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General News
Liberian refugees in Ghana to lose status 7/1/2012

In less than 24 hours thousands of Liberian refugees in Ghana will lose all the rights and protection they have been enjoying.

A June 30 deadline for revocation of refugee status catches up with those who refused to be voluntarily repatriated.

Those here by tomorrow will be at the mercy of the Ghanaian government.

But it appears the Liberians themselves are ready for whatever fate befalls them.

An opinion leader, named only as Williams at the Buduburam Liberian Refugee camp said they fend for themselves even as refugees and are ready to pay for the cost of stay in Ghana.

He said quite a number of them have accepted that after Friday they will be no longer seen as refugees but stressed it will be against their human rights if forcibly evicted.

He said he has his own plans to be regularized in Ghana and is ready to pay for everything, even if it means paying for the oxygen they breathe.

Lisa Cudjoe with the UNHCR protection unit in Ghana said a total of 11,295 Liberian refugees are in Ghana out of which 9,122 opted to be repatriated or be locally integrated and there are others who also wanted to remain as refugees in Ghana.

She said a total of 2,173 did not make known an intention of what they want to do whether to be repatriated or be considered as refugees in Ghana.

According to her, the last category of people will be the worst affected if the revocation comes to effect by tomorrow.

“It means as from tomorrow they will no longer be offered international protection if they want to remain in Ghana they will have to regularize their stay with the immigration service that is the Ghana government,” she explained.

She added “repatriation is still ongoing for Liberian refugees even though the declaration of cessation will be tomorrow.

“Once you have registered your intention to go back we will make sure that this is done even after the June 30 deadline.

Asked why the need for the revocation of the refugee status, Cudjoe said: “The situation in the country of origin [Liberia] that called for international protection to be accorded to its citizens who fled the country has changed, so it is time for those who wants to go back, to do so.”

Programmes coordinator of the Ghana Refugee board Tetteh Padi said for those who have opted local integration will assisted to regularize their stay here in Ghana.

He said the refugees will not receive any material assistance but will get protection from the state up until the time their local integration procedures have been concluded.

Padi said they will be screened before the local integration will be over. He said those who have not made their intentions known are on their own for now.

Tetteh Padi said for those who are yet to make up their mind will be seen as Ecowas citizens after June 30 but after 90 days they will be dealt with by the Ghana Immigration.

He said the Buduburam camp will still remain under the care of the Refugee Board until all processing of refugees have been completed.

He said once all refugees are processed the land will be handed over to its owners.

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