MORE than 500 civilians from Togo have sought refuge in Ghana in the wake of the political unrest in their country.
The West African country is experiencing anti-government protests demanding the resignation of President Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé, who has been in power since controversial elections in 2005. He succeeded his father who died earlier in the year. So far, Ghanaian authorities have registered 513 asylum-seekers who have arrived in remote northwestern regions including Bunkprugu-Yunyou, Chereponi and Zabzugu. Consisting mainly of women and children, they have had fled on foot, walking from their homes in Togo's Mango region, bordering Ghana. The majority of them are being hosted by local families and some in community centres. A joint mission by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Ghana Refugee Board is currently on its way to assess the situation in these remote areas. UNHCR spokesperson, Babar Baloch, said the agency was continuing to monitor the situation and was working on a response plan in case of an increase of arrivals, including the prepositioning of relief items. He disclosed there were also reports of nearly 30 recently arriving asylum-seekers in northern Benin. "It is not yet clear if this is related to the current situation in Togo, while there are no reports of refugee/asylum-seekers arriving in Burkina Faso so far," Baloch said. He said UNHCR was working with the authorities in Benin and Burkina Faso on emergency preparedness, including the development of contingency plans, in case of refugee influx in these countries.