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By GRB |12 October 2022

This morning, Ghana was represented by Prof. Kenneth Agyemang Attafuah, Chairman of the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB), Mr. Tetteh Padi Ag. Executive Secretary, GRB and Mrs. Heidi Opoku-Mensah of the Ghana Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva. Ghana presented her position at the 73rd Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) taking place in Geneva, Switzerland, from 10 – 14 October 2022.

In the statement, Ghana emphasised full alignment with the Statement delivered by the Republic of Chad for and on behalf of the African Group and reaffirmed the need for stakeholders to effectively implement the commitments contained in the UN Secretary-General's Program of Action on Internal Displacement and the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement.

On the domestic front, the statement highlighted Ghana’s responsibility of ensuring that refugees are included in the provision of services customarily available to the public, including accessing the Ghana Card for Refugees.

The statement also emphasized Ghana’s abiding fulfilment of its obligation to protect the safety and dignity of refugees and asylum seekers in Ghana including:

a. Registering and extending social services (health and education) to Burkinabe nationals who have sought refuge in Ghana due to the security situation in their country;

b. Providing Durable Solutions for Protracted refugee caseloads for Ivorian refugees by working with the UNHCR to repatriate former Ivorian refugees who chose to return home voluntarily. Ghana has instituted measures to ensure that the 955 former Ivorian refugees who opted to remain in Ghana on legitimate grounds will have an Alternative Legal Status (ALS) that is truly permanent by granting them indefinite residence status; and

c. Suspending the planned decommissioning of the Buduburam Refugee Camp in September 2021 in order to facilitate the safe and humane repatriation of some former Liberian refugees who had, on their own accord, returned to the Buduburam Camp after they had benefited from voluntary repatriation. It was pointed out that the camp used to host Liberian refugees from 2003 but it now serves as unauthorized home to some former Liberian refugees as well as Ghanaian nationals; it is no longer recognized by the UNHCR and the GRB as a refugee Camp for Liberians or any other nationals. High-level meetings have been held between Ghana and Liberia and a roadmap developed to repatriate the non-refugee Liberians from the former camp to Liberia, subject to the availability of funding from appropriate quarters. In addition, Ghana will properly decommission the camp in a safe, secure, humane and efficient manner consistent with domestic and international law and Ghana’s human rights obligations.

The speech concluded with an acknowledgement of the enormous contribution by UNHCR through the assistance it offers within and outside our country in ensuring that refugees and asylum seekers receive the desired international protection and assured that Ghana will continue to collaborate with UNHCR and other partners to this end.

NB: Delegates are allowed a maximum of five minutes to address the Executive Committee Meeting.

In his remarks following Ghana’s address, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, His Excellency Mr. Filippo Grandi, expressed delight over the concept of including refugees in the acquisition of the Ghana Card and enabling them to access diverse facilities and services, describing it as “extremely important”. He expressed appreciation for Ghana’s handling of the influx of Burkinabe nationals seeking refuge in Ghana because of the security situation in their country, which he said was worrying.

Mr. Grandi added that “when refugees start to move to coastal areas”, it justifies “the concern and provides one more reason to invest more to bring to an end or to improve the situation in the area of the root cause of those influxes”. He also lauded Ghana for “being one of the main actors in bringing to a close the situation of the Ivorian refugees with the invocation of the Cessation Clause” and other measures.

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