Operation: Opération: Liberia



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Key Figures

2020 year-end results
100% of returns were voluntary and occurred in safety and dignity
83% of the over 29,000 refugees and newly arrived asylum seekers households had their basic household needs met
70% of newly arrived refugees are allowed to live within host communities
60% of primary school-aged children (refugees and newly arrived asylum-seekers) were enrolled in primary education
57% of people of concern were registered on an individual basis with data disaggregated by sex, age, location and diversity
50% of refugees and newly arrived asylum-seekers had access to primary health care
40% of registered refugees and newly arrived asylum-seekers households had access to a handpump for handwashing
15% of refugees and newly arrived asylum-seekers households lived in adequate dwellings
2021 planning figures
4,000 temporary shelter and shelter material kits will be provided to newly-arrived asylum-seekers, while 100% of them will receive core relief items
100% of people of concern to UNHCR who signal their intention to return will be assisted to do so
100%  of people of concern to UNHCR who intended to locally-integrate will receive livelihood grants and 20% of vulnerable host community residents will also benefit from these livelihood grants
100% of asylum-seekers will be biometrically registered and provided with registration documentation
90% of primary school-aged children will be enrolled in primary education

People of Concern Personnes relevant de la compétence du HCR

Increase in
2020 18,901
2019 8,260
2018 9,160


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2020 {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"budget":[23.86090725,16.194818202,11.58006349,11.04161778,11.4859331,11.061781960000001],"expenditure":[13.64310588,9.81885467,7.1905760700000005,7.8313283899999995,10.774006550000001,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[23.86090725,16.194818202,11.58006349,11.04161778,11.4859331,11.061781960000001],"p2":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p3":[null,null,null,null,null,null],"p4":[null,null,null,null,null,null]} {"categories":[2016,2017,2018,2019,2020,2021],"p1":[13.64310588,9.81885467,7.1905760700000005,7.8313283899999995,10.774006550000001,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
  • 2019
  • 2020
  • 2021

Operational context

Liberia offered safe and secure asylum to refugees throughout 2020, despite its limited resources, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. In parallel, Liberia received an influx of Ivorians towards the end of 2020 following the 2020 elections in Côte d’Ivoire. Emergency teams were deployed to register and provide life-saving assistance to some 24,000 new arrivals.

With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and influx of Ivorian refugees, UNHCR shifted it response to prioritize these two emergencies and to support the Government’s response.

The implementation of the five-year national strategy (2019-2023) for the local socio-economic and legal integration of Ivorian refugees was impacted as UNHCR sough to address these two emergencies simultaneously.

Population trends

At the end of 2020, Liberia was host to over 18,901 people of concern, of whom 10,668 were Ivorian asylum-seekers who arrived in 2020. The 117% increase in the number of refugees, from 8,210 in 2019 to 18,901 in 2020 occurred after the elections in Côte d’Ivoire which triggered Ivorians to flee to neighboring Liberia as a pre-emptive measure to avoid post-electoral violence, which continued to rise into 2021. Asylum-seekers sought refuge in bordering rural host communities and in existing refugee settlements.

86% of new arrivals were women and children, as a majority of mothers were forced to flee with their children, leaving their spouses and other male relatives behind. Though borders remained closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as of end 2020, no reports of refoulement were received and new arrivals from Côte d’Ivoire had unhindered access to Liberia.

Of the 8,233 refugees, the vast majority resided in settlements and rural communities, while less than 5% were located in urban areas. Of the approximate 224,000 Ivorian refugees who had fled violence in Côte d’Ivoire in the wake of the presidential elections in 2010 and 2011, only some 8,100 remain.

UNHCR facilitated the return of 149 Ivorian refugees in 2020.

Key achievements

  • 4,083 families of 13,417 individuals were provided with food assistance and 9,217 new arrivals received core relief items including blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, jerry cans, buckets, clothing, facemasks and hand sanitizers for the prevention of COVID-19, as well as sanitary napkins.
  • 9,642 new arrivals were registered in UNHCR’s proGres v4 database at year end.
  • 2,027 (969 female, 1,058 male) refugee and asylum-seeker children were enrolled in primary education, representing an 82% enrolment rate.
  • 41 handpumps were rehabilitated to support newly arrived asylum-seekers from Côte d'Ivoire.
  • 70 durable shelters were provided to 64 refugee families and 16 host families to support local integration.
  • UNHCR installed solar panels and computer labs at the schools, including community colleges, to support students enrolled in online learning programmes.

Unmet needs

As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the erosion of livelihoods combined with weak health systems and low access to education and basic services affected any gains achieved since the Ebola epidemic in 2014-2015. UNHCR’s refugee operation was significantly affected as efforts and funding to support durable solutions in the area of livelihoods, durable shelter construction and cash assistance were diverted.
  • Of the 4,500 people of concern targeted by UNHCR to receive livelihood support, only 2,862 individuals received assistance by year-end.
  • Support in agricultural production could only be provide to 928 out of 1,200 people of concern, leaving 272 individuals needs unmet.
  • Of 1,250 targeted for cash assistance for income-generating activities and small enterprise business training, only 421 were supported.
  • Of the intended 250 individuals targeted for the provision of vocational training, no individuals’ needs were met.
  • Voluntary repatriation was also delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in light of border closures. Only 149 individuals out of these 1,000 originally planned were repatriated.  
  • Access to secondary education opportunities in schools remained constrained, due to a lack in financial and human resources. As a result, a majority of refugee children drop out of school after the 6th or 7th grade.

Use of flexible funding (unearmarked or softly earmarked funding)

  • Flexible funding was used to quicky respond and provide urgent and life-saving support to the Côte d’Ivoire emergency, particularly to improve access to adequate shelter, WASH facilities and health services for refugees and their hosts.
  • UNHCR was also able to immediately respond to COVID-19 prevention measures including information campaigns and distribution of handwashing devices and protective masks, thereby reducing the spread of the virus amongst the refugee population.

Working environment

Liberia continues to offer safe and secure asylum to refugees, despite the vulnerability of the country and its limited resources. The impact of the withdrawal of UNMIL in March 2018 is still felt on the key infrastructure, especially the road network and the health system. The fragile situation created by the current economic situation and the number of people living below the poverty line is threatening the stability of the political and security system in the country.

In its effort to secure durable solutions for Ivorian refugees, including voluntary repatriation of those willing to return and local integration of those unwilling or unable to return, UNHCR continues to assist the governments in the repair of some roads which are used for voluntary repatriation. Upcoming elections in Côte d’Ivoire and in Guinea in 2020 require preparedness work in Liberia with the involvement of various stakeholders. 

The Government of Liberia brought together partners to develop a five-year national strategy (2019-2023) for the local integration of Ivorian refugees. The Government of Liberia provided 315 acres of land provided in Bahn (Nimba) for the local integration of Ivorian refugees.
The Government of Liberia has made a number of pledges to fight against statelessness and is also in the process of mainstreaming Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and the Global Compact on Refugees.

Key priorities

In 2020, UNHCR will focus on:
  • supporting the Government in fulfilling the pledges made towards Statelessness and the Global Refugee Forum;
  • working with the government in finalization of amendment to the refugee law, 1973 Alien and Nationality Laws, domestication of the two statelessness conventions and the Kampala Convention;
  • supporting the Government to achieve the annual milestones agreed under the five-years Local Integration Strategy (2019-2023);
  • continuing to advocate for the absorption of all teachers into the Government payroll and include the schools into the Education Joint Sectoral Review;
  • continuing to advocate the absorption of health staff on the government’s payroll.
  • working with the Government on increasing school enrolment to attain SDGs and the targets of United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework, 2020-2024, and the Pro-Poor Agenda for Prosperity and Development for Liberia;
  • reducing vulnerability and inequality, while empowering women and girls through livelihood activities;
  • building the capacity of the government in taking over the RSD process by 2021.
Latest contributions
  • 15-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 14-OCT-2021
  • Qatar

    private donors

  • 12-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Ireland
  • Italy

    private donors

  • 09-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 08-OCT-2021
  • Japan

    private donors

  • 06-OCT-2021
    United States of America

    private donors

  • 05-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 04-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • 01-OCT-2021

    private donors

  • Germany
  • 30-SEP-2021

    private donors

  • Switzerland

    private donors

  • Brazil

    private donors

  • Philippines

    private donors