LRRRC Executive Director Recants Statement on Returnees Addicted to Drugs

MONROVIA, Montserrado – After announcing that 80 percent of the 770 Liberian returnees brought from Ghana are drug users, Patrick Worzie, executive director of the Liberia Refugees Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, has recanted his statement.

At a news conference in Monrovia, Worzie said following thorough screening and validation of the repatriated Liberians, the LRRRC found that the information on the number of Liberian returnees on drugs was incorrect. He blamed statisticians for giving him the wrong information.

He indicated that following the screening of former Liberian refugees, LRRRC only found a limited number of the returnees on drugs. He promised to disclose the actual figures in the future.

“I apologize for the misinformation that was provided to the public on the percentage released at the government’s national platform,” he stated.

Worzie said the LRRRC, the government’s leading agency responsible for repatriation, is committed to providing the public with accurate information surrounding the ongoing repatriation process. He noted that the commission had already taken administrative action against the staff who had provided him with misleading information.

Of the 770 returnees arriving in Liberia, Worzie said there are over 100 children who are orphans, 15 mentally ill persons, and over 16 pregnant women.

One of the returnees told reporters that the LRRRC had not been treating them well. Refusing to give his name for fear of retribution, he said LRRRC had not performed any drug test on returnees. Additionally, he said the care being provided was limited.

“How he [Worzie] described us and the place we are sleeping, including the food we eat, shows that we are still refugees,” the returnee said. “I am afraid that we could be dumped into the streets to find our own way, though we are yet to locate our families.”

He alleged that LRRRC gave him and 44 others US$10 each to silence them from speaking out against issues affecting them at the transit center in Bong. He called on the government and partners to get involved in repatriation to ensure they are treated with dignity.

Concerns over the conditions at the transit center have also claimed the attention of the Bong County Legislative Caucus. Bong’s Sen. Johnny Kpehe visited the center and found the conditions lacking. Meanwhile, Rep. Foday Fahnbulleh committed to working with the caucus to improve conditions.

“Until they are taken from Bong to their respective homes, we will ensure they are living [in] conditions [that] are up to standard, and we are committed to that as a caucus,” Fahnbulleh said. He vowed to write the House of Representatives to invite the LRRRC leader to account for the treatment of the returnees.

Featured photo by Sampson David

George Momo

George K. Momo is also a correspondent of Liberia Broadcasting System and manager of Cape Rock Radio. He serves as acting president of the Maryland Press Association and the secretary-general of the South Eastern Journalist Association of Liberia. He is the Press Union of Liberia 2018 Human Rights Reporter award winner. George started his journalism career in Kakata at Atlantic Radio; he has over eight years working experience in community radio journalism. George is also a senior student of William V.S. Tubman University College of Education majoring in Early Childhood Education.

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