Forum on private sector support to refugees underway in Accra
A forum to rope in the private sector to support refugees on the continent commenced in Accra on Friday November 3.
The three-day event is expected to raise awareness among stakeholders about the challenges faced by forcibly displaced people on the continent and also discuss transformative approaches to address such displacements in Africa.
It would also facilitate impactful pledges and contributions, as well as explore private sector opportunities to promote inclusiveness of forcibly displaced persons for sustainable solutions in line with the objectives of Global Compact on refugees.
It would also facilitate networking and collaboration between private sector companies, government entities, humanitarian organisations and forcibly displaced people.
Private companies are being encouraged to commit at least a percentage of their resources such as financial contributions, in-kind, technical expertise and employment opportunities to support the welfare of refugees.
Participants include more than 400 VIPs and private sector leaders, 36 refugees, sponsored by Mastercard Foundation, 12 refugee fellowship students, sponsored by Amahoro Coalition and UNHCR celebrity supporters.
The Chairman of the Ghana Refugee Board, Prof. Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah, said traditional donors and other sources of funding of UNHCR were overstretched and so “it is indeed time for all of us to come together to do our bit to ensure that nobody is left behind”.
He said the country spends lots of resources in education, health and in other sectors to ensure that displaced persons were not marginalised.
“I cannot think of a better time to bring the private sector and partners together to ensure the inclusion of refugees than now,” the chairman added.
The country has a history of hosting refugees that dates back to the 1960s during the struggle for independence in many African countries.
The latest was the internal security situation in Burkina Faso which drastically deteriorated in the latter part of 2022.
As a result, an estimated 15,000 Burkinabe sought protection in the country, mainly in the Upper East and Upper West regions.
UNHCR and the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB) had biometrically registered 3,324 of the arrivals, with registration still ongoing.
“I am happy to report that the government waived 90 per cent of the fee for indefinite residence permits for former Ivorian refugees. It is only one example of the many things we do to improve the lot of displaced persons in the country,” he said.
Prof. Attafuah added his outfit deemed it necessary to ensure that the vulnerable in society were taken care of and their rights upheld.
He said it was partly for this reason that the government was implementing the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty programme to cater for the needs of the vulnerable, adding that “Ghana has always endeavoured to ensure the inclusion of refugees in society”.
The Deputy High Commissioner of UNHCR, Kelly Clements, said 44 million people across the continent were trying to find peace.
She said the northern part of the country was hosting about 15,000 Burkinabe refugees.
Ms Clements, however, said that the idea of erecting camps for refugees should be abolished as stakeholders work towards their inclusiveness.
She also urged employers to offer job opportunities to refugees to enable them to earn a living.
Ms Clements commended Ghana for offering support to refugees and expressed hope that the forum would open other support avenues to complement the work of the government and the UNHCR.