Home Governance Over 1,600 Liberian Ex-Refugees Shelter In School Structures …LRRRC Asserts; As President Boakai Appeals To Ghana For Safety

Over 1,600 Liberian Ex-Refugees Shelter In School Structures …LRRRC Asserts; As President Boakai Appeals To Ghana For Safety

by newsmanager

MONROVIA/ACCRA: The Liberia Refugees Repartition and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), has revealed that as a result of the current demolition exercise in the West African state of Ghana, over 1,600 former Liberian refugees are now sheltering in school buildings and other public facilities in that country.

According to LRRRC, the situation is causing the Liberian families, especially the women and children hardship.

Besides LRRRC, the situation has drawn the attention of several Liberians including humanitarian organizations such as Liberia Returnee Network.

The Government of Liberia concerns grew after it was reported that the Liberian former refugee camp in Ghana was demolished on February 28, 2022.
Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), in a release, dated February 28, 2024, following the demolition of the camp, stated that the demolition of the camp is a result of instruction of the Gomoa chiefs and the Government of Ghana.
According to the LRRRC in 2022, the Gomoa Chiefs complained and threatened the former Liberian refugees with similar demolition exercise, but an intervention by the Liberian Government and Ghana, comprising the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MDA), Liberia Immigration Service (LIS), and the LRRRC profiled the former refugee for their possible repatriation to Liberia.

The repatriation should have been done in 2023, but the past government of Liberia did not provide the needed funds for the repatriation exercise.

The LRRRC further reported that as a result of the current demolition exercise in Ghana, over 1,600 former Liberian refugees are now sheltering in schools’ buildings and other public facilities, and the situation is causing the Liberian families, especially the women and children hardship.
Moreover, the LRRRC said that they are working with various government ministries and the Legislature to ensure the situation is addressed with an intervention to repatriate Liberians who are currently undergoing such a devastating condition.

It can also be recalled that the Executive Director of the Liberia Returnee Network, Emmanuel Tyrone Marshall, on Thursday, February 28, 2024, called on the Government of President Joseph Nyuma Boakai to send a high-powered Liberian delegation immediately to Ghana to address the plights of the Liberian returnees there. In the wake of the current ongoing demolition process at the famous Buduburam Camp in Ghana, the President of Liberia Joseph Nyuma Boakai has called on affected Liberians to remain calm as the situation is being fully assessed and soon to be handled.

Expressing his concern over the situation Monday, March 4, 2024, the Liberian leader President called on the Ghanaian Government, through the Liberian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to intervene to ensure that Liberians living on the camp are safe, protected, and treated humanely.

In a special statement issued by the Executive Mansion, President Boakai noted that it is his understanding that the current activities taking place are under the auspices of the Gomoa-Fetteh Traditional Council, who are believed to be the owners of the land hosting the Buduburam Camp.

According to the statement, the President will receive guidance on the matter from the Minister of Foreign Affairs and line agencies as to the next steps to be taken.

The President’s statement comes in the midst of the current Demolition exercise at the Buduburam Camp which has caused more than a hundred Liberians residing in Ghana homeless.
According to reports, the demolition was conducted to make way for the construction of a market and to relocate street traders, facilitating the construction of a dual-carriage road.

Traditional leaders of Gomoa Fetteh, where Buduburam is located, explained that the exercise aimed to address concerns about the area being a hotspot for alleged armed robbery, drug addiction, and prostitution, claims which some Liberian residents have denied, insisting that they never received any prior notice of the eviction.

The victimized Liberian residents recounted waking up to the sound of excavators demolishing their houses, leaving many unable to salvage their belongings, noting the lack of communication, and that all their possessions were destroyed without warning.
The Buduburam Liberian Camp was previously scheduled for demolition in 2021 but was postponed after residents voiced concerns about being left homeless.

The Executive Secretary of the Ghana Refugee Board, Mr. Tetteh Padi, had visited the area in 2021 and indicated that renovations were planned for the refugee camp in the Western Region.

He assured residents that they would be relocated once suitable shelters were prepared. However, the demolition proceeded, leaving many residents without homes.

On October 4, 2021 following a meeting between the governments of Liberian and Ghana, there were some ways forward which led to the postponement of the first date set for the demolition process.

After the then intervention by the Liberian government, the Chairman of the Liberians living in Buduburam, Mr. Dennis Gwion, at the time, commended the Government of Liberia for their prompt intervention through the visit and excellent representation by then Liberia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr.

Mr. Gwion said his leadership has been seeking opportunities with the Government of Liberia, Government of Ghana, UNHCR and others partners in order to settle the long problematic condition Liberian Refugees are faced with in Ghana.

He said initially the Ghanaian government proposed two options to the Liberians living in the camp, which include: To return to Liberia or to integrate into Ghana society.

The head of the Liberians at the Refugee Camp then lamented that the Ghanaian authorities did not live up to some parts of the agreement presented to them, which is to easily integrate in Ghanaian society.

Mr. Gwion said they are not claiming any land in Ghana, but are asking the authorities to resettle them or allow them to integrate into the Ghanaian society without any hindrance.

It can be recalled that the Ghanaian authorities gave a deadline of September 30, 2021, for Liberians to vacate the Camp in Buduburam.

However, through the intervention of the Liberian government through former Foreign Minister Kemaya, a new deadline of December 1, 2021 was given to Liberians living in the Bududuram Camp.

Since the December 1, 2021 deadline date, Liberians have still been living in the camp and hoping that they could be integrated into the Ghanaian society, something which has now led to the current forceful move by the Traditional leaders of Gomoa Fetteh.

This situation has given birth to different views amongst Liberians, where some have expressed concern on why their fellow brothers and sisters (Liberians) are refusing to return to their Country especially since the war ended more than twenty (20) years ago, while others on the other hand hold the view that Liberia is still not a safe place for those Liberian refugees to return home pointing to the free movement of perpetuators of war crimes in the streets of Monrovia.

With the current intervention and concern raised by Liberia`s President Joseph Nyuma Boakai, many are hopeful that there is a need for this long-time problem to come to a logical conclusion with both governments finding a suitable way out so as to avoid any negative impact on the good relationship that both Liberia and Ghana have shared over the years. By Patrick Cooper & Linda Gbartie

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