About 7,000 Ivorian refugees in the country are in line to receive alternative legal status by 2022.
This follows the commencement of processes for the invocation of Ceased Clause to Ivorian refugees who fled the country, due to violence between 2010 and 2011 by countries hosting Ivorian refugees, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
At an inauguration ceremony of the Governing Council of the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB) in Accra yesterday, Minister of the Interior, Ambrose Dery, urged the members to ensure that Ghana follows the adopted roadmap for the exercise to be able to meets all the timelines set for effective transition process.
He asked the Council to ensure that the GRB applied the lessons learnt from the implementation of Cessation for Liberians, to avoid having a situation like what pertains at GomoaBuduburam Refugee Camp.
“It is critical that the transition takes place fully. We must not end up with a refugee-like situation where persons who have for instance been locally integrated, continue to enjoy free accommodation and other services unavailable to Ghanaian nationals living in surrounding communities,” Mr Dery added.
The Council has Professor Kenneth Attafuah as its Chairman with TettehPadi, GRB; Pat Danso-Abeam, representative of the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice, Senalor K. Yawlui, representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Divine Ayidzoe of the Ministry of Education as other members.
The rest are Assistant Commissioner of Immigration (ACI) Samuel BasintaleAmadu, Ghana Immigration Service; Anthony Ayensu-Asare, National Intelligence Bureau and Georgina Mensah, Department of Social Welfare.
Others include Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Phyllis AmaTebuahOsei, Ghana Police Service; Doreen P. Annan, Ministry of the Interior and Kofi Osei, representative of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO).
The Minister charged the Council to find a solution for about 3,500 Togolese refugees in a protracted situation resident in the country.
The main challenges faced by these refugees, he said, was their inability to access Togolese nationality documents required for their transition from refuge to an alternative legal status.
“I expect that a tripartite meeting with the Togolese authorities and UNHCR will be convened in the shortest possible time, to address this lingering matter,” Mr Dery stated.
He asked the Council to ensure that the proposed Bill for a reviewed Ghana Refugee Law was taken through the various stages and passed into Law within the shortest possible time.
The Council, the Minister said, would do well to address the accommodation challenge saddling the GRB and reiterated government’s commitment to retool the Board to be able to live up to its mandate.
On behalf of the Council, Prof Attafuah expressed gratitude to the government for the opportunity and pledged to work for a better refugee management exercise.
He said the Council would work assiduously to complete the outstanding refugee status which came to a halt due to the absence of a Board.
He asked the Ministry to offer its support to get the Refugee Commission Bill passed, saying that “lives are dependent on us and we will not disappoint.”
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS