The Ghana Refugees Board (GRB) has initiated a process to naturalise 3,500 Liberian refugees who have expressed interest in integrating into the Ghanaian society.
The Executive Director of the GRB, Dr Kofi Anani, said the 3,500 opted not to go back to Liberia when the voluntary repatriation programme for the about 40,000 Liberian refugees resident in Ghana was organised in 2012.
He said the GRB was working with other state organisations, such as Parliament, the Ghana Immigration Service and the Ghana Police Service to naturalise the 3,500 Liberian refugees.
He was speaking at a news conference in Accra yesterday to create awareness of the high-level meeting of the United Nations General Assembly on addressing large movements of refugees and migrants, scheduled for September 19, 2016, in New York.
Heads of state and governments are expected to adopt a document at the meeting to guide the implementation of programmes towards addressing the challenges that refugees and migrants face.
Ghana’s delegation to the meeting will be led by the Minister of the Interior, Mr Prosper Bani.
Dr Anani said some of the 3,500 had already secured legal resident documents that qualified them to work in the country.
Dr Anani said there were currently 21,331 refugees in Ghana from 26 countries.
He said the GRB, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and other organisations were supporting the refugees to engage in agriculture.
He said funding for refugees welfare from international donors had dwindled and indicated that the GRB was, therefore, constrained financially.
The Officer in charge of migration at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Ms Kazumi Nakamura, said by the end of July, 2016, 2,700 Ghanaians had arrived in Italy.
She said most of them arrived in Italy through the deadliest Central Mediterranean route.
“Although migration can mean an opportunity for a better life for many migrants around the world, for youth opting to take an irregular journey, the experience often results in disappointment, danger and sometimes death,” she said.
At the local level, the Director of Finance at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Mr Victor Forfoe, said the ministry had supported some vulnerable persons, such as residents in Nsawam who were forced to migrate following the dynamite explosion, with money from a Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP).
The ministry had also embarked on a peace and conflict resolution programme to sensitise women to the prevention and resolution of conflict.
A Programme Officer at the UNHCR, Nii Ako Sowa, stressed the need for refugees to be supported because they normally fled from torture and persecution in their home countries.