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General News of Sunday, 22 June 2014

Source: GNA

20,809 refugees live in Ghana - UNHCR

There are 20,809 refugees living in Ghana- UNHCR

Ms Chansa Kapaya, UNHCR Representative in Ghana on Friday indicated that there were 20,803 refugees living in Ghana as at the end of May 2014.

She said 18,709 were refugees from 20 countries with the overall majority from ECOWAS countries, while the other 2,094 were asylum seekers.

Speaking during the celebration of this year’s World Refugee Day in Accra, she said statistics from the UNHCR annual global trends report also indicated that the number of refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced people worldwide had for the first time in the post-world War 11 era, exceeded 50 million people.

“According to the report, 51.2 million people were forcibly displayed at the end of 2013, fully six million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012," she said.

Ms Kapaya attributed the increase to mainly the war in Syria, which at the end of last year had forced 2.5 million people into becoming refugees and made 6.5 million internally displaced.

She said major new displacements were also recorded in Africa, notably in the Central African Republic and South Sudan.

UNHCR Representative in Ghana expressed her appreciation to Ghana for living up to her international obligations by accepting refugees and asylum seekers since the early 1990s with the influx of over 40,000 Liberian refugees.

Ms Kapaya said the UNHCR had not only been working to provide humanitarian assistance and protection to refuges and asylum seekers in Ghana, but had also been actively pursuing durable solutions that would enable them rebuild their lives in dignity by giving them skills training, business support among others.

Ms Susan Ngongi, UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, said the World Refugee Day had been celebrated since 2001 to honour the spirit, courage, resilience, strength and determination of people who had been forced to flee their homeland under the threat of persecution and violence.

She said the Day is to bring back human face behind the numbers, statistics and figures to raise awareness, compassion and understanding about individuals and families whose lives had been torn apart because of war, insecurity or human abuses.

Ms Susan Ngongi added that the Day would also be used to recognise the harrowing experiences of refugees and also to recognise their dreams, ambitions and aspirations.

Mr James Agalga, Deputy Minister for the Interior, said Government had approved a local integration policy for refugees under which about 4,000 Liberian refugees had been granted stay in Ghana and to take advantage of opportunities in the country for their personal development.

He said Ghana stood out as one for the few countries in the world that had started issuing Convention Travel Document to refugees who qualify and show the need to travel.

He appealed to refugees and asylum seekers in the country to reciprocate Ghana’s kind gesture by being law abiding and focus on opportunities available to them.

The theme for this year’s celebration was “One Refugee Family Torn Apart by War is Too Many”.

The occasion was also used to present unspecified number of Liberian passports to refugees who opted for local integration.