Wednesday, March 26, 2008

"The refugees Incident Is Isolated”

…Ambassador Says It Can’t Affect Bilateral Ties
By: Bill K. Jarkloh

The Ghanaian Ambassador to Liberia, Major General Francis Adu-Amanfoh says the current incident in involving Liberians in Ghana is an isolated situation that cannot affect Ghanaian-Liberian relations.

Ambassador Adu-Amanfoh said, “What’s happening in Ghana regarding the refugees crisis I will classify as an isolated case; it is not a regular feature and so both government are going what they can to resolve it within a friendly, brotherly and cordial atmosphere.”

Ghanaian Ambassador F. Adu-Amanfoh and Liberia's Foreign Minister Olubanke King-Akerele consulting in Voinjama on the refugee crisis in Ghana. It was during a cabinet retreat in Lofa County

The Ghanaian Ambassador made the statement in Voinjama, Lofa County when he attended a cabinet treat of the Liberian Government at the invitation of the President of Liberia, Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. The cabinet retreat was loaded with the refugees
crisis in Ghana, but the Presidential Spokesman, Cyrus Badio who addressed Journalists in Lofa described the conduct of the Liberians in Ghana as “a slap in the
face of Ghana”.

Badio was considering the crafting of the Comprehensive Peace According (CPA) in Accra in 2003, the hosting of thousands of Liberian refuses in Ghana and the vanguard role played by Ghanaian troops along with Nigerian soldiers that prepared the ground for
the rehatting of ECOWAS forces into UNMIL of which Ghana continues to sustain its forces.
Addressing the situation, the Ghana envoy said told a local radio station in Voinjama that the situation was provoked by some 600 Liberians acting in the name of refugees who have decided to demonstrate for US$1,000 and/or resettlement in a third country preferably in Europe and America.

Some of the Liberian refugees in Ghana who are making the demands. The want resettlement in a third country preferrably in Europe or America. Besides the want US$1,000 each - Are they reasonable enough?

Ambassador Adu-Amanfoh explained to Radio Kintoma FM 101.1 that the reports from Ghana were indicating that these 600 Liberians were preventing their
compatriots in Ghana from going about their normal duties of reintegrating themselves and their children from going to schools.

“The Ghanaian security therefore decided to intervene by removing the 600 from the camp to another camp to allow the others have the opportunity to go about their reintegration process,” the Ambassador explained. He said the President of Liberia had spoke with her Ghanaian counterpart, President John A. Kufuor, and that the issue was being handled.

The Government, according to information disclosed by President Sirleaf in Voinjama shortly after departure, had constituted a delegation headed by Foreign Minister Olubanke King-Akerele and dispatched them to Ghana to consult on resolving the crisis.

This was prior to the deportation of some 16 Liberians who were part of the refugees. It was gathered from Ghana that some of the demonstrators went naked in the streets in protest for their demands. Meanwhile, latest information emerging from the Ghanaian capital, Accra, says protesting Liberian refugees at the Buduburam Refugee Camp have left the football field where they have been holding daily sit-in for the past three weeks.
They have been demanding a thousand dollars each from the UN refugee agency for repatriation to Liberia.

The decision to leave their protest site, according to information, followed a meeting Monday with the advanced team of a Liberian government delegation headed by the Liberian Ambassador to Ghana. “Yesterday the refugee camp received a four-man delegation headed by the Liberian ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Rudolph Van-Ballmoos. They arrived at the camp and held a first-hand meeting with the Liberian refugees appealing to them to see how best they could down the protestation which has lasted for five weeks now,” he said.

The report said the meeting was a very successful one during which the refugees presented several petitions to the delegation.” The refugees gave a verbal petition to the Liberian delegation pleading that they are wishing to return to Liberian and that the 20 kilo allotted by the UNHCR to them is very inadequate, and that they are appealing to the UNHCR to increase the $100 to a $1,000 to enable them to return home and resettle themselves after 14 years of civil war.”

The report further that the refugees also told the visiting Liberian delegation that raids on the camp by Ghanaian security forces have caused men refugee to flee the camp into hiding. “They were appealing as well that due to the security raids which has caused all of the men to flee the camp and they are in hiding as we speak, that the Ghana government should be able to exercise restraint to cut this off so their men and brothers would return back to the refugee camp. And they are also requesting the more than 600 women and children that are being detained at the Kodiatbat Center in the eastern region
of Ghana to be returned to the refugee camp for them to be united once more with their families,” he said.

According to Mr. Cephas , a Liberian journalist on the camp having being satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, gathered their belongings and began to leave the football field where they have been protesting for five weeks. “Immediately as a result of the meeting, the ladies in more 200 plus roll up their mattresses, their mats, their lappas, and every belonging from the field and began to sing victorious songs, and that they wanted to return to Liberia and continue to match on with the delegation saying, we want to go, we want to go.

At that moment, immediately they began to set on fire all of the refuse that the caused on the football field and some of the stuff that they have built along the roadside were set on fire,” he said. Mr. Cephas said a high power Liberian government delegation headed by the foreign minister arrived in Ghana Monday and was scheduled to hold meetings with senior Ghanaian government officials, including President John Kufuor. But Cephas said he wasn’t sure whether the delegation would meet with the refugees.

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