The Tripartite Committee made up of representatives of the Governments of Ghana and Liberia and the Office of United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to oversee the repatriation of Liberian refugees in Ghana has agreed that voluntary repatriation remains the preferred option for Liberians in Ghana.
Subsequently, the repatriation exercise should be carried out within a six-month period commencing April 16, 2008, according to a joint statement signed by the three parties last Wednesday said.
The statement signed by Mr Kwamina Bartels, Minister for Interior, Ms Estelle K. Liberty, Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs of Liberia and Ms Marjon Kamara, Director of the Africa Bureau of the UNHCR, said the issues relating to the repatriation and invocation of the cessation clause in respect of the refugees were discussed.
The statement said the meeting agreed that a technical working group be established to commence work on April 17, 2008 to operationalise the decisions of the Committee.
The statement also said the Committee would develop and implement a common comprehensive communication strategy which incorporated information on available reintegration assistance.
The Committee would meet bi-monthly to monitor the progress of the repatriation exercise and the first such meeting would take place in May in Ghana and the subsequent meeting in Liberia in July.
The statement said the meeting reaffirmed the decision of the governments of Ghana and Liberia to disperse the Buduburam refugees into smaller communities for better management and monitoring.
The meeting was chaired by Mr Kwamina Bartels, Minister for the Interior, and head of the Ghanaian delegation which comprised Nana Obiri Boahen, Minister of State at the Ministry of the Interior, Mr Frank Agyekum, Deputy Minister for Information and National Orientation, Mrs Elizabeth Adjei, Director of Ghana Immigration Service as well as representatives of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior and the Bureau of National Investigations.
The Liberian delegation was led by Ms Estelle K. Liberty, Deputy Minister for Internal Affairs and included Wheatonia Dixon Barnes, Executive Director of the Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission, Abla Gadegbeku Williams, Deputy Commissioner of the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalisation and Justice and Mr Rudolf Von Ballmoos, Liberian Ambassador in Ghana.
The UNHCR delegation was led by Ms Marjon Kamara, Director for the Africa Bureau at Geneva, and includes Ms Aida Haile Maraim and Ms Renata Dubini representatives of UNHCR for Ghana and Liberia respectively.