Refugees to go home in June

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Ghana and Liberia have reached an agreement under which the repatriation of Liberian refugees in Ghana would begin in June.

The agreement was reached at a meeting between the two sides in Accra on Thursday, Deputy Information Minister, Mr. Frank Agyekum said.

He added that the government of Ghana had wanted the repatriation exercise to begin next month.

Mr. Agyekum said the two countries agreed to set up a tripartite committee comprising the two governments and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to oversee the repatriation exercise.

A high-level Liberian delegation led by foreign minister Olubanke King-Akirele has been in Ghana since the beginning of the week after a stand-off between the refugees at Gomoa Buduburam and the government escalated into the evacuation of more than 600 of them, mainly women and children, to a leadership training centre in the Eastern region.

Ghana also deported 16 men who had been identified as ring leaders last Saturday and was scheduled to deport more on Sunday and Monday when the UNHCR urged the government to stop further deportations.

Mr Agyekum said the refugees at Kordiabe would be sent back to the Gomoa Budubur am camp, just west of Accra, after they had pledged to be of good behaviour.

The stand-off began when the refugees protesting against their reintegration int o the Ghanaian society caused a disruption of activities at the camp. They stopped children from going to school and relief items from being distributed, among other things.

They were also demanding a $1,000 reparation fee from the UNHCR instead of $100 paid now and resettlement in the US.

The Liberian government officially apologised for the conduct of the refugees who have been in Ghana for 18 years and appealed for reconsideration of the repatriation decision.

President John Agyekum Kufuor defended the government’s handling of the stand-off and said the situation that warranted their stay in Ghana – the civil war – had ended and there was no justification for them to claim refugee status. Panapress.

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