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Liberian Refugees Demand Repatriation: 43 Others Go to Court for Riot

Citi News and Joy News,  media institutions of Ghana have reported that Liberian refugees are demanding to be repatriated to their homeland Liberia because they are no longer safe in Ghana, the country they have sort refuge for the past 21 years.

According to Citi News,  a member of the joint Liberian Refugee Committee, Bobby Gee told the media institution that he personally saw an old woman and a young lady killed by police officers who raided the camp on Sunday February 13, to thwart the induction of newly elected Welfare Executives for the Refugees. “The newly elected council invited the Police, the Ghana Refugee Board and UNHCR to grace the induction ceremony on Sunday but the police went there with the sole aim of ensuring that the programme never came off”,  Mr. Gee said.  According to one eyewitness, the police surrounded the hall where the ceremony was set to take place and arrested two, including the leader who was about to be sworn in.

“As the police drove off with the two, some residents pelted the convoy and the police responded with gun shots and tear gas,” the eyewitness said.

Mr Gee also accused the police of using lies and propaganda to trample on the rights of the Refugees who have been in Ghana for almost 21 years.  “As the police drove off with the two, some residents pelted the convoy and the police responded with gun shots and tear gas,” the eyewitness said.

A spokesman for the police, however, told CNN they were called in to quell disturbances between two rival factions both claiming to be the legitimate leaders. One faction was trying to install a new leader in place of the existing leadership, spokesman Kwesi Ofori said.
The Ghanaian spokesman said thirty Liberian refugees have been arrested but according Citi News, eyewitness say there were as many as 54 refugees arrested and are in their detention.

The refugees accuse the police of shooting indiscriminately in a bid to stop the swearing-in of new refugee leaders.

Some of the refugees who spoke to Joy News’ Fiifi Koomson were visibly angry at the police for what they said was the murder of their colleague.

Fifty refugees were arrested by the police for their roles in the violence and are due for prosecution.
Victoria Munat, one of the leaders of the refugee population at Buduburam told Joy News they are tired of the “unfair treatment” meted out to them by the Ghana government and the UNHCR.

She accused the Refugee Board – representing the Ghana government, and the UNHCR of imposing leaders on the refugee population even though they have a right to choose their own leaders.

According to her, the UNHCR connived with the Board to sit on rice and other food items brought for them by donor countries.  They have resolved to leave the country, but are also demanding the release of the  refugees who have been arrested.  The refugees mainly from Liberia and Sierra Leone have been living in Ghana for well over ten years after years of civil war ravaged their home countries.

Tetteh Padi, Coordinator of the Refugee Board said allegations of interference are not true.

He explained that the Board had yielded to assertions that the Welfare Council at the camp was not representative enough and had put together an all stakeholders committee.

Tetteh Padi, Coordinator of the Refugee Board said allegations of interference are not true.

He explained that the Board had yielded to assertions that the Welfare Council at the camp was not representative enough and had put together an all stakeholders committee to constitute another Welfare Council.

According to him, a group wanted to impose themselves on the refugees, adding, the arrested persons would be made to face the full rigours of the law.

He said they were awaiting security advise before proceeding to organize another election for the refugees.

Ewurabena Hutchful, a UNHCR official, also dismissed the refugees’ allegations.

She said there had been an agreement for an election to be held in February 2011, but a group organized “its own unregulated elections and inaugurated themselves.”

On the demand for repatriation, Ms Hutchful said the refugees were free to make such a demand, more so now that their home countries have been declared safe.

Ewurabena Hutchful, a UNHCR official, also dismissed the refugees’ allegations.

She said there had been an agreement for an election to be held in February 2011, but a group organized “its own unregulated elections and inaugurated themselves.”

On the demand for repatriation, Ms Hutchful said the refugees were free to make such a demand, more so now that their home countries have been declared safe.

The refugees accuse the police of shooting indiscriminately in a bid to stop the swearing-in of new refugee leaders.

Some of the refugees who spoke to Joy News’ Fiifi Koomson were visibly angry at the police for what they said was the murder of their colleague.

Fifty refugees were arrested by the police for their roles in the violence and are due for prosecution.

Victoria Munat, one of the leaders of the refugee population at Buduburam told Joy News they are tired of the “unfair treatment” meted out to them by the Ghana government and the UNHCR.

She accused the Refugee Board – representing the Ghana government, and the UNHCR of imposing leaders on the refugee population even though they have a right to choose their own leaders.

According to her, the UNHCR connived with the Board to sit on rice and other food items brought for them by donor countries.  They have resolved to leave the country, but are also demanding the release of the 15 refugees who have been arrested.
The refugees mainly from Liberia and Sierra Leone have been living in Ghana for well over ten years after years of civil war ravaged their home countries.  Tetteh Padi, Coordinator of the Refugee Board said allegations of interference are not true.

He explained that the Board had yielded to assertions that the Welfare Council at the camp was not representative enough and had put together an all stakeholders committee to constitute another Welfare Council.

According to  police spokesman, 43 refugees arrested will  go to court on charges of riot and conspiracy to commit crime.
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