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28.10.2008 General News

Ghana and Liberia sign pact on voluntary repatriation of Liberians

By gna

Ghana and Liberia on Tuesday committed themselves to continue to support the organised voluntary repatriation of Liberian refugees from Ghana to Liberia until March, 31, 2009.

They have also agreed to conduct a verification exercise in mid-January 2009 to ascertain the number of Liberian refugees in Ghana, determine those with Ghanaian family links, update their profile, as well as determine refugees' intentions to either return to Liberia or remain in Ghana.

These were contained in communiqué signed by the Interior Ministers of both countries – Dr Kwame Addo-Kufuor of Ghana and Mr Ambulei Johnson Jr. of Liberia.

It was the outcome a Third meeting of the Tripartite Committee for the voluntary repatriation of Liberian refugees in Ghana.

The communiqué also recommended that the Tripartite Committee actively pursued identifying a seaworthy vessel to use in the addition to already existing modes of transport refugees' belonging home.

It also recommended that the Liberian Government continued to make efforts towards creating an enabling environment to receive returnees, through development initiatives like poverty reduction strategies.

The Government of Ghana and the UNHCR have also been tasked to conduct information campaigns to inform the refugees opting to remain in Ghana of processes and procedures.

The agreement also stipulates that the status of refugees opting to stay in the country would be in accordance with national and regional instruments in force in Ghana.

Dr. Addo-Kufuor emphasised that any Liberian who chose to stay in Ghana was welcome but that they would be relocated to other parts of the country.

He said that, it was not the intention of government to "push Liberians out of the country" but rather to pave way for Buduburam - the refugee camp close to Accra, with its attendant security implications, to become an ordinary Ghanaian town.

"Those who stay and settle in other parts of the country will be treated as first class citizens," he said.

Mr Johnson Jr. thanked the Ghana's government and the UNHCR for the assistance offered Liberians during and after their crisis, adding that they were fully committed to ensuring the return of their people to rebuild their nation.