Some 11,000 Liberian refugees in Ghana may end up being aliens if they do not take advantage of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR’s) voluntary repatriation program to return home.
This is because effective July 1, 2012, the UNHCR will wash its hands off the refugees when it activates its refugee cessation clause of 1951 which will effectively strip all Liberian refugees in Ghana of their refugee status, hence they will not be under the care of either the UNHCR or the Ghana Refugees Board.
Explaining the reason behind the UNHCR’s move on Multi TV’s current affairs program, pm: EXPRESS, the Assistant Public Information Officer of the UNHCR, Ewurabena Hutchful said the move had become necessary since calm had been restored in Liberia after years of a civil war.
Thousands of Liberians fled to Ghana in the early 1990s when their country was at war. Majority of those Liberians however have returned home either on their own accord or through the UNHCR’s voluntary repatriation program.
But according to the UNHCR, some 11,000 plus Liberian refugees still live in Ghana.
When the cessation clause is activated, Liberian refugees currently residing at the Budumburam Camp will have to opt for either an impending mass repatriation exercise or regularize their stay in Ghana or other sub-regional countries they find themselves in, lest they end up as aliens in Ghana.
The activation of the cessation clause comes after years of deliberation by the international community.
Ms. Hutchful however dispelled suggestions that the cessation clause is being activated because of Ghana’s impending elections in December.
“The declaration has nothing to do with the upcoming elections in Ghana. The absence of a Refugee Board then and the Ivorian situation delayed the declaration” she explained adding that having had two successful elections after the 1989 civil war in Liberia, the international community thought it right to activate the clause while UN peacekeepers are also withdraw from that country.
Programme Coordinator for the Ghana Refugee Board, Tetteh Paddy who was also a guest on the show indicated that Liberian refugees who choose to stay in Ghana would have to settle in other localities apart from the Budumburam Camp when the June 30 deadline expires.
He advised Liberian refugees seeking local integration to go through the legal processes of acquiring documentation to authenticate their stay.