Refugees
Gerihun Camp, Bo
The International Rescue Committee (IRC)
spent years in Sierra Leone supporting
internally displaced people (IDP).  IRC
managed a camp in Gerihun which was
about 20 minutes away from the country's
second city, Bo.  When I arrived in Sierra
Leone the IDP camps were going through a
transformation.  By May 2002, there had
been fair and violence-free election in the
country which provided a pretense for
people to return home.  At the same time
the war in Liberia was turning terribly bad.  
Refugees in the thousands started to cross
the border.  In essence, we had to help
people leave (sometime persuade) the
camps at the same time we needed to set
up emergency relief for those new arrivals.  
It provided us with a dilemma of conflicting
needs.
Liberian Refugee. Gerihun Camp, Bo
The GBV work with refugees was similar to
what we did in Kono just in a different
environment and atmosphere.  Working on a
community based program with refugees is
unique because basically each refugee's
community and sense of comfort was
shattered during the war.  They have to
rebuild community strutures.......sometimes
they don't want to because they figured
"why? This isn't my home".   One element
that was substantially different was our
processing of war related assaults at the
border crossing in Zimmi.  Our typical
program rely on people coming out to us or
being referred to us.  We improve intake by
improving people's trust in the system.  With
the refugees we took a more active
approach to ensure that women who had
been assaulted during the war knew that
there were facilities available for them to get
help.
Liberian Refugee. Bandajuma, Pujehun
Upon my arrival in Sierra Leone a
report came out, which my Guinean
staff had helped, damning NGOs for
complicity in sexual exploitation that was
being perpetrated in the camps by NGO
staff.  Most employees didn't see the
problem (nor did many refugee
women).  Throughout my contract, we
continually trained staff and refugees
about exploitation and helped form
policy to address the problem.  While
most agencies focused on sexual
exploitation in the camps we also
address the issue in the returnee
communities as well.  
Boys. Gerihun Refugee Camp, Bo
Hanging Out at the Youth Center. Gerihun Refugee Camp, Bo