We’ll Continue To Guarantee Safety, Dignity Of Refugees — Prof. Attafuah3 min read
He said refugees were also being encouraged to be self-reliant to enable them to contribute to national development.
Prof. Attafuah, who gave the assurance at an event to commemorate World Refugee Day in Accra yesterday, added that the country remained committed to ensuring “refugees do not only keep hope alive while they remain here, but also develop themselves to make meaningful contribution to communities they live in and the development of the country at large”.
The day is observed on June 20 every year to draw the attention of the world to the plight of refugees, causes of their flight and ways to address them and also take stock of the “state of asylum” for those seeking international protection.
The UNHCR has been given a twin mandate to support states to provide international protection and also seek durable solutions.
The event in Accra was marked with cultural performances and drama by some refugees in the country.
The nation is hosting more than 11,028 refugees from 30 countries, including Afghanistan.
Prof. Attafuah said the government had authorised the issuance of a version of the Ghana Card — non-citizen identity card — to refugees to ensure their inclusion in the socio-economic activities of the country.
“Over the past year we have made some noteworthy strides in refugee management. Working with the UNHCR and the Ivorian government, we have implemented durable solutions to more than 7,000 Ivorians who had been seeking refuge in the country for over a decade now,” he added.
Prof. Affafuah, who is also the Executive Secretary of the National Identification Authority, however, said that about 4,000 of the Ivorian refugees had been supported by the UNCHR and the Ivorian government to return home.
He said about 3,000 of the former Ivorian refugees opted to remain in “Ghana due to the fact that in their assessment, they had better socio-economic ties here, having lived in this country for over a decade in most instances.”
“These former refugees are being assisted to regularise their stay in the country by being issued with indefinite residence permits,” Prof. Attafuah added.
The Country Representative of the UNHCR, Esther Kiragu, said Ghana had a rich Pan Africanist tradition of hosting refugees.
He said the country had a policy of inclusion and integration that allowed children of refugees to have access to free education up to the junior high school level and the national health insurance, among other benefits.
The Executive Director of the GRB, Tetteh Padi, said although the country currently had a total of 11,028 registered refugees and asylum seekers, the figure was likely to go up to 18,000 in the next few weeks because there was an ongoing registration of asylum seekers from Burkina Faso.
“I would like to seize this opportunity to announce that the Refugee Board is in the process to operationalise the Refugee Fund as prescribed in the Refugee Law. The yield from this fund will go solely to support refugees and help them become self-reliant.
“I can assure you that the fund will be managed efficiently and used for the purpose that it was set up for, so please dig deep and support the persons we serve,” he said.
The UN Resident Coordinator to Ghana, Charles Abani, expressed appreciation to the country for its effort in hosting refugees over the years.