U.N. refugee agency ends Liberian program

Jan. 4, 2013 at 1:47 PM

MONROVIA, Liberia, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- The final Liberian participants in a repatriation program returned home after spending years elsewhere because of a civil war, the U.N. refugee unit said.

"The final 724 Liberians returned ... officially ending our return program that began a year after peace was restored in Liberia," Melissa Fleming, chief spokeswoman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, said Friday in a release.

The program began in 2004 and the final refugees returned from Guinea on the last weekend of 2012, Melissa said from the agency's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

The agency helped 155,560 Liberian refugees return home, Fleming said. When peace and stability were restored June 30, the refugee status ended for those who had fled the fighting, she said.

Liberia's civil war broke out in 1989 and lasted 14 years. The United Nations said 750,000 Liberians were either internally displaced or fled the country.

As part of the repatriation program, returning refugees receive a small cash grant to help restart their lives, the refugee agency said. They also receive help from the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission in job placement, scholarships and land acquisition for housing construction.

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