18 December 2017

Liberia: Homeless Liberians Protest in Accra

Hundreds of Liberians have been protesting before the offices of the United Nations Refugee Agency in Accra, Ghana after what they have known as homes were demolished.

But authorities at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Ghana say the refugee agency does not recognize the presence of any Liberian refugee in that country, the Ghana's City FM reports.

An Associated officer of the UNHCR in Accra, Edmund Kwofie, was quoted by the local station as saying "the UNHCR does not recognize the presence of Liberian refugees in Ghana".

According to him, they are "are not persons of concern to UNHCR," since the conditions that allowed them to stay in the country have changed. He said "In 2012, the UNHCR decided that there was no longer the need for Liberians to stay in the country as refugees because the circumstances that led to their immigration as refugees have changed."

Mr. Kwofie's comments come after some Liberians on Friday picketed at the premises of the UNHCR, demanding that they be given some relief packages and relocated to different countries following a demolition exercise at the Budumburam camp in the Central Region, where they previously lived.

The demolition, which left many of them displaced, was carried out by the Gomoa Chiefs of the Central Region, on whose land the camp was built after an agreement between them and the government to host the Liberians there during the civil war in Liberia.

Several years after peace was restored in Liberia, the Liberians continue to live in the camp with some integrated through marriage to Ghanaians. The residents however recently received a letter from the government directing them to leave the camp. They lamented that they have been rendered homeless and have nowhere else to stay.

The Liberians have since been relocated to the Cantonments District Police Command, but insist they want to be resettled in countries such as Canada and the United States since their home country is still not safe for them.

But Mr. Kwofie said "... they are not entitled to any resettlement. In 2015, they were given the opportunity to appeal to government to be resettled, but many did not meet the criteria. Only 350 people were accepted. The rest were rejected. And those people are those who were picketing outside our office... The best we can do for them is to speak with the Liberian Embassy and inquire from them what we should do with their people."

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