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General News of Friday, 28 March 2008

Source: GNA

Govt signs joint communique on repatriation of refugees

Accra, March 28, GNA - The government of Ghana and its Liberian counterpart on Friday signed a joint Communiqu=E9 on the repatriation of Liberian refugees in Ghana.

The latest joint communiqu=E9 was arrived at following healthy consultations between Ghanaian and Liberian delegations from March 25 - 28, 2008, following the disturbances at the Buduburam Refugee Settlement, and the detention of a number of Liberian refugees by the security agencies for breaching the Public Order Acts of Ghana. Nana Obiri Boahen, Minister of State of the Interior initialled for Ghana, while Madam Olubanke King-Akereke, Liberian Foreign Minister and leader of the delegation signed for her country.

Mr Boahen, speaking at the ceremony noted that the two sides agreed to form a Tripartite Committee (TC) made up of representatives of the governments of Ghana and Liberia, and the UNHCR to oversee the implementation of decisions reached on the repatriation of Liberian refugees in Ghana as well as on the handling and monitoring of the refugee situation. He said those refugees who have registered to return voluntarily under the UNHCR Programme prior to the crisis would be encouraged to do so, adding that, the repatriation would be phased out in consultation with the UNHCR and the two governments and there would be bi-monthly reviews of the exercise within the framework of the mandate of the TC. Mr. Boahen stated that, in the meantime refugees at the Buduburam Settlement would be dispersed for better management and monitoring in consonance with the mandate of the TC and those currently at Kordiabe camp would be returned to the Buduburam Settlement and be subjected to good behaviour and respect for local laws.

He also said the discussions throughout the four-day period centred on the repatriation of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) registered refugees back to Liberian, the demand of the refugees to be repatriated to third countries instead of Liberia as well as the refusal of the refugees to be integrated into Ghanaian society. He said the role of UNHCR in the repatriation exercise and the request of the Liberian delegation for the return of refugees who had been relocated to a separate camp in the wake of the crisis to Buduburam were also considered.

Madam Olubanke King-Akerele commended the government delegation for the open and frank discussions between the two sides and the friendly atmosphere in which it was held. She said most of the refugees who took part in the disturbances had regretted their actions and promised to bee of good behaviour. The Liberian delegation was led by the Foreign Minister, Madam Olubanke King-Akerele and included Mr Philips A.Z. Banks III, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mr Ambulai Johnson, Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr Gabriel Williams, Deputy Minister of Information and Mr Rudolf P. Von Ballmoos, Liberian Ambassador to Ghana. They arrived in Accra on Monday, March 24, 2008 to consult with the appropriate authorities on the situation.

The Ghanaian delegation was led by Mr Kwamina Bartels, Minister of the Interior and included Mr Joe Ghartey, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Dr Sam Amoo Ghartey, National Security Coordinator, Nana Obiri Boahen, Minister of State for the Interior, Dr. Bempong Yeboah, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Major-General (rtd) F. Adu -Amanfo, Ghana's Ambassador to Liberia and Mr Frank Agyekum, Deputy Minister for Information.