Monrovia – The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Embassy of Burkina Faso have agreed on what is believed to be an amicable solution to the alleged illegal occupation of Burkinabe nationals mostly in the forest region of Grand Gedeh County.
The decision was reached when Internal Affairs Minister Honorable Varney A. Sirleaf and Mr. Mahamadou Zongo, Ambassador of Burkina Faso accredited to Liberia resident in Cote D’Ivoire met Monday, April 25, 2022 at the Capitol Hill Office of Minister Sirleaf.
During the meeting, Minister Sirleaf highlighted the issue of the illegal settlement of Burkinabe in forest areas which according to him has created deep security concerns.
Minister Sirleaf told the visiting Burkinabe Envoy that there have been repeated reports from Liberian communities bordering Cote D’lvoire and increasing concerns raised by security agents and citizens regarding the swelling number of aliens mostly believed to have travelled from Burkina Faso.
A press release issued by the Ministry said the Internal Affairs Ministry made particular emphasis on Gbao and B’hai Administrative Districts of Grand Gedeh County which are reported to have the highest number of the Burkinabe.
Minister Sirleaf said while Liberia respects and upholds the ECOWAS’ Protocol on free movement of ECOWAS citizens within the region, it was important to note that such free movements must be documented especially beyond the statutory period so as to avoid uncertainty.
The Minister and the Ambassador then agreed to embark on the process of profiling all Burkinabe nationals in the region for a period of one month to take stock of where they reside and activities they are involved with. Ambassador Zongo also committed that the Embassy of Burkina Faso will provide the needed support towards the profiling exercise.
Meanwhile, Minister Sirleaf has mandated Grand Gedeh County Superintendent Kai Farley, who was present at Monday’s meeting, to immediately commence the exercise in collaboration with the District Commissioners of Gbao and B’hai Administrative Districts where the profiling process is expected to begin.
The release said following the Profiling Exercise, both Minister Sirleaf and Ambassador Zongo agreed to meet in Grand Gedeh County in order to engage with the Burkinabe community.
Minister Sirleaf believes that a possible option is for Government through the Liberia Immigration Service (LIS) to issue legal document including Resident Permit in accordance with Liberian and ECOWAS Regulations.
At the same time, Ambassador Zongo lauded the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the hospitality accorded him since his arrival in Liberia and promised to increase his visit to Liberia.
He release said the Burkinabe Ambassador praised His Excellency President George Manneh Weah for the reception accorded Burkinabe nationals in Liberia regardless of their illegal and unknown status.
He promised to continuously work with the Ministry of Internal Affairs in order to ensure security of his compatriots in areas where they find themselves.
The initiative is part of ongoing cross-border program between Liberia and Cote D’lvoire officially starting in 2013 when Liberia hosted the Joint Council of Chiefs and Elders Meeting (JCCEM) in Zwedru and later enhanced in January-2018 by President George Manneh Weah and President Alassane Ouattara who mandated their Ministers of Internal Affairs to lead cross-border cooperation, peace, trade and commerce, among others.