Liberian Refugee Reintegration: Bex Dunn

Following the end of the civil war in 2003 there were hundreds of thousands of Liberian refugees that had fled to other states to escape the violence. Many of the 750,000 refugees have returned to Liberia since the fighting stopped but there are still approximately 6000 living in Buduburam refugee camp, West of Accra in Ghana. The remaining Liberian refugees, as well as many who have returned to Liberia have found it difficult to forge a livelihood due to their lack of marketable and transferable skills. For this reason the government of Japan is funding two projects with budgets of $1.5 million each to teach Liberian refugees marketable skills in order to support their move back to Liberia. The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation will be assisting with this project which is a positive step towards action that will help the self-sufficiency of recovering nations. It is acknowledged that there is a lack of livelihood opportunities in Liberia due to the disruption caused by the conflict which ended in 2003.

The project is a brilliant idea as it will equip people with the vocational skills, entrepreneurship skills and other related skills necessary to help them set up their own businesses or simply gain employment in order to support themselves. Although $1.5 million per project will not go very far, it will still be a significant contribution to the lives of the Liberians that will benefit from the project.

It is great to see a member state of the UN supporting a project such as this alongside agencies that will facilitate the projects which will involve teaching mechanics, metal and wood workshops as well as as food processing and garment production, with a special focus on technical skills upgrading and entrepreneurship development. The project has the potential to be a great success but it is hard to understand why it is just the one member state providing the funding for it. If more states chipped in then this project could transform the lives of even more men and women from war torn Liberia and potentially elsewhere. It seems that as part of the commitment to helping to rebuild nations and intervening in the case of conflict that we should make a commitment to investing in projects similar to this in order to allow the nations and the people to become self-sufficient through gaining invaluable skills.

Bex Dunn