Sirleaf’s Tour of the Southeast Offers Chance to see plight of Ivorian Refugees
Zwedru – Grand Gedeh County – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf over the weekend visited several districts in Grand Gedeh County, hosting thousands of refugees fleeing the political crisis in neighboring Cote d’Ivoire. Accompanied by officials of Liberian and International relief agencies, the President made stops at a Liberia Repatriation & Resettlement Commission Compound in Zwedru, home to refugees who have settled on the compound since 2002.
An Executive Mansion dispatch says the President also visited refugee transit centers in the towns of Zai, Zleh and Toe, a major transit point for refugees fleeing the recent political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire. Toe town, UNHCR sources says, is hosting the highest number of refugees in Grand Gedeh County.
The President, during interaction with refugees at the various centers, expressed regrets over the situation which has forced them to seek refuge in Liberia. The President hoped for a speedy return to normalcy of the political crisis in Cote d’Ivoire to enable the refugees to return home.
The Liberian leader assured the refugees, mostly women and children, of Government’s protection during their stay in the country. She informed the refugees that Government is working with local and international refugee agencies to provide more suitable resettlement centers for them, urging for understanding and patience while the efforts are being exerted.
The President said Government will provide tools and seeds for the refugees to engage in farming activities. “That is the only way you can sustain yourselves and achieve self-dependency,” the President noted.
The President also assured the refugees that Government would work in close collaboration with local and international refugee agencies to provide educational opportunities to children at the centers.
The Liberian leader has, meanwhile, presented several relief items and other basic needs, including clothes to the refugees, in a gesture they described as loving and unprecedented.
They lauded the President for the visit and concern she has demonstrated for their wellbeing and expressed the hope that the United Nations high Commission for Refugees will move swiftly in responding to their needs. They complained of inadequate food, accommodation, health and nutritional supplies.
More than 22-thousand Ivoirians have fled to Grand Gedeh County since the political crisis in their country. Since 2002 the county has hosted nearly 2-thousand five hundred refugees.
Meanwhile, the President is now in Bong County, dedicating and inspecting a number of development projects in the area. Following an overnight stay in Ganta, Nimba County, the President arrived in Gbarnga, Bong County Saturday afternoon to a rousing welcome by residents of the County. Following arrival ceremonies, the President inspected a number of projects including the future sites of a police barrack and the Gboveh Community College. Construction work on the projects has already commenced. The President traveled to Jocquelleh and Kokoyah districts Sunday for the dedication of a number of projects including two clinics and a public school. More dedication of projects continue Monday in Sanoyea Town and Fuamah District, where the President will dedicate the Kelebah clinic and later hold a townhall meeting in the area.
Cyrus Wleh Badio – Press Secretary to the President – Zwedru – Grand Gedeh County.