UNHCR commends Ghana for hosting Burkinabe asylum seekers
The Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees at the UNHCR, UN Refugee Agency, Kelly T. Clements, has commended Ghana for hosting thousands of nationals of Burkina Faso due to instability in that country.
“I wish to express our warm appreciation to Ghana, especially communities along the borders for accepting to live with the asylum seekers who fled to escape from terrorist attacks” she stressed.
Additionally, she expressed gratitude for the provision of large acres of land to be used as a reception centre and permanent settlement for the asylum seekers at Tarikom in the Bawku West District.
Ms Clements gave the commendation when she led a team to pay a courtesy call on the Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu last Friday.
She was accompanied by the UNHRCR Country Representative, Esther Kiragu and the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB), Tetteh Padi.
Later, the team visited some of the host communities, as well as the reception centre and settlement to interact with the asylum seekers to understand their challenges and support needed.
She noted that the tour was to come to terms with the operational context in which the asylum seekers had been received and to acquire at first-hand the support they had received, as well as what more could be done for them.
She pledged that the UNHCR would provide the needed support to all institutions and partners to offer assistance to all the asylum seekers living in communities in the region.
Mr Padi said the situation at both the reception centre and settlement had improved significantly and that the asylum seekers should be willing and ready to move from the communities to the settlement.
He stated, “we have been discussing with the Ministry for the Interior on the need for the asylum seekers to move to the settlement”, saying “we will support the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) to effectively sensitise them and the local people to the need for the Burkinabes to move to the settlement”.
He added that if they refuse to move, stakeholders would find alternative action to move them in a humane and dignified manner.
In a remark, the Upper East Regional Commander of the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB), Emmanuel Owusu, appealed to authorities to fast-track the completion of the settlement to pave the way for the relocation of asylum seekers.
He expressed worry that once the asylum seekers live in the host communities for a long time, it makes it easier for them to integrate and that any attempt to move them thereafter would become very difficult.
The Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for Bolgatanga, Rex Asanga, who received the team on behalf of the regional minister, stated that more than 7,000 Burkinabe asylum seekers had been registered and living within the Bawku zone.
He commended the UNHCR and the GRB for putting up the reception centre which paved the way for the relocation of 996 of the asylum seekers to the place after initial resistance.