Main Fleet News Fleet News Features Almost 300 Liberian Refugees Arrive Home on Chartered Vessel
Date: 10/08/06
News Feature: Almost 300 Liberian Refugees Arrive Home on Chartered ex CalMac Vessel...

Official Press Releases From Various Sources...
Almost 300 Liberian refugees arrive home on chartered vessel
UNHCR Press Release:
MONROVIA, Liberia, July 31 (UNHCR) – A group of 298 Liberian refugees arrived home on Monday morning aboard a chartered passenger-cargo vessel. The Gambia-registered Brenda Corlett docked in Monrovia after settling sail from the Ghanaian port of Tema last Thursday.

Liberian Vice-President Joseph Boakai and Minister of Internal Affairs Ambulai Johnson attended a colourful welcoming ceremony. The returnees went through medical screening and proceeded to a transit centre to receive their reintegration packages.

These include food rations for four months, blankets, sleeping mats, cooking utensils, sanitary towels for women, buckets, lanterns, mosquito nets, plastic sheets, soap, jerry cans and agricultural tools. They will also be given opportunities for skills training.

It was the first such return by sea since UNHCR began in February to actively promote voluntary repatriation of Liberian refugees, but there have been three other repatriations by ship from Ghana since UNHCR launched its voluntary repatriation programme in October 2004.

The arrival of the 298 Liberians brings the number of people repatriated with UNHCR assistance from Ghana to some 3,800. Others, mainly those with special needs, have gone home by air.

UNHCR has helped some 73,000 Liberian refugees return home from around the region since 2004. The repatriation programme will continue until June 2007. The next planned movement from Ghana will be an air charter for refugees with special needs next week, to be followed by another sea movement the following week.

Ghana hosts some 38,000 Liberian refugees, who form the majority of the approximately 54,000 refugees in the country.

By Needa Jehu-Hoyah
In Monrovia, Liberia

Liberian refugees on the Brenda Corlett,
which docked in Monrovia on Monday morning.
Top officials attended a colourful
welcoming ceremony for the 298 returnees.
 © UNHCR/N.Jehu-Hoyah.

Ex-Bute ferry's still a Pioneer
Source: The Buteman
IT’S all a long way from ferrying daily commuters across the Clyde to Wemyss Bay on a cold, wet January morning. But Caledonian MacBrayne’s former Rothesay ferry, MV Pioneer, has earned new fame for herself after playing an important part in returning refugees to their homeland off the war-torn west African coast. The ship, now owned by Corlett Lines and named Brenda Corlett, recently took almost three hundred Liberian refugees - and their belongings - home from the Ghanaian port of Tema, many returning after more than a decade in exile. The far-travelled ferry was chartered to lend assistance to a repatriation effort organised by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR). Liberia is still adjusting to democracy after years of devastating civil war, and the UNHCR has already helped some 73,000 of the country’s refugees return home since 2004. Returning refugees have previously been taken home by air, but the charter of the Brenda Corlett meant those travelling back from Ghana could take with them belongings and possessions gathered during their years in exile. “I really feel happy to be going home. I have not seen my parents for 14 years and finally I will see them,” said 28-year-old John Washington, who had worked at a hotel while in Ghana. The Pioneer’s last CalMac sailings were in November 2003, and she was sold the following summer, in somewhat controversial circumstances. However, it wasn’t until Christmas Eve of the following year that she finally left the Clyde for service between Sao Tome and Principe and later in The Gambia. The ferry was built in Leith in 1974 and served on almost all of CalMac’s Clyde and Western Isles routes during her 29 years in Scotland, earning her a loyal following among enthusiasts of the Scottish shipping scene - though her window-rattling thrusters were not universally popular among householders and businesses along Rothesay’s seafront!

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