Regional News of Thursday, 15 November 2012

Source: Mohammed Saani Ibrahim-The Accra Times

2nd Trapitite Commission Meeting On Ivorain Refugees Held

The 2nd Tripartite Commission Meeting between Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire and the UNHCR has taken place in Accra on Tuesday.

The Meeting, which is a follow up to the earlier one held in Abidjan in June 2012, is aimed at ensuring smooth voluntary return of all Ivorian refugees resident in Ghana .

In his welcome address, Ghana’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ambassador Chris Kpodo, reiterated Ghana’s commitment to engage all stakeholders so as to make meaningful contributions to enhance the peace, stability and security of its West African neighbor.

He further reiterated President Mahama’s position that Ghana will not tolerate the use of its territory for any activities aimed at destabilizing the Ivory Coast by Ivorian refugees or any other person of group. He announced that efforts are being made by Ghanaian officials to receive a delegation from the International Criminal Court[ICC] which is collaborating with Ghana to ensure a successful trial of those presumed guilty of criminal acts during the Ivorian post election crisis.

To ensure significant progress in this matter, the Deputy Minister indicated that the hosting of a platform for discussions on the subject of extradition request from Cote D’Ivoire by the UNHCR in Geneva may be useful due to differences in the approaches of the two countries on matters of jurisprudence and due process.

He expects the Meeting to receive adequate briefing on the execution of tasks and development that have occurred so far in the area of their mandate. ‘’ The briefings and discussions should help us devise new strategies that will help enhance the peace, security and stability of Cote D’Ivoire and to also give confidence to Ivorian refugees here to return home to contribute towards the nations development’’.

Hon. Chris Kpodo was optimistic they would be able to devise ingenious methods to encourage the international community to enhance its contributions towards the management of Ivorian refugee’s problems, particularly their nutritional and health needs. On his part, the Ivorian Ambassador to Ghana, H.E Daniel Kablan Duncan said, the two Meetings have given both nations the opportunity to underline their long standing understandings and cooperation. The Meeting is within the framework of the Tripartite Agreement signed last year between Ghana and the Ivory Coast. He also thanked the UNHCR for their cooperation and repeated effort to ensure the successful repatriation of the Ivorian Refugees resident in Ghana. The vision of the Ivorian President Alhassan Ouatarra to assist returnee Ivoirians who fled the post election conflict to neighboring nations has not shifted. ‘’ Come back to your motherland in order to immensely contribute to new Cote D’Ivoire being built towards stability’’.

Effective actions are being implemented by the Authorities back home to create an enabling and safer environment for the people. As part of the reforms being implemented are dialogue with opposition parties and reforms in the security sector aimed at mobilizing ex-military personnel.

The nation is rapidly making progress to regain stability and as such needs all its sons and daughters to help build a stronger, stable and democratic country. He said the objective of the Alassan Ouatarra Government is to make the Ivory Coast an emerging nation by the year 2020.

UNHCR Ghana Representative, Miss Sharon J. Cooper on her part expressed her outfit’s commitment and continues support to ensure the smooth and successful return of the refuges to their country.

The Commission is working in close collaboration with UNHCR-Togo and Government of Ghana to voluntarily repatriate Ivorian refuges in Togo through Ghana. She added that they will soon develop activities to ensure accurate information sharing to help the refugees.

The next Meeting of the Commission will be held in April 2013 in the Ivorian Capital of Yomosoukrou.