THE STORY OF GEORGIA CAGE
A new beginning after the war, reintegration for Liberian returnees
“I believe it was the right choice to come back home. I feel good about coming home. The opportunities I have now would never have been available in a foreign country as a refugee.”
by Daniel CHANG, 25 Nov 2017
Liberia was affected by a devastating civil war between 1989 and 2003. A quarter of a million people lost their lives. Three quarters of a million people lost their homes and became refugees as they fled from the fighting.
Many of the persons displaced by the war remained refugees for a long time. When the conflict ended some of them voluntarily returned to Liberia. Then, in July 2012, a cessation clause entered into force for remaining refugees from Liberia on the basis that the peace and stability in the country was restored.
This meant that those who had fled Liberia would no longer be regarded as refugees and, unless they met meet the necessary legal requirements of that country for asylum, would have to return, the majority of the remaining refugees did.
Georgia Gage was one of them. She and her three children returned to Monrovia in 2013, after 10 years as refugees in Nigeria. “It was a bold step to take. Living in country that is not yours is very difficult. For me it was necessary to come home,” recalls Gage.
In April 2013, UNIDO launched the Reintegration for Liberian Returnees through the Skills Training and Job Creation Programme.
With funding from the Government of Japan, in close cooperation with the Liberian Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC) and the Liberian Returnee Network, UNIDO implemented entrepeneurship development and vocational skills training programmes to help returning refugees to reintegrate into their country of origin.
Gage was one of 300 returnees who successfully applied for vocational skills training.The programme offered 22 market-oriented specializations. She took the training for curtain-making, and learnt to use a sewing machine for the first time. She also learnt business-management skills.
“The training helped me improve the quality of my family life very much. I am forever grateful to UNIDO,” she says proudly. Before leaving Liberia she was a high school graduate. “I had no trade or career to count on. So, when I came back, with the help of UNIDO, I had something to sustain my family. I am truly grateful.”