Ghana, a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees, has over the past three years issued work permits to only 27 refugees.

Since the inception of 2019, no refugee in the country has been granted a work permit due to challenges in interpreting some sections of the law on refugees.

The Programmes Co-ordinator of the Ghana Refugee Board, Tetteh Padi, gave out the information at a Refugee Entrepreneurship and Employment forum held in Accra on Tuesday.

Though he failed to mention the exact ‘areas of concern’ regarding the law, he indicated that dialogue was ‘far advanced’ in terms of resolving the issue together with the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS).

According to the Ghana Refugee Board, Ghana has about 13,438 persons of concern, who are refugees and asylum seekers from over 34 countries.

There are about 8,331 residing in camps, while 5,107 reside outside designated camps in the country.

Mr. Padi said the difficulty in acquiring work permit had forced most refugees – some of whom are highly skilled – to work in the informal sector of the economy.

He, therefore, called for the adoption of pragmatic measures to improve the situation of refugees which would inure to the benefit of the country.

Superintendent Vera Arizie of the Operation Secretariat of GIS said the challenge of acquiring work permit for refugees included the reluctance of potential employers to complete application forms of refugees which would require employers to make certain disclosures.

Besides, she suggested the need for liaison between the Refugee Board and other stakeholders such as the Immigrants Quota Committee under the Ministry of the Interior to fashion out modalities for issuing and renewing work permits for refugees.

The Country Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Esther Kiragu, said the growing number of displacements around the globe as a result of protracted conflicts had become necessary for host countries such as Ghana to look at integrating refugees who can be regarded as agents of development.

“No one is an island. We have passed the era of ‘them and us’. What affects your neighbour will have an impact on you too eventually hence the call for global responsibility sharing,” she said.

A displaced person, Sarah Woldeamanuel, who is a trained psychologist, advocated that policy on access to public services needed to be reviewed in order to accommodate persons that have been granted refugee status.