Relocate to Tarikom centre or be repatriated - Minister tells Burkinabe asylum seekers
The Upper East Regional Minister, Stephen Yakubu, has given a month’s ultimatum to 3,235 Burkina Faso nationals currently seeking asylum in the Garu District to relocate to the Tarikom reception centre in the Bawku West District.
He said that the asylum seekers, who fled to the country over terrorist attacks in Ghana’s neighbouring country, risked being repatriated back to their country if they failed to comply with the decision taken by the Regional Security Council (REGSEC) for them to move to the camp.
He stressed, “They have only two options available to them and that is either they agree to move to the temporary camp prepared for them to settle there or they return to their home country.”
Mr Yakubu, who was speaking during a meeting with the chiefs of the communities currently hosting the asylum seekers, noted that REGSEC was not happy that the asylum seekers were living among the people in the border communities instead of the camp.
There are 3,235 Burkina Faso nationals living in four communities in the Garu District. 1,545 are living in Kugri Nateenga; 1,294 are staying at Nwadua, while 190 and 209 are living in Songo and Denugu respectively.
Already, a 30-acre land has been acquired by the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB) to permanently settle the Burkinabes in Ghana.
In the meantime, the two agencies have set up a reception centre close to the permanent settlement, with some of the Burkinabes being accommodated in tents with other basic facilities such as water, electricity and sanitation facilities provided for them as well.
He noted that REGSEC was ready to provide the needed assistance for them to easily move to the reception centre to go through the required processes to pave the way for them to stay comfortably.
He expressed concern that the country’s security would be at risk if more than 3,000 Burkinabes were allowed to live in the district and other border areas in the region without proper checks to know their identities.
He added, “There could be the likelihood that some of the asylum seekers may have acquaintance with terrorists in Burkina Faso and it is important that they are prevented from living among the people.”
In a remark, the District Chief Executive (DCE) for the area, Osman Musah, said earlier some of them moved to the centre to be registered but after that, they wanted to return to the district with the humanitarian items given to them by the UNHCR.
For his part, the Kugri Naba, Chief Abdulai Asidiwaya, who assured the delegation of his full support, commended the REGSEC for deciding to swiftly relocate the asylum seekers from the various communities in the district.
He noted that since some of them had already cultivated some crops and were waiting to harvest them, they would fully comply with the directive after harvesting their crops.