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Drugs Test For Returnees …Spokesperson Reveals

by newsmanager

MONROVIA: The Spokesperson of Liberian returnees from Ghana’s demolished Buduburam Refugee Camp has disclosed that “a serious incident took place at their center in Johnsonville, outside Monrovia, on Monday night, June 17, 2024.

Mr. Martin Joseph, spokesperson of the Liberian returnees disclosed that on Monday night, June 17, 2024, some of the returnees were taken to a Rehabilitation Center based on claims by some medical practitioners who tested them when they recently arrived in Bong County, Liberia, that they were “drug addicts.”

According to the spokesperson of the returnees, when they recently arrived in Bong County, Mr. Patrick Worzie, Executive Director of the Liberia Refugees Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), openly disclosed that 80% of the returnees were alleged drug addicts.

The LRRRC Executive Director is said to have made the claims after he brought medical practitioners to screen or check the returnees.

“Mr. Worzie promised to rehabilitate those of us that they claimed are drug addicts, and after that, they will give our resettlement packages,” he stressed.

Mr. Joseph said some of the returnees were taken to the rehabilitation center in Johnsonville.

However, at the Rehabilitation Center, the returnees were made to understand by one of the ex-Generals in Liberia’s past civil war, known as ‘General Power’ who is spearheading the rehabilitation process at the center that the people who Mr. Worzie took to the center and mentioned that they are drug addicts are not under the influence of drugs after he ran a test on them,” Mr. Joseph further disclosed.

In a related development, the Liberian returnees are demanding full resettlement of packages promised them by the Government of Liberia (GOL) upon their return from Ghana to Liberia.

The first group of Liberian returnees arrived in Liberia from Ghana in May 2024 and the second group landed in Liberia June 2024.

The Liberians returnees were repatriated by LRRRC with support from the Government of Liberia after the demolition of Buduburam Camp in Ghana where they stayed as refugees for years.

It was an apparent disappointing scene on Tuesday, June 18, 2024, in Johnson when many of the returnees were seen with placards, with many inscriptions, protesting for release of their resettlement packages.

The spokesperson and leader of the returnees, Martin Joseph, explained to reporters that the protest is for the Government of Liberia, through LRRC, to address their concerns.

Martin disclosed that they have three concerns but the first and foremost has to do with their care and resettlement packages that were promised.

According to him, they were told in Ghana by Liberian officials that when they come to Liberia, the Government of Liberia, in partnership with donors was going to distribute packages to help them for resettlement, but since their arrival in the country, they have not seen anything and the government is not meeting up with promises made to them.

“So, this is why we are coming out peacefully with this protest. For each time we try to address the LRRRC Executive Director, Mr. Patrick Worzie, on the matter, he uses intimidation statements that we are illegal occupants of the center that they provided for us here in Johnsonville and that he will find means to put us in jail,” Martin said.

Martin also disclosed that a number of their friends (returnees) are in jail just for asking Mr. Worzie questions that have to do with their packages.

He said some of their friends were taken to the rehabilitation center based upon claims from medical practitioners who tested them when they arrived in Bong County and said they were drug addicts.

He indicated that when they arrived in Bong County, Mr. Worzie openly said that 80% of the returnees are drug addicts and he brought medical practitioners to screen and check them and after that they were relocated to Johnson center.

“Mr. Worzie promised to rehabilitate those of us that they claimed are drug addicts and after that they will give our resettlement packages; but the people were taken to the rehabilitation center and were made to understand by one of the generals at the center ‘General Power’ who is carrying out the rehabilitation process that the people who Mr. Worzie took to the center as drug addicts are not under the influence of drugs after he ran a test on them,” he noted.

Martin added that the people who they took to the rehabilitation center came back to the Johnsonville center on Monday night, June 17, 2024, with anger and protest.

“The people came last night from the rehabilitation center and we all were waiting for Mr. Worzie to come and speak to us concerning our packages because we are tired, it has been one month since we came back Liberia without our packages being given to us. you can’t be talking to angry people and using violent and abusive words, so what you expect from us. Some of us started replying to the demeaning words by Mr. Worzie against us, and that was how he ordered officers of the Emergency Support Unit (ERU) of the Liberia National Police (LNP) who came to the center and beats on us,” one of the female protesters said.

The claims of the returnees that ERU officers beat on them have not been independently confirmed.

“We have about 60% of the returnees who are women, 10% children and the rest 30% are youth. For Mr. Worzie to claim that we are drugs addicts and for “General Power” who he sent us to for treatment to report that we are not drug addicts based on the test he conducted is what brought the tension,” Martin said.

The Liberian returnees maintain that they are not just demanding money but the entire resettlement packages which include healthcare, education, housing among others.

They vowed not to stop until their resettlement packages are made available.

They also disclosed plan to meet with President Joseph Boakai and House Speaker, Jonathan Fonati Koffa as well as House Deputy Speaker, Thomas Fallah.

It can be recalled that the Deputy Executive Director for Operations of LRRRC, Richard Hoff, at the launch of the repatriation process in Ghana told the returnees that One UN has agreed to carry out a rapid assessment of what their livelihoods will entail, and one hundred communities have also been identified for their stay before reintegration.

So far, the LRRC has not commented on claims that some of the returnees have been brutalized and detained.

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