Liberian Returnees from Refugee Camps in Guinea Expressed Dismay over Lack of Support from Government
Zota District, Bong County – Liberian returnees from refugee camps in neighboring Guinea have told FrontPageAfrica that since their return in 2011, they have been neglected by the government of Liberia through the Repatriation Rehabilitation and Reintegration Commission (LRRRC).
The LRRRC Executive Director Festus Logan could not be reached for comments as his phone ring endlessly without taking the call up to press time.
But the group of refugees that are now residing at the Global Village in Zota District, Bong County said they were brought into the country by the Asia Focus Australia, an organization within the Lutheran Church in Australia.
Also, the Immanuel Lutheran Mission School, a Junior High School has been established to education the young ones that are on the camp.
“We have 686 inhabitants in this camp. Since we have been here the government has not been able to take care of us, the government has neglected us,” Morris Y. Sulonkemele, an administrator of the camp told FPA.
He added, “LRRRC has not been to this our camp. They have been telling us something through our leadership but until now, they had not been able to come to our aids.”
“We have prominent citizens who are in this district, they came and see us –in fact once upon the time the winds came and damage some of our building and we called on our Lawmakers, they came and saw the damaged building but from that day, until present, we have not been able to get any help from any one of them,” Sulonkemele said.
According to Sulonkemele, they rely on the planting of palm trees and handouts from other humanitarian groups in Liberia for their livelihood. That, he said, has caused many young men to leave the camp to seek greener pastures elsewhere.
Sulonkemele further said that during their last days in Guinea, they were given options –that is, to come back home on grounds that Liberia was peaceful with a sitting President or be integrated into the Guinean Society.
“At the time we have already had our President who was Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and people who were helping us in Guinea told us that they could no longer help us because we had an elected President and the International Community was no longer looking at refugees from Liberia,” he said.
Sulonkemele added, “Two options were given us, whether to stay and integrate into the Guinean society or come back home. And we deemed it necessary to come back home and this is where we found ourselves since 2011 until now.”
Operating Makeshift School with Insufficient Instructional Materials
On the Global Village camp, Immanuel Lutheran Mission is a school that was established to educate young kids from Kindergarten to the junior high level. The makeshift building of the school hindered the learning process daily.
Paye Gormuyor is the principal of the school. He said students sit on the bricks while in classes and also learning or instructional materials are very low.
Another pain that both students and faculty endured every school day is the deplorable road condition from the village to where the school is situated.
“Ministry of Education has never helped us. We are facing a problem with textbooks to teach the children, we can lobby with friends, and maybe when we have the funding we can buy some textbooks from the market but they are not sufficient,” the school principal said.
“We are all returnees from the refugee camp in Guinea but we have not gotten anything from the LRRRC people, we are only living on the grace of God, and whatsoever thing the leadership of the village gives us that are what we are using here at the school,” Gormuyor said.
“As you can see, the school building is just an open structure we have here and it is a makeshift one, we have problem with sitting place and even the road from the village to the school campus is very much challenging,” he said pointing his finger at the hill. “For children to climb this hill it can be very hard and also we are facing problem with instructional materials,” he added.
The Women Need Help
Evelyn Smiths, mother of 4, is the chairlady in the village. She told FPA the many challenges the women are faced with in the camp.
“We are faced with problem when it comes to medication. Even the distance from here to the clinic, if it is a serious problem, to carry the patient, it cannot be easy on us,” Madam Smiths said.
According to the chairlady of the Global Village, through the agriculture process, women on the camp can help to feel their family.
“We need a clinic here; we need help for the women. We want to do business but we do not have the hands. We need a loan. These politicians, some of them can come here but they always promised and they cannot fulfill,” she said.