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18.06.2003 General News

Liberia Returnees Berth at Sekondi

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More than 1,300 Ghanaians and Liberians arrived at the Sekondi Naval base at 0700 hours on Tuesday abroad a Ghana Navy Ship, GNS Bonsu.

The returnees, who looked tired and dirty, were said to have rushed into the ship to escape from the fighting in Liberia.

Commander George Kofi Anim, Captain of the Ship, said most of those on board were Ghanaians and some Liberians, who lived close to the Monrovia Port.

He said more than 2,000 Ghanaians, who were anxious to return home have occupied the Ghana Embassy in Liberia.

Captain Anim said food and other basic amenities were very scarce in Liberia adding that he had to buy a bag of rice for 45 dollars to supplement their ration.

He hinted that GNS Anzone, another Ghana Navy ship, was on its way to Monrovia to evacuate all stranded Ghanaians.

Receiving the returnees, the Western Regional Minister, Mr Joseph B Aidoo advised them to use their skills and work experience in Liberia to develop themselves in the country.

He urged them to work with their hands and avoid engaging in anti-social acts adding: "Home is home."

Mr Aidoo told them: "You used your strength to develop Liberia and it is time to use such strength to develop Ghana."

In a related development a baby girl delivered aboard the ship on June 14, was presented to Mr Aidoo. She have been named Ama Bonsu after the ship by Captain Anim.

Sergeant Andrew Himah, a nurse who delivered the baby, said the mother, Cecilia Mensah was nine months' pregnant when she boarded the ship and that special attention was given to her to ensure her safe delivery.

Mr Padmore K Nyankopa-Arthur, Western Regional Coordinator for National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), said buses have been hired to convey all the returnees to the Esipon Reception Centre, near Sekondi, for screening, documentation and onward transfer to their various hometowns.

Mr Nyankopa-Arthur said all the Ghanaians were likely to reach their destination by the close of work on Tuesday, while the Liberians and other nationals would be assisted by the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) to either go to the Budumburam or Krisan refugees' camps.

He said the World Food Programme (WFP) had made large quantities high-energy biscuits available to revitalize the refugees.

The Ministry of Health, Ghana Red Cross, NADMO, Ghana Immigration Service and the Navy are working together to provide the needs of the returnees.

Brigadier Joseph Odei, National Coordinator of NADMO attended the ceremony.

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