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Saturday, July 20, 2024

ALJA DENOUNCES LRRRC BOSS’ LABEL OF RETURNEES AS “ADDICTS AND CRAZIES”

Date:

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – The Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) has described as unacceptable, the recent description of Liberian returnees from Ghana as  “drug addicts and crazies”, by the Executive Director of the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), Patrick Worzie.

In a press statement issued recently, the Association says it is disconcerting for Liberians to hear Mr. Worzie  shame and attempt to re-traumatize Liberian returnees who fled  to Ghana as refugees due to the civil war,  by referring to them as “addicts and crazies.” The LRRRC is a state-owned humanitarian agency established in 1993 by legislative enactment to provide protection for refugees, asylum seekers, stateless persons, migrants, and the internally displaced.

ALJA said even though the LRRRC later recanted the statement made by its Executive Director, it believes Mr. Wozie should never have used such condescending terminologies to describe the returnees. The organization urged the LRRRC Boss to cross check his statistics and facts in the future before making public statements.

In a press release issued on June 13, 2024, the Officer in Charge of ALJA, Joey Kennedy, termed Executive Director Worzie’s comment as insensitive, off the cuff, and demeaning to the returnees. Mr. Kennedy say ALJA abhors the pronouncement and calls on the Liberian government and its international partners to take concrete actions to effectively and humanely resettle and reintegrate the returnees into the larger Liberian society. ALJA wants Mr. Worzie and the LRRRC workforce to ensure efficiency and probity in the provision of emergency food assistance, medical supplies, and other basic necessities of life to the returnees instead of making disparaging comments about them.

The ALJA officer in charge also called on the LRRRC to assist the returnees secure stable housing, employment, and referrals for short term job skill development programs.

On May 24, 2024, the Agency reportedly repatriated 762 Liberians from Ghana following the demolition of the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Accra, Ghana, where they had lived. The Camp was demolished in April 2024 by Ghanian authorities. The returnees are reportedly the first batch of  more than four thousand Liberian refugees that are expected to be repatriated from Ghana and resettled in Liberia by the LRRRC.

The returnees currently reside at a transit center constructed by the Liberian government through the LRRRC in Sergeant Kollie Town, Suakoko, Bong County. On May 30, 2024, Executive Director Worzie told reporters at the regular press briefing of the Ministry of Information Cultural Affairs and Tourism (MICAT) that 80 percent of those repatriated are “drug addicts and15 are crazy individuals”.

ALJA is a conglomeration of current and retired Liberian journalists residing in the Americas. It is a 501c (3) non-profit organization. The Association was founded in 1998 with the objectives of advancing press freedom through media capacity building, and the fostering of good governance in Liberia through media advocacy.

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