By Joseph N.N.Swen, Accra
Liberians in Ghana are expressing frustration over the slow pace of the ongoing repatriation and are calling on the UNHCR-Ghana to improve the exercise since the ultimatum is imminent.
According to them, the process which involves Registration, Counseling, Vaccination, Confirmation and Weighing of Luggage before Departure, has a lengthy and delaying interval among each of the phases.
A huge number of Refugees disclosed that they have completed all the phases since the commencement of the Process (April 2008) but are yet to be repatriated and their continual visit at the Center for clarity continues to prove futile.
Another concern raised is that though the UNHCR has increased the amount from $ (USD) 5.00 to $50.00 per refugee and $100.00 per head respectively, the kilogram of belongings to take along, remains at 50kg and is restricted to just clothing which is very unbearable because their other belongings having spent about 17 years in Ghana and items such as mattresses, household furniture, cooking utensils which are greatly needed to begin life with in Liberia, are to be left behind.
A 60 –year- old mother of seven children including grandchildren, Sarah Gaye, said, “We want to go but these people are delaying us so they can make more money out of us”.
In their recent Report, the UNHCR-Ghana reported that they have repatriated up to 3,000 Liberian Refugees to Liberia from April to July, this year and that about 2,000, of the 21,000 UNHCR-Cardholding Liberian refugees currently in Ghana, are being process through the verification exercise.
According to the same report, the deadline for registration has been shifted from June 30 to October 2008 and will locally integrate those who might not take advantage of the ongoing Exercise.
The apparent massive repatriation process is predicated on the order given to the Refugees by the sacked Interior Minister of Ghana as a result of the five (5) week peaceful demonstration held by a conglomeration of Liberian Refugee Women Groups at the Settlement from February 19, March 25, 2008, petitioning the UNHCR-Ghana for the concern of all Liberian Refugees in Ghana, such as a possible resettlement into a third Country of Asylum or an improved package for repatriation but strongly kicked against the envisaged local integration option.