Tetteh Padi — Executive Director of the board
Tetteh Padi — Executive Director of the board

Refugee Board relocates Burkinabe asylum seekers

The Ghana Refugee Board (GRB) has started moving Burkinabe asylum seekers to the designated settlement it has put up at Zini in the Sissala West District in the Upper West Region. 


It said although the settlement, located at Zini in the Sissala West District, could accommodate about 2,000 people, it was expandable due to the availability of land around it. The Executive Director of the board, Tetteh Padi, who made this known to the Daily Graphic, also emphasised that all the Burkinabes were still asylum seekers and that the board was yet to recognise them as refugees.

He disclosed that the relocation of the asylum seekers from their hosts in communities to the settlement started last Wednesday, and that it was being done by the families themselves. 

Refugee status

Mr Padi said those being sent to the settlement were people the commission had data on but had not yet registered them as asylum seekers, adding that "our officers are on the field right now to register them".

As of last Friday, he said, the board had not registered anyone in the Upper West Region but had identified 1,300 people who were to be in the settlement.  "All the Burkinabes are currently asylum seekers. The board is yet to recognise them as refugees," he said.

Asked what it would take to recognise them as refugees, Mr Padi said it would take the board’s decision on how to determine their status. "If we have to do any individual status determination it would take a longer time, so the board may decide to recognise them as a group, given that we know why they are fleeing," he explained.

That, the GRB Executive Director said, was done in the case of the Liberians and Ivorians, adding that the board’s decision only constituted a declaration until it was published in the national gazette.

Mr Padi added that although they were yet to be granted refugee status, the asylum seekers were enjoying some support that included health and education. "But we would not for instance assist them to open a bank account, we wouldn't allow them to work; there are some minor differences between refugee status and an asylum seeker,” he explained.


Breaking down the number of asylum seekers, Mr Padi said over 3,200 had been registered in the Upper East Region with none yet registered in the Upper West Region. "So it is the 3,200 that we have registered but they are all in the Upper East Region," he explained.

The board does not have anybody seeking asylum in the Northern Region, he added. The board said it was satisfied with the conduct of the asylum seekers so far.

"The only challenge is we need to relocate them from the host communities along the border towns to the settlement," he said, adding that the process had been smooth so far. The government and the UN Refugee Agency, UNCHR, are funding the works.

The asylum seekers are registered as such, after they had been screened by security personnel to establish their mission and ensure that they are not different from who they claim to be.

Mr Padi said the board was working closely with the security agencies to ensure that it did not register any person who had an ulterior motive. “This is part of the reason we want to relocate them to the settlement because if you leave them in the host communities, living anywhere they want, so close to the border, it poses a security risk," he explained.

The relocation exercise is also essential to enable the board to provide assistance to the asylum seekers efficiently. It also saves cost in serving them at one place compared to if they were scattered in different places.

"Secondly, it is very critical for the security of the state that we have all the people in one place because that will help us to know where they are and what they are up to. It would also be easy to identify people who are outside the settlement," the Executive Director of GRB said.


The GRB, under the Ministry for the Interior, is charged with the management of activities relating to refugees and asylum seekers in the country. The GRB coordinates all activities relating to the management and care of refugees in the country.

It is the sole agency mandated to grant refugee status to persons seeking asylum in the country. The board partners the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and other state agencies such as National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to assist the refugees.

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