11 January 2013

Ghana: 240 Fulani Refugees Still At Sapeliga

For fear of possible attacks on them, 240 Fulani refugees, who entered into the Sapeliga community of the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region, have refused to be repatriated to their home country, Burkina Faso.

It would be recalled that some Fulanis from neighbouring Burkina Faso, last two weeks, took refuge at Sapeliga after a misunderstanding between Fulanis and Busangas in Barigunse led to the death of nine people. Other affected communities were Yorikor and Zaabire, all in the Central East Province of Burkina Faso.

Speaking to The Chronicle last week, the Bawku West District Police Commander, ASP James Dogbatse, said 327 of the refugees were repatriated, while 33 went home voluntarily, leaving a total of 240, who said they were not sure of their safety at home.

According to the Police Commander, the Ghanaian authorities in the area could not also use force tom repatriate the refugees, since they had not committed any crime.

ASP Dogbatse said per the Geneva Convention on the rights of refugees, unless otherwise established that they had committed crimes, no host country of refugees could use force to repatriate them.

However, the traditional authorities in the Sapeliga community are not enthused about this convention, and therefore, want the Fulanis out of the community.

An elder of Sapeliga, Abdallah Ayeltoya, told The Chronicle that Fulanis everywhere were noted for rising large numbers of cattle, which had led to serious misunderstandings between them and some farmers whose crops have been destroyed by these animals.

According to him, they were only trying to avoid a situation where the Fulanis would possibly settle in their area and bring in their cattle, only to start having problems with the farmers. He was quick to add that the fact that they and the Fulanis had been trading together, and had nothing against them, but feared for their crops.

He appealed to the District Assembly to liaise with the Burkinabe authorities to persuade the refugees return home to avoid any possible misunderstanding that may ensue between the locals and the Fulani.

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