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GHANA-LIBERIA: Cessation clause invoked over refugee demos

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  • RE Ausetkmt
    ... Subject: GHANA-LIBERIA: Cessation clause invoked over refugee demos Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008 21:07:20 -0000 From: IRIN
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 22, 2008
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      -------- Original Message --------
      Subject: GHANA-LIBERIA: Cessation clause invoked over refugee demos
      Date: Thu, 20 Mar 2008 21:07:20 -0000
      From: IRIN <no-reply@...>
      To: RE Ausetkmt <ausetkmt@...>

      GHANA-LIBERIA: Cessation clause invoked over refugee demos

      ACCRA/DAKAR, 20 March 2008 (IRIN) - Ghana's government has invoked a
      clause of the 1951 Refugee Convention to force the UN Refugee Agency
      (UNHCR) to close operations for 26,000 Liberians in Ghana.

      The move came after the Ministry of the Interior arrested 630 Liberians
      on 17 March, mostly female and child refugees, for holding a one-month
      protest which aid officials said obstructed food distributions in the
      Buduburam camp. UNHCR staff had reportedly been threatened by the

      The protest started on 19 February with refugees delivering a petition
      to UNHCR and the Ghana Refugee Board saying they "strongly oppose"
      integration into Ghanaian society. The petition called for resettlement
      to a third country, or US$1,000 per person to help them return to
      Liberia - ten times the US$100 UNHCR was offering.

      According to a statement from Ghana's Ministry of the Interior
      statement, the refugees' refusal to be integrated into Ghanaian society
      after some of them had spent 18 years in the country was "very insulting".

      Ghanaian Minister of the Interior Kwamena Bartels said in the statement
      that the arrested Liberians, who are currently being held at a youth
      centre close to the refugee camp, would be stripped of their refugee
      status and forcibly deported to Liberia by the end of the week.

      "The government will not countenance such unruly behaviour by refugees
      who have been given protection and hospitality in the country for 18
      years," the Interior Ministry's statement said.

      The government invoked a clause in the 1951 Refugee Convention which
      states that when conditions have improved in a refugees' country of
      origin then the host government is no longer obliged to host them.

      UNHCR said it is still hoping the government will relent. "We are trying
      to say that maybe these 630 people committed unlawful acts [should] be
      prosecuted, but they should be differentiated from the other 25,000
      refugees who have behaved properly without creating problems," UNHCR
      spokesperson Cecille Pouilly told IRIN, adding that UNHCR had ruled out
      paying the refugees more than the US$100 offered.

      A human rights group in Ghana has warned the government that it may be
      violating refugee law by having arrested the 630 demonstrators in the
      first place. "If they have broken the laws of Ghana then it's only the
      courts that can sanction them and not the interior ministry," said
      Edward Amuzu, the director of the Legal Resources Centre, a local
      non-governmental legal advocacy group.

      Liberia's government announced it is sending a high-level delegation on
      a five-day mission to Ghana.

      A total of 42,034 Liberians were registered in Ghana in 2004, one year
      after the end of the 1989-2003 civil war in Liberia, according to UNHCR.
      Some 70 percent are from Liberia's Montserrado County, with the
      remainder mainly from Bong County, according to UNHCR.

      Both counties have been declared safe by the Liberian government using
      indicators such as the level of social and economic infrastructure and
      the number of spontaneous returnees.

      More than 850,000 Liberians fled the country during the brutal civil
      war. Some 100,000 have already been repatriated by UNHCR from around the
      West African region.


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