The Buduburan camp became home to hundreds of Liberians who fled the Liberian civil war between 1989 and 2003. Some of those refugees arrive in Ghana when they were very young and may have lost their parents, while others emigrated unaccompanied and are still unable to locate their home country years later. They cannot clearly identify which nation they are from when asked to do so by either Ghana or Liberia. As a result, many of them are currently stateless since they lack proper documentation.
This is because the majority of these people lost their parents during the conflict, some were alone, and others did not have proper documentation, according to Reverend Festus Logan, Executive Director of the Liberia Refugees, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission. The revelation was made by Reverend Logan at the start of a two-day conference on the Liberia National Action Plan on Statelessness validation that was put on by the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission in coordination with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees in Monrovia.
According to him, the issue of statelessness is a new phenomenon in Liberia because most of the people are not aware of how it affects a person. He explained that some people find it difficult to believe whenever they are advised on the need for every citizen to obtain birth certificate, national identification card or passport.
Rev. Logan said another phenomenon we should take into consideration is the issue of human migration as a result of natural disaster, some even crossed our border due to internal conflict, political unrest, and insecurity. He cautioned the participants to thoroughly discuss and validate the Liberia National Action Plan on Statelessness and come out with proposals and ideas through which Liberia will negate statelessness if there is any, in the country.
Anthony Abogi, the UN High Commission for Refugees’ country representative, praised the Liberian government for joining regional efforts to eradicate statelessness. Mr. Abogi asserted that Liberia is one of the 20 nations in the world that are committed to putting an end to statelessness. He applauds the church and civil society organizations for their genuine efforts to do so.
“Let‘s know as we work in validatlet us know we are helping to make others exist by having state documents.”
According to Comfort Lamptey, the country representative for UN Women, the majority of displaced people worldwide are women and children, and it is well known that many women fall into this group. She applauded the Liberian government for removing one type of severe discrimination against women by allowing them to pass on their citizenship rights to their offspring.
Around eight million young people are reportedly on the move, according to Mohamed Diallo, the International Organization for Migration’s country representative. He claims that the national action plan on statelessness will assist many Liberians and those outside of the country who want to return to get the paperwork they need. Diallo expressed hope that the Liberian government will establish a system for simple repatriation of Liberians who are caught up in unlawful migration in 2023 with support from the UNHCR and other partners.
Christine Umotoni, the UN’s resident coordinator in Liberia, expressed hope that the national action plan on statelessness will be successful because Liberia has seen its fair share of violence. She gave the Liberian administration reassurance that the UN would support the execution of the country’s national action plan on statelessness. Statelessness, continues to be one of the human rights issues around the world and about ten million people are said to be stateless worldwide.
Speaking on behalf of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Momolu Johnson, the Deputy Minister for Administration and Minister Varney Sirleaf’s representative who also serves as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the LRRRC, said that the approval of the national action plan on statelessness is proof of the government’s commitment to putting an end to statelessness. He claims that after the paper has been validated, it will be sent to the Liberian cabinet for their approval before the President may sign it.
Minister Johnson thanked the UN family for the support to the LRRRC for their developing the national action plan on statelessness and assured them that all will be done to ensure that following the approval of the plan by President George Weah , it will be used to erase statelessness from Liberia.
The conference, held under the theme: “Nationality Is A Right; Not a Privilege; Liberia Says No To Statelessness,” was graced by representatives of civil society organizations, officials of government, the United Nations system, among many others.
Reported by: Augustine Octavius