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World Refugee Day - 2022.

By GRB |23 June 2022


World Refugee Day honours the strength and courage of refugees and encourages public awareness and support of the refugees, people who have had to flee their home lands because of conflict or natural disaster.


# Whoever. Whoneever. Whenever - Eevryone has the right to seek safety


Welcome Address by the Chairman of the Ghana Refugee Board


On behalf of the Governing Board and Management of the Ghana Refugee Board, I would like to welcome you to the Ampain Refugee Camp, a camp which was set up in 2011 at the peak of the influx from La Cote d’Ivoire. It is one of three camps established in that year to host Ivorians who were fleeing generalised violence.


Firstly, permit me to express our deepest appreciation to the Chief of Ampain, Nana Nyemeke Fofoley, the Elders and People of Ampain, as well as the District Authorities (The Honourable DCE, Kwesi Bonzo is here) for graciously agreeing to host our brothers and sisters from La Cote d’Ivoire at a time when they had nowhere to go to. More importantly, the people of Ampian have lived in harmony with their guests from the Ivory Coast for the past 11 years. You have continuously shared your valuable resources with them and have not complained. Nana particularly has been very accommodating and has often been known to advocate for assistance for refugees. We cannot say thank you enough.


It is also important to acknowledge the role the UNHCR has played in assisting Government to ensure that refugees have stayed here in dignity. UNHCR has cooperated with the Ghana Refugee Board from the identification of sites for establishment of camps for refugees, through the emergency phase, the periods of implementing livelihood activities, provision of assistance in the areas of education and health among others, to the implementation of durable solutions.


To our numerous partners, both state and non-state organisations in the provision of services for refugees, we say ayekoo! You have in no small way helped us to ensure that the Right to Seek Asylum, which happens to be the theme for this year’s celebration, has been upheld. Your contribution and sacrifices have in no small way facilitated the work of the Ghana Refugee Board At the height of the Ivorian influx, Ampain Camp hosted about 5,000 refugees and asylum seekers, making it the biggest refugee camp in Ghana. With the gradual return to normalcy in their country of origin and the promotion of assisted voluntary return, the number has reduced significantly.


Finally, I would like to congratulate all Ivorian refugees for having lived within the hosts communities in peace for all these years.


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- MINISTER FOR THE INTERIOR'S SPEECH

As always, World Refugee Day is a day we acknowledge and celebrate the resilience of refugees and asylum seekers the world over. For us in the sub-region, this year is even more important, given that we are in the process of implementing Solutions for the largest refugee population, namely, Ivorians.


This year’s theme, The Right to Seek Safety, and the theme’s keywords – whoever, wherever and whenever, fit perfectly within Government’s aim of ensuring that every refugee, wherever they have come from and wherever they find themselves within Ghana, benefits from steps the State continues to take in order to guarantee their protection and ensure refugees’ safety. It is for the above reasons that Government, working with partners in refugee management, has ensured that refugees have access to education, health and other social services. This safeguards the development of refugees to the benefit of all of society. Government does not take this responsibility lightly.


Refugees in Ghana are encouraged to be self-reliant and contribute towards national development. To this end, Government, through the Ghana Refugee Board, will continue to support UNHCR in the implementation of livelihood activities, and I am reliably informed that there are many success stories in this regard. It is important that such success stories are projected to serve as good examples to all. Ghana has since the late 1950s, proven to be a safe haven for persons fleeing territories where they fear they will be persecuted. We continue to live up to our responsibilities as spelt out in the UN Convention on the Status of Refugees which we have signed up to. Ghana manages what has been referred to as a progressive asylum system that does not require all refugees to stay in camps and one that provides opportunities for refugees to develop their potential.


While we ensure that refugees go about their lives in safety and in dignity, Government does not lose sight of its foremost responsibility of guaranteeing the security of the State. We will therefore insist that persons seeking asylum in Ghana, as a matter of necessity, abide by the laws of the land. There will be no compromise where this is concerned. The asylum space will be guarded to ensure that it is not used as a conduit for perpetrating any undesirable activities.


We cannot celebrate World Refugee Day without celebrating the resilience of Ivorian nationals who have sought refuge in our country over the past 11 years. Theirs is good example of refugees who have generally lived in peace and harmony with their hosts. I do not believe that anybody wants to be a refugee for rest of their lives. It is therefore heartwarming that since the beginning of accelerated voluntary repatriation in 2021, Ivorians have returned home voluntarily in their numbers. So far in 2022 alone, over 1,800 Ivorians have taken advantage of assisted return. This is also a clear indication that it is now safe to return home. Ghana hosts refugees from over 35 different countries and I am happy to say that they have all generally been of good conduct.


It is not often that one sees refugee situations being brought to an end, particularly in our part of the world. The fact that Cote d’Ivoire is working with the international community and countries hosting their nationals, to close this chapter, must also be commended. Government of Ghana provided a humanitarian corridor for Ivorians to return home voluntarily even when the country’s borders were closed at the height of the pandemic. Ghana shall continue to fulfill her obligations to ensure that refugees return home in safety and in dignity.


Finally, let me commend UNHCR for the support provided to ensure that refugees’ rights are upheld, for organising World Refugee Day to honour refugees and for helping us to highlight their presence and contributions to society.



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