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No More Liberian Refugees After June 30   
 
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14-Dec-2011  
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The International Community has fixed June 30th next year to end Liberian refugees who fled their country because of the war. “After the deadline, refugees status would cease to be recognised and there would not be Liberian refugees anymore".

Mr Padi Tetteh, Programme Coordinator of Ghana Refugee Board, who announced this in Accra on Wednesday encouraged the over 11,000 Liberian Refugee in Ghana to voluntarily repatriate before the cessation.

Mr Tetteh was a facilitator at a day’s training workshop on Cessation of Liberian Refugee Situation, organised by the United Nations Human Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) for 20 journalists drawn from media houses to serve as focal persons on Cessation and Rights-Based Reporting.

He said "Over 11,000 refugees should return home and not fear because Liberia is now peaceful, stable and developing in many ways".

Topics treated were: "Asylum Laws and Convention: What do they mean for Ghana?" "The 1951 and OAU Conventions" "The Ghana Refugee Law, Overview of Ghana’s Refugee Situation", "Asylum Demographic and Operational Direction", "Cessation of Liberian Refugee Situation Legalities and Durable Solutions Options" and "Mass Information Strategy the Importance of Effective Reporting".

Mr Tetteh said "We have only six months for local integration to take place and if refugees apply for exemption it would bring a huge logistical problem therefore, the only option is voluntary repatriation".

He noted that Buduburam Camp was not suitable to be used as permanent place of living because with the increase in population the people had put up many illegal, unauthorised and weak structures creating slums which hindered road access.

“We are proposing that the land be returned to its original owners emphasizing that no refugee status is permanent, it has to come to an end and there is likelihood the camp would be close down,” he added.

Mr Tetteh said it was important that Liberians, who would remain in the country, were documented and supported but not dumped on any community, adding government should offer assistance to any local community that accept them.

Ms Awurabena Hutchful, Assistant Public Information Officer of UNHCR, who took participants through some of the topics, advised them to understand the refugee situation in the country to ensure better reportage. She said some of the issues were highly sensitive, therefore, the reports should be devoid of misinformation since conflicts in Africa were often associated with violence and mass rape.

Ms Hutchful said over the years, UNHCR had assisted refugees in the country with skills training as well as formal education and explained that some of the challenges they faced were funding and limited scholarships to the Senior High School level after which most refugees dropped out of school.

She said between 2008 and 2010, UNHCR built four basic primary schools for the Ghana Education Service and provided stations and accommodation facilities to Ghana Police Service and Ghana National Fire Service at Buduburam.
 
 
Source: GNA
 
 

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