"Liberians need a form of relief from the people who have terrorized their country for the past 25 years and dehumanized the population" – Bernard Gbayee Goah
The Global Voice for Justice and Peace-USA
May 15, 2012
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale, CH-1211, Geneve 2 Depot, Suisse
Dear Commissioner Guterres:
We, The Global Voice for Justice and Peace, write this urgent letter to draw your attention to a matter of great importance. Many Liberians who fled the country as a result of the Liberian civil carnage from 1990-2003 are in danger of forced repatriation by their host countries.
The 1951 UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol are the two fundamental documents for refugee protection. The Convention setthe refugee definition along with the terms for cessation of, and exclusion for refugee status. The Convention defines a refugee as “a person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, in the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”
The Protocol set the standard for legal status of refugees in their country of asylum, their rights and obligations, including the right to be protected against forcible return to a territory where their lives of freedom would be threatened. Further, the Protocol outlined States obligations, including cooperating with UNHCR in the exercise of its functions and facilitating its duty of supervising the application of the Convention.
Through the years, States have affirmed their commitment to protecting refugees by acceding to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol as stated. It has continued to remain the cornerstone for refugee protection to this day. Many of the Liberian refugees suffered severe physical and emotional trauma and extreme losses at the hands of the various warring factions. Although Liberia has enjoyed relative peace since the end of the conflict in the Summer of 2003, the process of reconciliation, peace, and sustainable security is far from reality. For example, the implementation of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Reports and Recommendations is a dream yet to be realized.
Unfortunately, most of those allegedly responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity continue to walk the streets of Liberia and occupy key public and private offices in Liberia with impunity. Thanks to the UNMIL peace keepers in Liberia for maintaining our fragile peace. Despite the relative peace, many Liberians still do not feel safe to return home with UNMIL mandate ending September 2012.
Apart from the security and mental health concerns, Liberia is a country still struggling to recover from the prolong years of war and poverty. According to the World Bank report released in November 2011, the GDP per capita of Liberia was $ 246.91 in 2010. The United Nations Development Program ( UNDP) 2011 Human Development Report indicates that 57.6% of the Liberian population live in severe poverty while 83.7% live below the income poverty line of $1.50 per day.
In addition to the catastrophic humanitarian impact of de-porting these families to Liberia, research has shown that terrorist organizations prey on poverty and deprivation. According to Karin von Hippel, a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Defense Studies at the Kings College, “While terrorists themselves may not be poor and uneducated, we do have evidence that they tend to use the plight of the poor as one justification for committing violence and for broadening their appeal”.
Deporting a huge number of people who fled their country due to violence in a country with more than 80% of its population living below the poverty line, would not only undermine the security of Liberia, but also the security of the sub-region, and possibly other parts of Africa. It is in the best interest of the United Nations and the host to continue to enforce the terms of the Convention and its 1967 Protocol and provide refugees opportunities, including granting of permanent residence status and possibly citizenship to qualified refugees wishing for such opportunities to reach their fullest potentials.
We, the Global Voice for Justice and Peace urge your office to look into the Liberian refugees situation to stop the forced repatriation of the refugees.Contact us @ email@example.com
Interim Executive Director
Cc; President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Human rights organizations, United Nation, United Nation Commissioner for Refugees, Black congressional Caucus, International New Medias,US African Committee on Foreign Affairs Department, Liberian Embassy, Nigerian Embassy, Ghana Embassy
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