The Federal Republic of Germany, through its embassy in Monrovia, has awarded scholarships to 15 Ivorian refugees to pursue higher education in various tertiary institutions in Liberia.
According to a UNHCR press release, the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative – DAFI (Deutsche Akademische Fluchtlings Initiatives) Scholarship was awarded to deserving refugees, who are studying at the University of Liberia, United Methodist University, Stella Maris Polytechnic and the Nimba County Community College.
Under the DAFI programme, refugees receive tuition, housing, scholastic materials, clothing or uniform, food and transportation allowance.
"UNHCR has enormous interest in the education of refugees, but we do not usually have the funding to support refugees at the tertiary level. We are, therefore, extremely grateful to the German government for this significant contribution to the Ivorian refugee programme,"
said Representative Khassim Diagne.
He thanked the Government of Liberia for supporting UNHCR's activities.
For her part, the Executive Director of the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, Cllr. Abla G. Williams, commended the German government for assisting refugees to have "a window of opportunity to the future".
German Ambassador, Ralph Timmermann, said the scholarship programme is named after Albert Einstein, who was a German-born theoretical physicist. He won the 1921 Nobel Prize for Physics, and was a refugee.
"Refugees have enormous potential," he said, urging the awardees to make the best use of the opportunity and to eventually return to Côte d'Ivoire and contribute to the development of their country.
According to the press release, Ambassador Timmermann said the DAFI programme currently supports more than 2,200 refugees from 39 countries.
"We are very thankful to the German government for coming in to boost us to acquire quality education," said Dr. G. Gervais, a Sociology and Peace Studies student at the United Methodist University.
During Liberia's civil crisis, dozens of Liberian refugees benefited from the DAFI scholarship programme while in countries of asylum. Most of them have now returned home and are working in various Government ministries and organizations.
A former Liberian refugee from Ghana and a former DAFI beneficiary, William Sheldrick Marshal, said the scholarship gave many refugees a source of hope and changed their lives.
The ceremony was attended by a representative of the Special Emergency Activity to Restore Children's Hope (SEARCH), the organization that will be implementing the scholarship program.