Ghana has lived up to her responsibilities as indicated in the United Nations and African Union Conventions on Refugees in ensuring that refugees are guaranteed all the fundamental human rights and freedoms available to Ghanaians.

Refugees in Ghana also have access to livelihoods as well as to social and other services without discrimination.

Additionally, the Ghana Refugees Board (GRB) in collaboration with the United Nations Human Right Centre for Refugee (UNHCR) has been working progressively to mainstream social services for refugees into the national systems.

All refugee camps schools had been integrated into the Ghana Education Services (GES), enabling refugee children to benefit from all social services that the GES provides for the Ghana Health Services with refugees enrolled on the National Health Insurance Scheme.

These were announced by Ms Doris Tagoe, Eligibility and Protection Officer of the GRB, in Accra at a stakeholders’ forum hosted by the Board and the Hope For Future Generations (HFFG), a non-government organisation, as Ghana joined the world to mark World Refugee Day.

The theme for the day was: “With Refugees”.

The GRB said together with its partners, it wanted the world to stand in solidarity with refugees and to know that they were ordinary people like everybody, but who were just often presented as an anonymous list of numbers.

The Refugee day was commemorated at Ampian Refugee Camp in the Western Region, with activities including officials inspecting UNHCR funded health centre recently handed over to the government, and unveiling of the intelsat-sponsored WiFi kiosk which provide free internet access to refugees and nationals living around the Ampian camp.

There was also an interactive distance learning programme for refugee children.

However, the day was also commemorated in all other refugee camps in the Central, Western and Brong Ahafo Regions.

Currently in Ghana, there are 13, 236 refugees from 34 countries of origin within and beyond Africa.  These are made up of 11,865 refugees and 1,371 asylum seekers, with children making up 36.4 per cent of the refugees.

However, UNHCR has indicated that there are about 25.5 million refugees in the world and half of the number is below 18 years.

As of June this 2017, about 55 per cent of the world refugees were from only three countries, namely, South Sudan (1.4 million), Afghanistan (2.5 million) and Syria (5.5 million).

The highest hosting country in the world is Turkey which currently hosts 2.9 million refugees, and in Africa, Uganda, hosts the highest of about 940,800 refugees.

At the stakeholders’ forum, Ms Tagoe explained that on the World Refugee day, UNHCR with support of governments, partners, donors and the media, help raise awareness on refugee issues.

She said the Refugee Board and its partners were gradually shifting focus from the purely humanitarian approach of refugee management to a developmental approach, which had been necessitated by the dwindling humanitarian resources due to the rising number of refugees worldwide.

“GRB is now focusing on harnessing the skills of refugees for reproductive ventures to benefit the refugees and the economy as a whole. This concept is outlined in the GRB’s proposed Jobs Solutions Strategy”, Ms Tagoe noted.

She however expressed regret that refugees all over the world continued to face many challenges, especially the challenge of survival in their country of asylum, while the vulnerable ones were prone to all forms of exploitation and sexual violence in their search of daily survival and livelihood.

The Forum, therefore called on all, especially, authorities in Ghana to ensure that there was justice delivery for victims of sexual violence while the term of imprisonment for perpetrators should be increased to serve as a deterrent to others.

Discussants also called on the government to operationlised the domestic violence victims and survival fund to enable victims access the fund to aid their care for medical attention and court attendances.