This year the newly established Veteran Child Soldiers Association of Liberia takes part in the celebration of the World Refugee Day organized by the Liberian Welfare Council in the Buduburam refugee settlement in Ghana. The celebration will bring together most local NGOs, music groups and dance collectives.
Buduburam has brought together people of different walks of life. First refugees started to arrive in the beginning of 90s in the beginning of civil conflict in Liberia. Large groups have arrived with the Ghanaian navy ship “Tano River” and Nigerian “River Olives”. After that people arrived with whatever means. Now Buduburam is home for some 42000 refugees.
International Refugee Day was established by the decision of the UN General Assembly, primarily to express solidarity with Africa who hosts most of the refugees. This day is an opportunity to honor the efforts by countries, international agencies and various organizations to support the refugees. It is however important to remember that life of refugees is full of daily challenges. Children remain without education, which substantially reduces their chances for better life in the future, whether they come back to their country of origin or stay in the hosting country. Thousands of people in Buduburam carry hard trauma from the time of violent conflict in Liberia.
It is important to celebrate the Refugee Day in the camp. The experience of the Buduburam settlement changed the common perception of refugees as helpless victims depending on external assistance. As the research made by Oxford University's Shelly Dick in Buduburam camp showed, the refugees can not only survive without assistance, but also actively participate in the life of their community. Through the years, the community has made substantial progress in its development, becoming one of the best refugee settlements in the Western Africa.
Veteran Child Soldiers Association of Liberia representing one of the vulnerable groups of the refugees strongly believes that each refugee can participate in development of community. We are committed to further development of our community and its members.
For more information on the Veteran Child Soldiers Association of Liberia and the celebration of the World Refugee Day 2004 in Buduburam please contact Artemy Izmestiev at [email protected] or Solomon T. Patray at [email protected]