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Monday, 11 March 2013

Japan to fund UNIDO projects to reintegrate returning Liberian refugees

VIENNA, 11 March 2013 - The Government of Japan will fund two projects to be implemented  by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which will assist the socio-economic reintegration of Liberian returnees.

The two projects, each with a total budget of USD 1.5 million, will provide Liberians who have already returned, or intend to return, to their home country with vocational skills training, entrepreneurship training and other related services in order to enhance opportunities for finding jobs or starting up livelihoods or businesses.

Over a decade of civil war in Liberia forced some 750,000 Liberians to flee to neighbouring countries. Since the civil war ended in 2003, many refugees have returned to their home country, with most of them settling in and around the capital, Monrovia.  In partnership with the Government of Liberia’s Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, UNIDO will equip returnees with vocational and entrepreneurial skills to help them reintegrate into a productive life back in Liberia.

“Many of the young returnees have never seen their home country. This is a big challenge we must address. The lack of livelihood opportunities can hinder their reintegration process,” said Chakib Jenane, Chief of UNIDO’s Agro-Industries Technology Unit.

A significant number of those who fled Liberia have yet to return home, and one of the biggest concentrations of Liberian refugees is in the Buduburam camp, west of Accra in Ghana, where some 6,000 Liberian refugees still reside.

Another UNIDO project, to be implemented in partnership with the Ghana Refugee Board, will assist the Government of Ghana in the continuing and long-term process of the economic reintegration of Liberian refugees and their families still residing in the Buduburam camp.

The project will address one of the main reasons given by Liberians still residing in the camp for not returning to Liberia: a lack of any marketable livelihood skills and/or financial capital with which to embark on new enterprises. Those Liberians who are willing to return to their home country will be provided with multi-skills training. UNIDO will share its expertise of working with small mechanics, metal and wood workshops and other basic industries, such as food processing and garment production, with a special focus on technical skills up-grading and entrepreneurship development.

Jenane also said that the project would target around 500 beneficiaries, providing them with the entrepreneurial skills to help them start micro-scale industries and production units at the community level when back in Liberia, as well as assistance in finding suitable employment in Liberia, and incentive packages for repatriation from Ghana to Liberia including support for transportation costs, initial housing costs and toolkits.

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