By Own Correspondent from Monrovia, Liberia for Shout-Africa.com – A High Level African Union Commission delegation which has been assessing Ivorian refugees situation in Liberia on Wednesday presented a cheque of US $75.000.00 to UNHCR for the refugees. The Commission said the donation was its initial financial contribution to UNHCR which has been working to address the basic needs of the refugees in the country.
The Head of the delegation, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Ambassador to the African Union Commission said the donation was intended to assist the UNHCR purchase needed non-food items for the Refugees. An estimated 90,000 Ivorian refugees are in Liberia.
Mr. Gerald Mapango Ke-min-shanga acknowledged that the refugee situation in Liberia was getting difficult to handle owing to the escalation of the Ivorian conflict which has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Ivoirians.
The AU Commission Delegation added that during their visitation to the refugee communities in Liberia, it was gathered that there is an urgent need to assist the UNHCR in addressing the numerous humanitarian needs of the refugees.
The delegation, dispatched to Liberia by AU Chairman, John Ping, upon arrival in the Country, met with government officials, UNHCR, humanitarian and aid agencies. They exchanged views on the prevailing refugee situation in Liberia.
The AU Commission delegation visited Bahn in Nimba County to directly interact with Ivorian Refugees and get first-hand information on the prevailing humanitarian situation there. The AU Commission delegates told newsmen in Monrovia that the visit forms part of the recent visit of AU Permanent Representative Council (PRC) Sub-Committee on Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons for 2011.
Ambassador Keminshanga, during the presentation of the funds, promised to convey to AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the urgent need for assistance for the host Country of the refugees- Liberia. Receiving the check at UNHCR office in Monrovia, Mr. Ibrahima Coly, UNHCR Country Representative in Liberia described the donation as a remarkable initiative that came at a time it is most needed.
Mr. Coly said, to date, UNHCR has received just 20 percent of amount needed to address the Ivorian Refugees situation in Liberia. He added that the donation by the African Union was a meaningful contribution that would take the UNHCR a step further. Mr. Coly said the AU has over the time, proven to be UNHCR’s dependable partner in addressing the needs of refugees and internally displaced persons on the African Continent.
The UHNCR-Liberia official also stressed the need for relocation of the Ivorian Refugees from Liberian border areas since the Government of Liberia and UNHCR had already identified safety sites in Grand Gedeh and Nimba Counties. He added that owing to experience in conflict situations, it was always preferable to have refugees far from borders that are closer to conflict zones.