By Esau J. Farr
TNR, Monrovia, Liberia: The Executive Director of the Liberia Refugee, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) has refuted reports of deplorable refugee conditions in Liberia.
LRRRC Executive Director, Rev. Festus Logan
Rev. Festus Logan said reports from some quarters about deplorable conditions of refugees in some camps in Liberia like the Bahn Refugee Camp in Northern Liberia is not true and wonders where the information was coming from.
The LRRRC boss’ statements were in reaction to an inquiry sought from him when he appeared on a local radio station over the weekend regarding the general status of the commission and life at the Bahn Refugee Camp in Nimba County.
“I don’t know who told you that; but first of all, the information is not true,” Rev. Logan told a radio talk-show host.
He maintained that the LRRRC is aware of the UNHCR Geneva Convention of 1951 and the 1971 Convention which amongst other things call for the rights of refugees in host countries and the maintenance of their wellbeing.
Contrary to the report, the LRRRC Executive Director disclosed that the commission made use of President George M. Weah’s Rural Housing Project to help improve the living standards and conditions of refugees and local authorities of communities hosting them.
In lieu of the plan, Rev. Logan disclosed that eight hundred housing units are being constructed in selected communities including refugee camps.
According to him, as part of the plan, the LRRRC through the Government of Liberia and partners will give out twenty percent (20%) of the constructed facilities to heads of local communities hosting the refugees aimed at making them (locals) to feel as part of the project and take ownership of them while the rest (80%) of the facilities will be occupied by refugees.
Rev. Logan said at present, there are nine thousand (9,000) refugees in Liberia most of whom are Ivoirians.
He explained that voluntary repatriation and reintegration are currently taking place.
“As we speak, there is a voluntary repatriation and local integration of people; that is some refugees who now feel that conditions in their original country (ies) cannot permit them to go back home have decided to remain in Liberia,” the LRRRC ED said.
Commenting on the issue of less fortunate Liberians commonly referred to as ‘Zogoes’, Rev. Logan said plans are under way to help improve the lives of such challenging group of people in Liberia describing them as ‘Nationally Internally Displaced Persons of Concerns.
According to him, his commission has completed the collection of data and mapping of ‘Zogoes’ in three counties which includes Montserrado, Grand Bassa and Margibi.
He revealed that from the commission’s findings, six thousand (6000) of said category of people were identified from an estimated six hundred ghettoes in and around Monrovia, while Grand Bassa and Margibi have 400 and 300 zogoes respectively.
The LRRRC Boss further disclosed that a data and statistical report is expected to be launched shortly in relation to information gathered so far and the way forward in reintegrating them (zogoes) into the Liberian society and make them useful citizens.
The project is said to be a joint effort of the LRRRC and partners including the Ministry of Health, Gender, the Monrovia City Corporation and the Liberia Council of Churches according to Rev. Logan.
“Phase two of the project will be an eighteen-month psychosocial counseling and the provision of local skills for our persons of concerns aimed at giving them lifetime skills to make positive impact in our society,” he intoned.
On the issue of the willingness of the zogoes to be reintegrated, Rev. Logan emphatically said the reception of the persons was overwhelming. NR