18.04.2005 General News

More asylum Seekers Arrive From Darfur

By Graphic
More asylum Seekers Arrive From Darfur
LISTEN APR 18, 2005

Accra, April 18 (Graphic) -- Another batch of 35 asylum seekers from Darfur at Western Sudan have appeared in Prampram, bringing their registered number in the country to 215.

An unspecified number of them still wandering on the Accra Plains and around Budumburam in the Central Region are yet to be registered.

The government has, however, ordered that the latest arrivals be evacuated to Accra to join the earlier ones who have all been relocated to the Ussher Fort Prisons.

Interior Minister Papa Owusu-Ankomah confirmed their relocation to the Ussher Fort, with the explanation that the fortress provided the most secure location for the asylum seekers.

He also disclosed the presence of 527 Sierra Leoneans illegally residing in Ghana.

With Sierra Leone now at peace, after several years of a brutal civil war, the minister described the presence of its nationals in Ghana as unjustifiable and gave the assurance that the government would apply the appropriate measures to deal with the growing influx, according to the laws of Ghana and in line with the country's international obligations.

Residents of Prampram told the Graphic that the asylum seekers began arriving in the Damgbe West District of the Greater Accra Region in singles, doubles and trios until their number swelled to about 35. They had not yet been seen engaging in any economic activity but had spent much of their time relaxing at the beach.

Mr Roland Addico, a resident of the town, said the asylum seekers rented two rooms, one near the Sealane Hotel, where about 25 of them lived, and another near the Prampram Beach, where a number not exceeding 10 made their abode.

Madam Vida Kai Okai, an old and frail woman whose house is near the Sealane Hotel and in which 25 of the asylum seekers lived, said they rented one room on arrival and lived there until last Friday evening when they informed her that they would be leaving for Accra.

She said she had since not seen them but said their belongings were still in the room. Madam Okai said the room was too small to accommodate all of them and that they all slept outside in the open during the night and kept their belongings in the room.

She was unable to tell whether the asylum seekers had actually been evacuated saying she did not see how they left.

Ms Cynthia Quaynor, another resident, said about 10 lived in Esi Atta House near the beach and that they spent their time at the beach. She could, however, not tell how they subsisted.

The Interior Minister cited the abuse of “the ECOWAS protocol which allows citizens of ECOWAS states to stay in each other's country for 90 days” as a major factor in the growing refugee problem.

He also expressed displeasure at the failure of security personnel at the borders to check those who entered the country.

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