue fostering unaccompanied and separated children (UASC). 
  • Funding allocated to PSNs was inadequate to cover their needs, and this resulted in a lack of sustainable material and livelihood support.
  • Due to inadequate funding, UNHCR was unable to assist adequately the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission  (LRRRC) to improve its RSD and appeal capacities as well as issuance of machine-readable Convention Travel Documents (CTDs).
  • UNHCR was not able to provide adequate self-reliance support to ensure the local integration of 374 Sierra Leoneans.

Working environment

The 2011 elections in Liberia provided an important basis to establish sustainable democratic governance, national integration and economic development for the country, following the two-decade civil war. The country suffered because of Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak and remained very low on human development index, positioned at 177 out of 188 countries. With the withdrawal of the United Nations Mission in Liberia by June 2016, the Liberian population remained concerned about the capacity of the national security forces to adequately maintain law and order in the country.

The judicial, legal, health, education, employment and social welfare structures at the local level in Liberia continue to lack capacity, and require considerable support to be able  to effectively assist people of concern to UNHCR and Liberian nationals alike. The lack of capacity of key Government structures will impact the rate and level of integration of refugee education and health sectors that have been earmarked for local integration. Considerable financial and capacity building resources will be required from UNHCR for mainstreaming education, health and water and sanitation (WASH).

Key priorities

In 2017, UNHCR’s operation in Liberia will focus on the following areas:
•    Voluntary return and local integration of Ivorian refugees: UNHCR will assist 8,000 refugees to return to Côte d’Ivoire in 2017, while it is anticipated that around 5,000 refugees may opt to remain and pursue local integration in Liberia;
•    In line with its alternatives to camps policy, UNHCR will convert refugee camps into settlements and surrounding communities will have full access to services in these settlements. Health, education and WASH sectors will be mainstreamed using community-based approach for sustainability and peaceful coexistence;
•    The prevention of statelessness. The Office will continue to advocate for birth registration, documentation and amendments to nationality laws to prevent and reduce statelessness;
•    Continuous registration, verification and update of refugee data will be maintained ensuring that access to territory and civil status documentation is upheld.