Bahn — The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), has handed over 15 Spotlight Initiative-funded durable shelters to women-headed households and vulnerable persons at the Bahn Settlement in Bahn, Nimba County. The Bahn Settlement, formerly Bahn Refugees Camp, is home to several Ivoirian refugees who have decided to integrate into Liberia locally.
Plan International Liberia constructed the units under the supervision of the Liberia Refugees Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC). It brings to a total of 108 the number of housing units constructed for former Ivoirian refugees and host communities, with 25 funded by the EU-supported Spotlight Initiative.
Speaking in Bahn on 28 October at the formal turnover ceremony, UNFPA Resident Representative Bidisha Pillai said that in many of today’s conflicts, women are disempowered by violence, including rape or the threat of it, and by HIV infection, trauma, and disabilities that often result from it.
Ms. Pillai said that when women have access to the same rights and opportunities as men, they are more resilient to conflict and disaster and can lead reconstruction and renewal efforts in their societies.
“Our collective efforts to establish the framework for actions to protect women and girls and assure their participation in peacebuilding and reconciliation should be focused at the grassroots level,” Ms. Pillai added.
UNHCR Representative Anthony Akumu Abogi, who also spoke at the program, urged the Ivoirian refugees who have decided to integrate into the Liberian society to do so with a clear purpose and commitment.
Mr. Abogi referenced world leaders with immigrant backgrounds, including former US President Barack Obama, who never allowed their experience to stop them from aspiring for society’s best.
“The essence of integration is you get mixed in your new society, use the opportunities available to you and become a shining star,” he added.
Meanwhile, LRRRC Executive Director, Reverend Festus R. B. Logan, informed the refugees that the Government of Liberia and UNHCR were making all efforts to ensure they obtained their legal documentation.
“The Government and UNHCR are working to finalize the naturalization process of all former refugees who have expressed the desire to take up Liberian nationality. We are also working to secure Resident Permits for those who want to resettle in Liberia,” Reverend Logan said.
Reverend Logan praised the Spotlight Initiative and other donors for funding the construction of durable shelters to ease the local integration of the Ivoirian refugees in Liberia.
The Spotlight Initiative is an EU-UN global partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls, launched on 18 June 2019 by the Government of Liberia, the European Union, Civil Society Organizations, and the United Nations in Liberia.
The Spotlight Initiative aims, through priority interventions, to tackle violence against women and girls by addressing structural causes across six key Pillars; legislative and policy framework, institutional strengthening; changing norms and behaviors; delivery of essential services; management of data, and strengthening women’s movements and civil society organizations.