Displaced Burkinabes return home from Ghana

 The number of Burkinabes who fled their country to seek asylum in Ghana has reduced from more than 4,000 to 1,000, following their gradual and voluntary return to their home country.

Some of them are shuffling between their home countries and communities in the Upper East and Upper West of Ghana, where they have lived since coups and terrorist attacks in their country displaced them.

The respective Regional Min­isters, Stephen Yakubu and Dr Hafiz Bin Salih, made this known yesterday when they gave updates of the humanitarian situation at a high-level consultative dialogue in Accra.

Organised by the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency together with the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB), the dialogue was to take stock of the Burkinabe asylum seeker situa­tion, including gaps and challenges.

Attended by institutions like the National Disaster Management Organisation, Social Welfare and Security Agencies, the participants would produce a contingency plan to address the situation going forward.

About the situation in Upper East, Dr Salih said on December 5, last year, the Chetu community in the Lambussie and Sissala West districts received a total of 3,148 displaced people, 222 Ghanaian Nationals who had settled in Burki­na Faso.

Although the departure of majority of the asylum seekers had restored calm, Dr Salih said concerns in the Sissala area was the pressure on social amenities and fear of terrorist groups infiltrating the region’s territories.

“There is a possibility of the return of people of concern if the situation in Burkina Faso persists,” he said.

In the Upper East, Dr Yakubu said, the region hosted 6, 6620 Burkinabes, but many have left leaving 1,064. He called on the GRB to grant them refugee status to enable them access more bene­fits from Ghana.

The Minister for The Interi­or, Ambrose Dery, in a speech reach on his behalf by the Chief Director of the Ministry, Adelaide Annor-Kumi, said the GRB had registered about 1,000 of the asy­lum seekers.

He urged the Refugee Board and UNHCR to ensure that appro­priate interventions are made for the Burkinabe to ameliorate the situation of their Ghanaian hosts and maintain harmony between the two groups of people.

He urged stakeholders ensure that extremists do not infiltrate the asylum system to threaten national security while interventions should be well coordinated to avoid dupli­cation of efforts.

The Board Chair of the GRB, Prof. Ken Attafuah, called for cooperation between national and international agencies on the situ­ation by finding a balance between the sovereign interests of Ghana and the fundamental human rights of the asylum seekers and refugees.

The UNHCR Country Rep­resentative, Esther Kiragu, said as the situation in Burkina Faso, where there are about 1.8 million internally displaced people, is wors­ening, there was the possibility that more people would seek asylum in Ghana.

Commending Ghana for her hospitality, she said, more needed to be done since hosting refugees was an obligation of the country due to international conventions and domestic laws.

The UN Resident Coordinator, Charles Abani, said the UN would support efforts to manage the humanitarian situation.


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