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12.10.2005 General News

Ghana Urges Repatriation Of Darfur Refugees

Ghana Urges Repatriation Of Darfur Refugees
LISTEN OCT 12, 2005

Ghana has made a request to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees(UNHCR)to assist it to repatriate Darfur refugees in the country to their country.
The Minister of the Interior,Papa Owusu-Ankomah,made the appeal to the Director of the UNHCR at the 56th session of the UNHCR in Geneva,Switzerland.
According to the minister,because such assistance took some time,it requested the UNHCR,in the interim,to assist the government to relocate the Darfur refugees to another country prior to the repatriation exercise.
He said the assistance would take the form of logistics and transportation,among others.He added that Ghana's request was favourably received and expressed the hope that very soon the assistance would be available for the exercise to begin.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah said since the arrival of the Darfur refugees,his outfit had been having discussions with the African Director of the UNHCR about the threat to Ghana's internal security and the need to repatriate them.
In a statement at the opening session of the committee meeting,Papa Owusu-Ankomah said countries in the West African sub-region continued to witness the salutary effects of the UNHCR's work with regard to the situation in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
He added that West African countries and the international community had invested enormously in the establishment of peace in those two countries and that lack of adequate resources should not be allowed to reverse the achievements made so far.
The Interior Minister said Ghana continued to host the refugees,in spite of their effect on the country's fragile economy,environment and infrastructure.
He noted that as part of Ghana's efforts to address the issue of refugees,it had prepared a strategic direction for refugee programme within the national context from 2004 to 2006.
He said the government,in collaboration with NGOs, the UNHCR and the refugees,had been updating the document to ensure that it addressed present- day needs.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah called for durable measures to address the root causes of refugee problems.He said with the wind of democracy and good governance blowing over the African continent,development partners would support the various initiatives on the continent for the prevalence of peace which he said was the bedrock for development.
According to the minister,other issues discussed by the assembly included the rate at which people were becoming xenophobic about the presence of refugees in their countries by calling for their repatriation and the attention to be paid to the abuse of the rights of refugees and asylum seekers,particularly in Europe.