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Nigeria signed an agreement with Liberia on Thursday for the return of more than 2,000 Liberian refugees who fled when their country first descended into civil war more than 15 years ago.
ABUJA, Nigeria (AP)--Nigeria signed an agreement with Liberia on Thursday for the return of more than 2,000 Liberian refugees who fled when their country first descended into civil war more than 15 years ago.
The repatriation plan, based on the assumption that peace was finally returning to the war-weary country, was also endorsed by a representative of the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.
The senior Nigerian official on refugee issues, Moremi Soyinka-Onijala, signed on behalf of her government, while Philip Dwuye of the Liberian Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission signed for his own government.
UNHCR representative Alphonse Malanda urged the parties involved to work for a successful return that will "enable returnees to be integrated into the society."
The repatriation of Liberian refugees in Nigeria began with 903 sent home last year by ship, Soyinka-Onijala, said.
Another 2,660 remain, of whom 2,009 will be leaving under the agreement signed on Thursday.
Former Liberian president Charles Taylor fled into exile in Nigeria in August 2003 under international pressure and besieged by rebels opposed to his rule, paving the way for a transitional government to end more than 14 years of turmoil.
Nigeria is facing growing international pressure to surrender Taylor to a U.N.-backed war crimes court in Sierra Leone, where he was indicted for crimes deriving from allegations that he backed a brutal rebel force during that country's civil war in the 1990s.
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