Revision Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan for Liberia (August 2011)

2 August 2011

The post-electoral crisis and violence that followed the second round of the presidential elections of November 2010 in Côte d’Ivoire (CDI) led to a massive population displacement within CDI and into neighbouring countries, mainly into Liberia.  Despite the relative improvement of the security situation in CDI following the end of major combat and the investiture of President Alassane Ouattara, Ivorian refugees continue to arrive in Liberia, though the number has decreased from an average of 2,000 per week in June to a few hundred in July.  Most of the refugees prefer staying with host communities in Nimba, Grand Gedeh, Maryland and River Gee counties, with the majority currently hosted in Grand Gedeh.  

Following the verification exercise by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the spontaneous returns from Nimba, the total number of refugees reached more than 154,000 in mid-July.  There are differences of outlook on the question of return among refugees in Nimba and other counties.  This is due to the fact that refugees in Nimba come from regions traditionally affiliated with President Ouattara, while those in Grand Gedeh and Maryland are considered to be sympathetic to former President Gbagbo.  It has been observed that refugees in Nimba are gradually returning to CDI, although some do so only temporarily to check on land before coming back into Liberia.  However, refugees in the other three counties have clearly expressed that they are not intending to return in the foreseeable future, given the fragile security situation in their areas of origin.   

The Government of Liberia (GoL) and UNHCR have assessed that under the current circumstances, facilitating organized return of the refugees is not a priority.  However, it is expected that spontaneous returns from Nimba County will continue and those refugees may eventually be assisted if the pattern and numbers justifies humanitarian intervention.   Taking into account these possible returns and continuing, albeit limited, new arrivals, it is expected that the total number of refugees will stabilize around 160,000.  Additionally 100,000 vulnerable individuals among host communities, 20,000 Liberian returnees from CDI and 5,000 third-country nationals (TCN) will be targeted in this appeal.   

The GoL adopted a new refugee strategy in July, outlining its plan to relocate refugees from the border communities to six camps and 16 identified relocation villages.  This strategy developed in collaboration with UNHCR is expected to help provide better protection and assistance to refugees.  The scattering of refugees in many hard-to-access locations has presented huge logistical challenges to the Government and the humanitarian community.   The GoL is mobilizing its resources to speed up expansion and development of the camps.  It has given UNHCR a plan to increase camp capacity with all basic services for 80,000 people and to relocate 60,000 refugees by the end of 2011.  A key strategic intervention in this revised appeal will be to increase camp capacity and the phased relocation of refugees into camps and other identified villages.  While delivery of essential services and protection will continue, there will be a gradual transition from emergency relief to development assistance as refugee numbers shift from communities into the camps. 

Protection of refugees in the lead-up to the presidential election in Liberia, scheduled around October 2011, will be a priority.  Concerns that the situation in CDI may destabilize neighbouring countries are high among Liberian authorities, and the discovery of an arm cache at the border in June has done nothing to alleviate them.  

The strategy and response plans developed for this revised Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan (EHAP)[1]for Liberia are in line with this strategic position of the GoL.  The strategy will operate on three pillars: 

  • Refugees in camps
  • Host communities (refugees and Liberians)
  • TCN and returning Liberian migrants 

The EHAP is also in line with the four strategic objectives of the 2011 Regional Consolidated Appeal (CAP) for West Africa: 

  1. Reduce excess mortality and morbidity in crisis situations;
  2. Reinforce livelihoods of the most vulnerable people severely affected by slow or sudden onset crisis;
  3. Ensure humanitarian access and improve protection of vulnerable people;
  4. Strengthen coordination and preparedness of emergencies at national and regional levels. 

The financial requirements for the revised EHAP for Liberia amount to $166,651,691, to cover the most urgent humanitarian needs for 160,000 refugees; 100,000 host populations; 20,000 returnees and 5,000 TCNs.  $75 million in funding has been received or committed to date, leaving $92 million still required. 

[1]“Emergency humanitarian action plan” is a term that has been used in West Africa to denote what are essentially flash appeals for sudden-onset or steeply worsening crises, but which are counted as supplements to the regional West Africa Consolidated Appeal rather than parallel appeals.

Document History

2 August 2011

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