Friday, January 14, 2011

Côte d'Ivoire: Planning for the Refugee Influx


Ivoirians are still crossing from the far west of Côte d'Ivoire into Liberia at a rate of 400 to 600 a day, according to an "initial refugee assessment" issued by the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

Using data drawn from a four-day mission to Liberia border areas earlier this month, the WFP's study on the Ivoirian refugee influx and food security notes that "refugee consumption is inadequate" and highlights the need for refugees to receive either full food rations or partial rations complemented by supplementary feeding.

WFP also proposes food-for-work schemes for 20 percent of the host community "most exposed to the negative consequences of the refugee influx" and an extension of supplementary feeding activities in the host area.

Most of the refugee population has been concentrated in Liberia's northeastern Nimba County, with a tiny percentage farther south in Grand Geddeh county. Current estimates put the official refugee population at around 25,000, while the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and partner agencies have made contingency plans for 50,000.

The WFP report notes that ordinary households are often hosting between three and five refugees. In some areas, the refugees outnumber the host population; it cites the example of the border village of Loguato, where 5,307 refugees are living with just 1,743 locals.

Among the NGOs most active in dealing with the influx has been Equip Liberia, based in Monrovia, but with a longstanding presence in Nimba. The head of Equip Liberia, David Waines, said emergency funding from USAID had enabled it to recruit new staff and rapidly expand its allocation of medicines and general healthcare provided through health clinics in the 23 areas where refugees were entering.

Improved living conditions
Waines noted that living conditions for refugees appeared to be improving, with cases of 20 or more people sharing one room becoming rarer and better arrangements being made for safe sleeping quarters for women and children. He praised the Liberian authorities for their "helpful and proactive stance" on dealing with the arrival of the refugees.

He stressed that the demographic make-up of the refugees had been shifting, with many more men and adolescent boys now crossing over.

However, males were still being recruited as mercenaries: "Every day I hear another story about somebody who personally knows a family member or friend who is on their way, who has been recruited by the Gbagbo side, or been recruited by the Ouattara side.

"There are a lot of Liberian ex-fighters who are not engaged at the moment for whom it's an interesting prospect. Everyone is expecting a big blow-up," Waines told IRIN.

Refugee planning
He confirmed that about 500 people were still crossing the border every day, but numbers could well rise dramatically once food distribution began in earnest. He said initial food provision had been on a pilot basis, targeting just 8 percent of the refugee population, although 50 percent had received non-food items.

WFP has stressed the need to monitor changes in the situation, pointing out that the operational context could change as a refugee camp comes into operation and the rainy season sets in (from May).

Humanitarian agencies in Abidjan and Dakar have identified tackling the refugee problem as one of the main components in their planning for Côte d'Ivoire and neighbouring states while also strongly focused on displacement in the west of Côte d'Ivoire.

In a statement issued from New York on 13 January, Baroness Valerie Amos, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said humanitarian organizations were doing their utmost to ensure that aid reached the needy, especially women, children and the elderly, as quickly as possible, while contingency plans had been extensively revised to ensure the UN and its partners were ready to respond in case a major humanitarian crisis unfolds.

"A peaceful and rapid solution to the crisis is critical for the people of Côte d'Ivoire and for the region as a whole. It is important that all parties refrain from inflammatory rhetoric, hate speech and incitement to violence to ensure that the situation does not escalate any further."

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Inside Liberia with Bernard Gbayee Goah

Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah


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