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16.04.2007 Togo

UNHCR assists communities hosting Togolese refugees

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Thirteen communities hosting part of about 9,000 Togolese refugees currently living in the Volta region have had boreholes sunk for them by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to improve the water situation in those areas.

The communities include Ave-Hevi, Ave-Posmonu, Ketsi-Nkwanta, in the Akatsi District, Obuasi, Likpe-Bala, Gbledi-Gbogame, Wli-Agoviefe, Wli-Afegame, New Ayoma and Kute, all in the Hohoe District, which had two mechanized boreholes.

Ms Aida Haile Mariam, UNHCR Representative in Ghana, who commissioned the Ave-Hevi borehole on Friday at Ave-Hevi, said the boreholes cost a total of ยข600 million with funds from the British International Development Agency (DFID).

She hailed communities in the Volta region in particular and the country in general for being refugee friendly and said the environment gave the agency the encouragement to continue pursuing life saving assistance to communities hosting refugees.

"The commitment and selflessness with which the government and people of Ghana, particularly the Volta region received Togolese refugees became the brightest spot in the UNHCR's operations in Ghana," Ms Haile Mariam said.

"Hevi, where refugees felt safe, their lives improved and everyone is considered kin is a beautiful example," she said.

Ms Haile Mariam also gave credit to the Italian government for donating 258,000 US dollars for relief support, part of which was used in the boreholes project.

She said the UNHCR had an active repatriation programme for Liberian refugees in Ghana and announced that some of the Togolese refugees had also opted to return home voluntarily.

Togbe Agbalekpor III, Paramount Chief of Ave-Hevi said the influx of the refugees brought pressure on health, sanitation and accommodation facilities.

He said water for domestic use also became scarce particularly after the dam serving the area collapsed last year.

Togbe Agbalekpor appealed the DFID through the UNHCR to build a clinic and a place of convenience in the town to avoid a cholera outbreak, as the only facility serving the community had collapsed.

He appealed for the introduction of small loan scheme to assist the refugees in improving on their economic efforts to meet their financial commitments adequately.

Mr Ramondo Richard, Leader of the refugees mentioned rent demands by landlords and the lack of sanitation facilities as their main problem.

A total of 12,300 refugees are said to be currently resident in Ghana.

Source: GNA