UN refugee agency launches first seaborne repatriation to Liberia

The inaugural sea voyage brings to nearly 1,400 the number of Liberians who have returned home from Ghana since the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) started facilitating repatriation in October. The majority returned by air. In all, some 2,000 of the 42,000 Liberians in Ghana have so far expressed a desire to go home. The latest group of 385 Liberians left Ghana’s main port of Tema on board the MV Cerano on Wednesday for the three and a half day journey, carrying with them livestock, personal effects, commercial bread ovens and food such as yams and peanuts. Over the next three years, UNHCR plans to repatriate some of the estimated 340,000 Liberians who fled 14 years of vicious civil war to neighbouring countries, with 150,000 expected to return in 2005 alone. Once home, UNHCR pursues a range of efforts to facilitate the refugees’ reintegration of Liberian refugees, including education programmes, infrastructural development and vocational skills training. On arrival, the returnees are provided with an assistance package comprising food, household items and basic tools to support their reintegration. Some receive onward transportation or a transport allowance to cover the trip to their home areas. read more