ECOWAS offers respite to Ivorian refugees in Liberia.
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Commission donated over 300 metric tonnes of rice to the Liberian government for distribution to more than 66,800 Ivorian refugees, who fled their country following its post-2012 electoral crisis.
ECOWAS Commission President, Kadré Ouédraogo, presented the donation to Liberia’s Minister of Finance, Amara Konneh, in Monrovia, the capital, on Wednesday.
Mr. Konneh is in charge of ECOWAS affairs in his country.
The ECOWAS president, said the provision of humanitarian assistance to citizens in distress “is a core task of our institution and by extension, the implementation of one of the assignments passed on to us by the Community.”
“As part of the implementation of the humanitarian mandate, the ECOWAS Commission has within its limited resources been responding to the needs of our brothers and sisters inflicted with the pains of conflict, natural disasters and other humanitarian challenges, through the provision of emergency relief materials,” he added.
The ECOWAS Commission chief put ECOWAS’ overall humanitarian assistance to Ivorian refugees in Liberia at more than 800,000 dollars, in addition to substantial financial support also provided to Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, in Cote d’Ivoire.
He thanked Liberia for the “kindness, generosity and hospitality” it has extended to the Ivorian refugees, and also thanked the regional office of the UN World Food Programme, WFP, for its collaboration, support and willingness to distribute the food items to the refugees.
Mr. Konneh recalled ECOWAS’ contribution to the restoration of peace in Liberia and continued support for the country’s post-war reconstruction, ranging from security sector reforms to energy and infrastructure development, as well as political, economic and humanitarian assistance.
He said the country is encouraged by the spirit of regional integration and African unity, to shelter and assist displaced Ivorians, particularly because Liberians, during their civil war years, benefited from similar generosity from Cote d’Ivoire.
The Liberian Foreign Minister, Blamoh Nelson, described ECOWAS as “the most effective regional organisation in Africa,” adding that the humanitarian gesture is a demonstration of responsible and responsive leadership.
The ECOWAS Commission President and his delegation, which included the Commissioner for Human Development and Gender, Adrienne Diop, and Director of Humanitarian Affairs, Daniel Eklu, visited Zewdru.
Zewdru is the capital of Liberia’s South-Eastern Grand Gedeh County, some 450-km from Monrovia, where one of the five camps for the Ivorian refugees is located.