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WorldTies: UNHCR Repatriates Liberians Refugees, Returns IDPs

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  • Damian J. Anderson
    http://allafrica.com/stories/200412310574.html UNHCR Repatriates Liberians Refugees, Returns IDPs The Analyst (Monrovia) December 30, 2004 Posted to the web
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1 8:11 PM

      UNHCR Repatriates Liberians Refugees, Returns IDPs

      The UNHCR has continued to assist Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) return under the interagency collaborative framework.

      According to the UNHCR Briefing Notes, thousands of IDPs have volunteered to rerun under the facilitated IDP/spontaneous returnee movement.

      During the past week, UN refugees agency, IOM and other partners, jointly expedited the return of 1,356 IDPs to various towns and villages in Bo Waterside in Tewor District and Than in Gola-Konneh District.

      The Briefing Notes said that to date, 7,541 IDPs and spontaneous returnees have been repatriated to Cape Mount County since the launch of the IDP return exercise on November 8, 2004.

      The IDPs benefit from the return package including a four-month food ration provided by the World Food Programme (WFP), non-food items and the secondary transportation allowance provided by the UNHCR.

      Meanwhile, spontaneous returnees continue to be recorded.

      On December 23, 2004, ten rented trucks with 183 spontaneous Liberians returnees and their personal effects were reported to have crossed the B'hai border in Grand Gedeh.

      Some returnees traveled from Ghana because they wanted to spend Christmas with their relatives.

      All the 59 families came to Monrovia, Montserrado County, the Briefing Notes said.

      The UNHCR said the border road from Toe Town - B'hai border crossing is now in good condition enabling the smooth passage of the returnees.

      Notwithstanding, the UNHCR noted, repairs of the bridge have commenced and will be completed before the end of this month.

      It is anticipated that brushing and rehabilitation of the Zwedru Janson Road will shortly commence.

      According to a statistic by the UNHCR, the total number of 1,375 Liberians repatriated from Ghana came either by air or sea, while 1,389 refugees returned from Guinea by land.

      The statistics also said the 740 refugees repatriated from Nigeria came by air, 1,603 came by land from Sierra Leone, 47 flew from La Cote d'Ivoire and six Liberian refugees flew home from Libya.

      The total number of 5,160 Liberian refugees has so far been repatriated under the UNHCR Facilitated Voluntary Repatriation Exercise.

      Bennie's Lawyers Frown On "Delay Tactics" -Government Lawyers Ask For Time Again By Ora Garway The Monrovia City Court at the Temple of Justice was the scene of legal tussle yesterday as the dismissed Commissioner of Customs and Excise, Charles Bennie appear before Magistrate Joseph Fayiah to answer to the charge of "Terroristic Threat" leveled against him by the Republic of Liberia.

      Mr. Bennie arrived in courtroom in a swamp of supporters of the Independent Union of which he is said to be member. They have stormed the court in anticipation to witness the litigation of the charge against their colleague.

      Minutes and hours passed for the State to produce any one of its three witnesses to testify in the preliminary hearing requested by defendant Bennie as in keeping either law.

      Since Defendant Bennie joined issued with the state during his arraignment when he told the court that he was not guilty of the charge leveled against him, the state was under obligation to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the former Customs boss had issued terroristic threat against anyone.

      With Bennie seated in the dark or prisoner's bench, Magistrate Fayiah waited to see Prosecution producing its material and oral witnesses to convict the man the state believe has transgressed the laws.

      But as time tick and the Prosecution show no sign of producing its witnesses, Defense counsel in the Charles Bennie pleaded with the court to note the "many delays being employed by state prosecutors" to expedite their case.

      The Defense lawyers saw that as baffling the case and wanted the Magistrate to intervene so as grant reprieve to their client if the state has no evidence to prosecute its case.

      Defense Counsel, comprising Cllr. James Zota, Murphy Kanneh and others pressed that the prosecution proceeds with case by producing its witnesses.

      Bennie lawyers were especially apparently concern having gone to the Magisterial Court last Thursday prepared to argue their side of the case, but trial failed to resume because of the apparent un-preparedness of state prosecutors.

      When the case finally resumed yesterday prosecution first witness CID Deputy Inspector appeared and testified.

      The government witness told the court that investigation into the Bennie case showed that the defendant denied charges of "Terroristic Threats and throwing bombs at the Finance Ministry".

      But he said he was left with no other option but to forward Bennie and others to court on the above-mentioned charges.

      Prosecutors then prayed for continuance so as give it ample time to produce other witnesses.

      They prayed the Court for a subpoena to be served on the Deputy Finance Minister Tugbe Doe and others to testify against their former workmate.

      But that request did not land well with the Defense Counsel, which prayed the court to deny the request, saying the prosecutors' submission has no legal basis and was intended to baffle the case.

      They argued that the law provides that there should be no postponement of hearing unless "diligence" has been employed by parties requesting postponement.

      Led by Counselor James Zota of the Liberty Law Firm, Monrovia, the lawyers called on the court to take judicial notice of the many delays employed in the case by prosecutors.

      It is the objective of the judicial system to protect lives and properties and make citizens happy, defense pointed out.

      They then requested the court to deny the postponement request.

      Though the Prosecution did not ask for the definite date and time, Magistrate Fayiah has reserved ruling on the law issues and has set the next hearing of the case for today.

      During the preliminary investigation at the Magisterial of cases beyond the jurisdiction the court, the Magistrate may dismiss the case for lack of evidence, but the Prosecution reserves the right to draw and indictment from the grand Inquest to prosecute the defendant at the circuit court - either criminal Court "A" or "B".

      You've Been Good Ambassador Of Peace -Gen. Opande Tells Senegalese Contingent

      By Fred Mills From Harper, Maryland County The Force Commander of the United Nations Mission in Liberia, Lt. Gen. Daniel I. Opande has described the Senegalese Contingent serving here with the UNMIL as "good ambassadors of peace" after successfully completing six months of mission in Liberia.

      Speaking in Harper, Maryland County on Tuesday at a medal parade, Gen. Opande said in his farewell message to the soldiers that it would have been sad for him to have left without giving the Senegalese Contingent their United Nations Peace medals.

      He noted that the deployment of the Senegalese Contingent was one of the last deployments that the United Nations Mission carried out in Liberia, He noted that before the Senegalese Contingent was deployed in Maryland he could not sleep well because he would get phone calls from people complaining of the citizens in the Southeast not getting the attention of UNMIL and that they are being left alone.

      He commended the Senegalese contingent for their professional and dedicated service.

      "Before your deployment six months ago, I was unable to sleep well That problem disappeared after your deployment," Gen. Opande told the SENBATT-1.

      The General, who is to relinquish his office as UNMIL Force Commander on December 31, 2004, added, "you have been good ambassadors of your country and the United Nations. And I'm glad that I leave at a time when UNMIL is right on top." SENBATT Contingent Commander Col. Mactae Gueye congratulated his men on their "discipline and determination".

      Expressing happiness over the work done, he said, "Harper, which was a ghost town on our arrival is getting back to life." The Senegalese contingent commander said that since their deployment in the Southeastern county where almost everything was destroyed, adding that he can safely say that the deployment of his men has made their mission successful.

      Col. Gueye praised the UNMIL Force Commander and added that Gen. Opande's high commitment would always stay in their mind.

      He said that following the ECOWAS mission in Liberia, UNMIL, under the command of Gen. Opande has done a great peaceful job to restore to Liberia.

      Col. Gueye added that after the DDRR process a total of 1,522 ex-combatants have been disarmed including 269 men, 459 women, 671 boys and 123 girls.

      He concluded by saying that he hopes that the first step toward peace will positively influence the peace process and the stability in Liberia.

      The scenic seaside town is indeed today an epitome of peace and tranquility, thanks to the presence of the Senegalese contingent.

      In addition to peacekeeping, Senegalese also contributed greatly to the infrastructure in Harper, refurbishing many damaged structures including two buildings now used as the Level I Hospital.

      The medal ceremony was followed by the inauguration of an eight-bed Level II Hospital with state-of-the-art facilities like CT scan, a well-equipped operating theatre and two ambulances.

      Some nine Senegalese doctors will man the hospital, which will cater to the local population, in addition to UNMIL personnel.

      The Senegalese were one of the last contingents to be deployed in this southeastern tip of Liberia.

      The deployment of the French-speaking troops proved to be a boon because they were able to bridge the communication gap and foster better understanding between Liberians in Harper and their French-speaking counterparts just across the border in Cote d'Ivoire.

      Meanwhile, a release from the UNMIL Public Affairs says some 26 officers and 574 men were decorated with the UN medals.

      The Moons Crowned King and Queen of Peace

      The Founders of the Inter-religious and International Federation for World Peace, Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Sun Myung Moon, were, last Sunday, designated "King and Queen of Peace." The award, dubbed "special title and recognition," was presented to the spiritual family by the Inter-religious & International Federation for World Peace of Liberia (IIFWP-Liberia) in conjugation with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU-Liberia) at "the House of Unification for World Peace" a training center of the FFWPU located in Sinkor.

      Also receiving the "Ambassador of Peace" award during the honoring ceremony jointly hosted by IIFWP-Liberia and FFWPU-Liberia under the theme, "Crown of Peace Award Ceremony: Leadership in Reconciliation and Peacemaking," were Rural Development Minister E. C .B. Jones, NTGL Chairman Gyude Bryant (who was not in attendance), and Comm. F.

      Yonda of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

      Addressing the 60-person audience as keynote speaker on the topic, "A Man Of Vision For Global Peace In The 21st Century," Rev. Gerald B. Coleman, Acting Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Liberia and board member of IIFWP/Liberia, presented an overview of the life work of Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Moon as global peacemakers centered on their view of the family as a school for raising future leaders with the heart of True Love.

      He said Rev. and Mrs. Moon were true champions of love just from their victorious officiating of the marriage of over 800 million couples worldwide.

      Rev. Coleman then recommended that Liberia join hands with the global community in presenting to the Moons national honor of the "King & Queen of Peace." Speaking on behalf of her husband, Rev. Augustine Akoi who is the President of FFWPU-Liberia, Mrs. Rita Akoi told the audience and the honorees that the main objective of the program was to advocate greater responsibility amongst national and community leaders to work for and preserve peace throughout the nation.

      For his part, one of the recipients of the "Ambassador of Peace" award, E. C. B Jones, acknowledged the government's recognition of the illustrious life achievement of Rev. Dr. and Mrs. Moon and thus fully endorsed their coronation as King and Queen of Peace.

      He further informed the audience and guests of honor that NTGL Vice Chairman, Wesley Johnson who should have represented Chairman Gyude Bryant at the ceremony, had traveled to America this month to attend a special global peace initiative also sponsored by IIFWP.

      Also making special remarks, Comm. F. Yonda expressed appreciation to the IIFWP for their work in seeking to promote religious harmony worldwide as an avenue for global peace.

      He admitted that the activities of IIFWP were needed at this crucial period in the nation's history when suspicion and hatred had permeated the very foundation of the society as manifested in the communal violence of October 28 this year.
      Damian J. Anderson    damian@...    http://www.unification.net

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