Police storm refugee camp a second time

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Police on Saturday made their second swoop on the Liberia refugee camp just west of Accra in one week as the government carries out its resolve to ensure that the refugees obey Ghana’s laws.

This time they arrested dozens of men who they say have been fomenting trouble at the camp, as the standoff between the refugees and the government continues.

Eyewitnesses said police went to the Gomoa Buduburam refugee camp just west of Accra at dawn on Saturday moving from house-to-house seeking the alleged male troublemakers. Many men fled into the bush while other locked themselves up in their rooms.

The government has confirmed the police swoop and said those arrested had not been registered as refugees in Ghana.

Deputy Information Minister, Frank Agyekum, speaking on a radio programme in Accra said the 35 arrested Liberians who were not registered as refugees were part of a group fomenting trouble in the Camp.

He said these men had no legal basis to be in Ghana as refugees and would be repatriated to Liberia.

Interior Minister, Kwamena Bartels also confirmed the arrests and said even the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) did not recognise them as refugees because they were not registered as such.

Bartels has warned that the Liberians should “not overstretch the goodwill and protection the government and people of Ghana had accorded them over the past 18 years when they fled their country during a bloody civil war”.

Meanwhile, a number of Liberian refugees who were removed from the refugee camp last Monday following weeks of illegal demonstrations were brought back to the camp on Friday night after screening.

Government sources have not said why the protestors, mainly women and children, were returned and what would happen to the rest of them being kept at a youth centre in the Eastern Region.

Some of them have apologized and said they would not continue the protest but would live in peace when they were released.

The Liberians were rounded up last Monday for failing to call off a protest the government said was illegal.

They had been demanding a reparation fee of $1,000 instead of $100 given to them by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and resettlement in the US or any Western country.

The Liberian government has apologized for the action of the refugees and would send an official delegation next Wednesday to assess the situation.

A government on Thursday said some 45 Liberian refugees who illegally found their way into the Gomoa Buduburam refugee camp would be repatriated by Friday.

The 45 are part of 659 refugees rounded up by security forces last Monday for fuelling agitations at the camp.

Human rights groups have threatened to sue the Ghana government if it failed to resort to the courts in dealing their repatriation.

The Coalition of Human Rights Organizations described as “over reaction” government’s handling of the protests of the refugees and said only a court of competent jurisdiction could determine whether the refugees should be repatriated. Panapress.

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