Ivorian refugees find relief in Liberia

Dec 16, 2011

The Action by Churches Together (ACT Alliance) through its Appeal Project in Nimba County, the Republic of Liberia designed to assist thousands of Ivorian refugees and host communities, has ended a 5-day intensive visit to beneficiaries and others in Nimba.

Participating members include the Church of Sweden, Finn Church Aid, Lutheran Development Service (LDS) in Liberia, and the Lutheran Church in Liberia Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program.

Others include the Rural Human Rights Activates Program and Equip-Liberia.

The assessment which started on Monday, November 28 to Friday, December 3, 2011 was primary intended to monitor ACT Appeal projects to get an overview about the support to Liberian host and Ivorian refugee population in Nimba County.

It was as well intended to gain good understanding of the progress in the implementation towards meeting planned objectives, explore challenges and contribute to the process of overcoming the challenges.

The participants shared experiences and observations and drew lesions learnt to improve ongoing work which would support future improvements in the quality of ACT humanitarian work.

The 5-day visit started on Monday, November 28 at the Government Hospital in Sanniquelli with an interactive dialogue with the Head, Dr. Jabbeh and other staff of the Hospital. It followed similar visit to the Sanniquelli Administrative Building where frank discussions were held between the delegation and Nimba County Superintendent, Christiana Dagadu.

Superintendent Dagadu said though the visit to her Office was impromptus, she appreciates the services provided to the Ivorian refugees and host communities across Nimba County.

She commanded the ACT Alliance and suggested a meeting to discuss other crucial issues aimed at further strengthening service delivery in the County.

The second day of the Joint Monitoring Visit focused on the Psychosocial Program at the Bahn Refugee Camp of the Lutheran Church in Liberia Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program. The Program is benefiting hundreds of Ivorian refugees at the Camp.

On Wednesday, November 30 the Joint Monitoring delegation visited Seykimpa and Karnplay & Larpea 1 respectively to discuss with authorities of the Lutheran Church Trauma Healing Peace Mediation Program and Equip Protection Program, and to get acquainted with the level of tremendous work being carried by the Lutheran Development Service in Liberia (LDS) through its Livelihood Program for Ivorian refugees and host communities in Gbelle-geh District.

LDS is operating in sixteen communities in Gbelle-geh District in three distinct areas of Non Food Items, Food Security and Water and Sanitation (WATSAN) under the ACT Appeal Program.

The delegation visited some of the newly constructed hand pumps and the Agriculture Project, with satisfaction expressed by members of the delegation.

On the 4th day, December 1 separate visits were made to Beeplay, Buutuo and New Yorpea to assess activities undertaken by Equip-Liberia and the Rural Human Rights Activates Program (RHRAP).

The day was witnessed by a spectacular display of efforts made aimed at resolving conflicts and ensuring peace amongst the citizens and refugees especially by the RHRAP Peace Mediation Committee.

On the last day of the visit, Friday, December 4, 2011 the Joint Monitoring delegation visited some previously constructed wooden bridges along the way, as part of efforts to assess Equip-Liberia implemented activities in Zodru.

Speaking to the press at the close of the 5-day intensive Joint Monitoring Visit, the Head of the delegation, Madam Anja Paajanen, Emergency Field Officer of Finn Church Aid in Liberia described the overall assessment in Nimba County as very positive

Madam Paajanen said she was highly elated with the assessment which is the second joint monitoring visit to Nimba, following the first one in July of 2011.

According to her, the ACT Appeal Program is ending in 2011 and that they wanted to see how the activities have developed.

She said one of the key things from the assessment is the importance of training which is sustainable, especially for the Ivorian refugees who will be returning home with capacity building skills.

For his part, the Assistant Programme Officer of the Lutheran Development Service ACT Alliance Liberia Forum, Vandi V. Kallon described the 5-day Joint Monitoring Visit to Nimba County as successful.

Mr. Kallon said he is operating for the Emergency Response in Gbelay-Geh District, Nimba County and that LDS is in 16 Communities with 3 components. They are Non Food Items,      Food Security Programs and Water & Sanitation.

According to him, in April and May of 2011, LDS ACT Appeal Program distributed about 1,245 kits to Ivorian refugees and host population family heads.

He also disclosed that under the Program, LDS has constructed 12 hand pumps in twelve communities and rehabilitated 16 additional hand pumps in sixteen communities.

Mr. Kallon further disclosed that LDS is operating with 48 Groups in the Food Security Program, and that some of the beneficiaries have already harvested their vegetables like pepper and corn, among others.

Giving a short history of the ACT Appeal Program, Mr. Kallon said it started in February of 2011 following an assessment in collaboration with Finn Church Aid. According to him, the Program has benefited hundreds of Ivorian refugees and host Communities in Gbelay-Geh District, Nimba County.

Also speaking, the Programme Officer of the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, Aloysius Nyanti said they are providing psychosocial support to Ivorian refugees and citizens in 13 communities of Nimba County, and basically the assessment was to determine the level of impact the Program has made so far.

According to him, some of the beneficiaries have requested for more training and support in terms of empowerment and counseling.

Mr. Nyanti said the beneficiaries have been empowered through training and counseling through the community based psychosocial and right based support, and to a large extend the beneficiaries have been empowered with different knowledge and skills in different areas including Mediation, Gender Based Violence and that they are aware of other issues that affect their lives.

For his part, the Executive Director of the Rural Human Rights Activates Program, Lorma Baysah said he was happy in meeting their objective in building a structure especially with the Peace Mediation Committee in carrying out Conflict Transformation activities leading to a number of civil cases being settled out of court.

Mr. Baysah said they are operating in Communities in Nimba County with the key objective to empower Ivorian refugees and host population on how they can hold together, analyze, mediate and resolve conflicts through non-violent method.

He used the occasion to appeal to the donors for expansion of the project, and to also extend to other communities.

Also speaking, Equip-Liberia Nimba County Coordinator, Joseph K. Kilikpo said they are implementing for Finn Church Aid under the ACT Alliance Program in Health, Protection, WATSAN, including Road and Bridges construction.

According to him, bridges have been built on the Glarlay / Gblarlay road, Gblarlay / Tiaplay Boyialay road, Gblarlay / Duoplay road and Diallah / Zodru road. Mr. Kilikpo also said they have rehabilitated 15 bridges in the areas named.

He said other areas where clinics are being supported with drugs and incentives by Finn Church Aid include Buutuo, Gblarlay, New Yourpea and Zodru.

For her part, Madam Emma Ostlund, Finance and Project Officer of the Church of Sweden ACT Alliance Program said they were in Liberia for nine days to look at the work that the Action by Churches Together (ACT Alliance) was doing in the Country, and that they have been very satisfied with what they have seen during the 5-day Joint Monitoring Visit to Nimba County.

Also speaking, Madam Katarina Ottosson, Programme Officer of the Church of Sweden ACT Alliance Program said what they usually look for during Field Visits is to see that people have been empowered and that the beneficiaries can independently perform.

She said she was pleased with the 5-day assessment based on what they have seen regarding the empowerment of Ivorian refugees and host Communities.

This article originally appeared at Finn Church Aid (FCA).

To view the original article, click here.