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|2019 year-end results|
|2,000||students enrolled in school, an increase of 22%, with near gender parity maintained. A total of 27 students were supported through the DAFI scholarship programme in 2019|
|1,500||refugees returned to Côte d’Ivoire under UNHCR’s assisted voluntary repatriation programme|
|1,100||durable shelter kits were distributed to some 400 households in the PTP settlement. 70 durable shelters were constructed for refugees locally integrating in Bahn settlement. 20% of shelters provided in 2019 benefited host communities to foster peaceful co-existence|
|1,000||households benefitted from livelihood interventions in Grand Gedeh, Maryland, Monrovia and Nimba, including agriculture and business support|
|700||households received cash-based interventions|
|100||cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) (mostly physical assault, psychological and emotional abuse) were reported, and survivors counselled and provided with psychosocial support|
|2020 planning figures|
|100%||of people of concern with intention to return will return voluntarily|
|100%||of people of concern who showed intention to integrate locally receive livelihoods grants as well as 20% vulnerable from the host communities|
|90%||of status determination procedure meets minimum procedural standards advocated by UNHCR|
|80%||of primary school-aged children will be enrolled in primary education|
|20%||of the most vulnerable host community households will receive shelter kits|
|500||shelter maintenance tool kits and materials will be provided|
|200||long-term or permanent shelters will be provided and sustained|
People of Concern
Operational contextThe Government experienced some political and financial challenges in 2019. The “Pro-poor agenda for prosperity and development” was launched at the beginning of the year, while during the second half of 2019 there was a sharp depreciation of the Liberian dollar and inflation rose by 19%, reaching 31% by August, affecting the welfare of both Liberians and refugees.
Despite these challenges, the Government strove to ensure a protective environment for refugees and asylum-seekers, with freedom of movement guaranteed, along with access to education, health care and other basic rights. People of concern remain vulnerable due to the poor economic situation in Liberia, which affected the availability of health, education and other services for Liberians and refugees alike.
Liberia remained engaged at the global level, making pledges focused on integration at the Global Refugee Forum in December 2019, committing to provide access to land, livelihoods and education.
Population trendsAt the end of 2019, Liberia was host to over 8,200 people of concern (98.8% Ivorian refugees, 1% refugees of various nationalities, and 0.2% asylum-seekers). The vast majority resided in settlements and rural communities, while less than 5% were located in urban areas. The 8,100 Ivorians were the remaining population of the approximately 224,000 Ivorians who had fled generalized violence in Côte d’Ivoire in the wake of the presidential elections in 2010 and 2011. The operation facilitated the return of 1,500 Ivorian refugees in 2019.
- A deed of assignment was received for 315 acres of land in Bahn Town for refugees’ benefit; a further 715 acres was under consideration for refugees in Grand Gedeh.
- UNHCR’s involvement in “One UN” activities such as the “Spotlight Initiative” and joint programming on SGBV, resulted in the allocation of $250,000 through UNFPA for the construction of 10 out of 25 planned durable housing units for female survivors of violence.
- Prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse refresher sessions were conducted in all refugees hosting areas.
- UNHCR did not manage to transfer full responsibility for the provision of social and public services to the Government, despite the handover of responsibility for education, health and social protection in 2018, due to insufficient public human and financial resources.
- Despite continuous advocacy on the part of UNHCR, the Liberia Refugee Act, the revised Alien and Nationality Act and the national action plan on statelessness all remained pending, due to lack of prioritization.
- Funding to cover the durable shelter project remained a challenge due to the cost per unit, as well as the numbers needed. UNHCR accordingly sought to adjust its shelter strategy for other settlements such as PTP and Little Wlebo by providing shelter kits however this approach had not yet been accepted by the Government.
- Urban refugees desiring to integrate were not included in shelter support activities, mainly because of land acquisition complexities and higher costs.
Working environmentUNHCR has been providing basic services to refugees in Liberia since 2011, while supporting voluntary repatriation as the primary durable solution for refugees. However, UNHCR is gradually moving towards local integration of those Ivorian refugees opting to stay in Liberia after the ongoing voluntary repatriation exercise has been concluded. UNHCR has also started handing over services such as education, health, WASH and social protection to the respective government ministries. The planned conversion of refugee camps into settlements is also ongoing.
The protection and solutions strategy for the Liberia operation in 2019 has been developed in the context of the UNHCR’s Strategic Directions, 2017-2021, where particular emphasis is placed on five core directions to advance protection and solutions: protect, respond, include, empower and solve refugee issues.
The Government of Liberia remains favourable to local integration of refugees who opt to stay in the country. However, the economy is currently under financial strain and the government will likely not be able to contribute to refugee integration efforts without funding assistance from UNHCR and other agencies. Health, education and social protection services are already integrated into national programmes. UNHCR is committed to covering the costs of teachers, medical staff and drugs in health facilities in refugee-hosting areas in 2019.
UNHCR recognizes that the socio-economic integration of refugees helps prepare them for legal integration in Liberia. In this regard, livelihood activities will be developed through community-based approaches in 2019. These activities are also expected to contribute to building peaceful co-existence between refugee and host communities. Concurrently, the legal reform required for local integration, such as naturalization and/or the issuance of resident permits, will be pursued in 2019 and 2020.
UNHCR will further enhance its partnership with government entities to ensure the inclusion of refugees in existing national social programmes, and the legal representation and protection of rights of refugees, such as protection of women against sexual and gender-based violence, are upheld.
In 2019, UNHCR will:
- Engage in interventions that will support successful local integration of refugees and enhance the capacity of the Government of Liberia to address the needs of people of concern as UNHCR works towards exit strategy by 2021;
- Continue the process of handing over education, health, WASH, social protection and other services to the government by providing the necessary support;
- Transform camps to settlement villages where refugee and host communities will live together, sharing the resources and infrastructure;
- Promote social cohesion among refugees and the host communities through assistance and support using community-based approaches that also benefit some vulnerable individuals among the host communities;
- Focus on shelter construction in Bahn and PTP camps where 880 shelters are expected to be built (230 in Bahn and 650 in PTP) of which 174 will be provided to support the host community (74 in Bahn and 100 in PTP) and 40 for people with specific needs;
- Support livelihoods through the provision of agriculture, fisheries, animal husbandry assets as well as starter kits for small business;
- Implement projects that will benefit both host communities and refugees in an effort to promote peaceful co-existence using community-based approaches;
- Continue advocacy with the government for the passage of an amendment to the 1993 Liberia Refugee Act and the 1973 Aliens and Nationality Law;
- Carry out capacity building for Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) in refugee status determination and registration.