UN Resident Coordinator ends Monitoring Mission to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh
Zwedru, Grand Gedeh: DSRSG/UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Yacoub El Hillo on 29-30 September 2016 ended a two-day monitoring mission to Zwedru, Grand Gedeh County. The mission was intended to gather firsthand information on the political, economic and security situation in the county while meeting the county authorities, security officials, market women, youth groups, education officials.
The Resident Coordinator and delegation first met with county authorities at the administrative building to start the mission. Grand Gedeh County Assistant Superintendent for Development Mr. Abraham T. Gbeway on behalf of county authorities gave key development in the county. He outlined some challenges faced by the County including bad roads, increase in the prices of basic commodities and rumors of encroachment by Burkinabes from Ivory Coast who are involved in illicit farming. “The road is a major challenge for this county. Presently the road is cut and because of this prices have increased. One bag of rice is 3,000LD instead of 1,600 or 1700. Without the road we cannot do anything” He explained. Mr. Gbeway expressed special thanks to UNMIL and other UN Agencies for their support to Health, Education and development initiatives in Grand Gedeh. Other Ministries including Gender, Education, and Transport highlighted other challenges.
Meeting with youth and ECOWAS Project
The delegation visited the Youth Center and held discussion with youths of the county along with Civil Society Organization. Huge disenchantments were expressed over unemployment, lack of scholarships and vocational training and marginalization. “We don’t have jobs, scholarship opportunity and the road condition is very terrible. We feel marginalized in so many ways. We are cut off from the rest of the country as if we are part of different country” Richard D Gbarduo, CSO Representative elaborated. Other youth voiced similar concerns requesting better skills to empower themselves.
Mr. El Hillo thanked the youth for expressing their concerns and challenged them to be the change that they want. “I urged you to be that change that you want. You should challenge your lawmakers on these issues you just raised. You have to empower yourself as you seek help from others” Mr. El Hillo encouraged the youth.
European Union ECOWAS Small Arms Project coordinator and beneficiaries attended a briefing on the current status of the project. Ms. De Etta Jolo gave an overview of the project and indicated that the lack of incentives is hindering collection exercise.
The Resident Coordinator and delegation held meeting with officials of the Liberia National Police, Bureau of Immigration and Community Watch Forum of the county. LNP County Commander Fasu Sherrif, outlined regular border patrols along with UNMIL and BIN, county security officials meetings, settling of disputes and follow up on cases and support to community watch forum as some of the activities carryout by the Police.
UN Resident Coordinator Mr. Yacoub El Hillo travelled to the Armed Forces of Liberia Zwedru Barracks to inspect UNMIL Quick Impact Project. Two housing facilities were renovated for soldiers’ accommodation under the project.
Continuing, the mission next visit was PTP Refugee Camp. Refugees from Ivory Coast said their lands have been occupied by Burkinabes and they don’t feel safe to return home. “I urged you to take advantage of UNHCR Voluntary Repatriation programme to return home. You cannot be a refugee in another country throughout. Don’t put your hope in resettlement. It might not come. This is the best chance and opportunity. Take advantage of it” Mr. El Hillo noted. PTP refugee camp is hosting over 8,000 Ivorian refugees since the crisis in Ivory Coast. The camp is being supported by UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF and other partners.
Visit to the market and school
The mission also toured Zwedru market. The women spokesperson welcomed the RC to Zwedru. She stated that the road is a major problem encounter by everyone in the county. Bad road to Monrovia and lack of farm to market roads have caused increase in the price of commodities with most farmers unable to reach their produce, she explained.
Mr. Joshua Dorbor, Principal Zwedru Multi-lateral High School and officials welcomed the RC and his team visiting the school facility. He said the school has over 500 students under its academic and vocational training programs. He also indicated that due to the lack of electricity the vocational session which runs from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. was rescheduled to 3 p.m. - 6 p.m. Apart from electricity he furthered flagged lack for computers, teachers’ salaries and incentive, text books as some additional challenges.
Mr. El Hillo explained to the school officials that there are many similar requests from other schools to the Ministry of Education. He said what he could do is to advocate on their behalf more particularly.
The RC and delegation departed for Monrovia on 1 October 2016.