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25.05.2005 Togo

AU delegation in Ghana over Togolese refugees

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Accra May 25, GNA - A three-man delegation from the African Union (AU) is in Ghana to assess the situation of Togolese refugees following the recent crisis in Togo.

Mr Al- Maamoun Baba Lamine Keita, Ambassador of the Republic of Mali to Ethiopia, heads the delegation.

Others are: Mr Msuya W. Mangachi, Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to Ethiopia and Miss Macrine Mayanja, Senior Political Officer at Political Affairs Department of the AU Commission. In a joint press conference held by AU and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Accra on Wednesday, Mr Keita expressed the AU's solidarity with the Government of Ghana and Benin and local communities that had welcomed 15,144 refugees with open arms. Mr Keita further lauded the immense role being played by UNHCR and other agencies in alleviating the plight of some of the refugees, who had been integrated into communities along the boarders of Ghana. Some of the communities the delegation visited included Aflao, Hevi, Kpetoe, New and Old Ayoma and Afegame, all in the Volta Region. He said the delegation was expected to make various recommendations including the need for AU to find a lasting solution to the developments in Togo.

This, he said, would be discussed at the next Heads of State Meeting to be held in July, this year.

"What the AU hopes to achieve is to seek political reconciliation in Togo and ensure peaceful atmosphere in Togo. The Union also hopes to create contacts and dialogue so that Togolese refugees could return to their country safely.

"We underscore the importance of the efforts made by the AU and ECOWAS' (Economic Community of West African States) regional initiative in finding a political solution so that Togolese refugees could return home as soon as possible," Mr Keita declared.

The delegation presented a cheque for 30,000 dollars to Mr Edwin Barnes, Chief Director of Ministry of the Interior to be handed over to the Ghana Refugee Board to execute refugee programmes. Mr Barnes thanked the AU for the gesture and expressed the hope that the money would be put to good use.

Present at function included Mr A.O. Akiwumi, Chairperson of the Ghana Refugee Board and Mr Thomas Albrecht, UNHCR Representative in Ghana.

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