The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) on Wednesday denied reports that former Liberian refugees are entitled to continued protection in Ghana.

Early this month, some Liberian refugees were seen picketing outside the offices of the UNHCR in Accra, demanding that they be given some relief packages and relocated to different countries, following a demolition exercise at their camp at Budumbura in the Central Region of Ghana, where they previously lived.

According to the UNHCR, following the conflict in Liberia between 1989 and 2003, some 40,000 Liberian refugees found safety and hospitality in Ghana.

Among the durable solutions made available to them, voluntary repatriation and local integration were proposed, as well as resettlement to third countries for the few most vulnerable families, and only when the two solutions were not possible.

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A release issued in Accra said after the fundamental and durable changes that had taken place in Liberia, a cessation of refugee status took place on June 30, 2012, recognizing that the circumstances in connection with which they have been recognized as refugees have ceased to exist.

“With the cessation of the refugee status some years ago, except the 350 Liberians exempted from the cessation and still considered refugees, UNHCR does not consider as persons of concern or in need of international protection, the former Liberian refugees who did not opt for either a voluntary repatriation to their country of origin or local integration in Ghana,” said Loli Kimyaci, the UNHCR Representative in Ghana.

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“We concentrate our efforts on the 13,506 refugees currently in Ghana,” she said.

The end of the refugee status consequently means former Liberian refugees residing in Ghana are no longer under the umbrella of UNHCR, and do not qualify any more for durable solutions, including resettlement to a third party which was limited to a few and most vulnerable families. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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