Saturday, March 22, 2008

More arrest and deportation at Buduburam refugee camp in Ghana

By Semantics King Jr.,Minnespolis

Ghana’s Police force at about 3am Ghanaian time today began arresting Liberian refugee men including those with the joint Government of Ghana and UNHCR issued identification cards.
Reports say those without will be send back to Liberia in a day or two since they are not refugees.

Ghana’s deputy foreign Minister, Frank Agyekum told Ghanaians that the 35 Liberian men arrested this morning are not refugees but are a part of agroup formenting trouble.He said they will be repatriated to Liberia.
But according to an eye witness,(his name is withheld for some security reasons) who spoke to from his hiding place through his cellphone, though it ’s still unclear what prompted the renewed arrests,he thinks Ghana is arresting and contemplating forcefully repatriating the refugees because of what some Ghanaians called Liberians ungratefulness.
Our Source said Ghana Police began going from house to house to effect the arrests as there is no authority in the camp as he spoke to us.He said Police even went to the St.Gregory Catholic Clinic in the refugee camp run by UNHCR and arrested some patients who were on critical medical list that needed urgent medical attention .
Our Source said the men arrested this morning were taken to Burma Camp near the capital, Accra.
Meanwhile a 54-year old Liberian refugee woman was also arrested this morning while on her way to Accra. Her son, Issac Fahnbulleh who spoke to from his cell phone said his mother; Sonne Kaba was arrested when she went to pick up the Liberian flag that Ghanaian Police had thrown on the ground.

He said while his mother was walking on the road, she saw Ghanaian Police pull down the Liberian flag and began to tear it into pieces. She rushed to save her country’s flag from being destroyed but Ghana Police advised her not to touch it. She refused and she was arrested.
There are three flags flown at the offices of the Liberian Refugee Welfare Council in the refugee camp. A Ghanaian, UNHCR and Liberian flags. Of the three, Isaac said, only the Liberian flag was pull down.
Almost a month ago, a group of Liberian refugee women began protesting a UNHCR repatiation package which they said was not enough to allow them rebuild their lives and begin Life anew in Liberia.

They asked the UNHCR to provide each of them with $1000USD or they should be resettled to third countries of asylum. They refused to be integrated into Ghanaian society because Ghanaians don’t like them.
Two pregnant women among a number of Liberian refugees seized by Ghanaian security agents are reported to have had miscarriages at the Kodeabe Youth Camp in the Eastern Region where they are being held. Two others have suffered scorpion bites, and according to Nana Oye Lithur of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, conditions are simply appalling for the refugees.
Another woman who had diarrhea was only saved by the intervention of a human rights activist who called the commander of the security unit for her to get medical attention.About 600 demonstrating refugees were on Monday arrested at their Gomoa Buduburam Camp and carted to Kodeabe by security forces after they spurned Interior Ministry warnings to cease the demonstrations because they contravened the Public Order Act.

Nana Oye Lithur of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, who spoke in Accra on Thursday March 21, 2008, said the government itself was violating the Constitution by holding the refugees beyond the legally permissible period of 24 hours for arrests and detentions.She said since their arrest, the refugees are yet to be charged before any court, arguing that even if their case was a special one, it still remained the prerogative of the courts to decide their fate, and not even the President, let alone the Interior Minister. The Human rights activist said “not even the President of the Republic of Ghana can go against the Constitution, nobody and more so a Minister of Interior. That is why we have the courts to ensure that the powers of Government are balanced with the individual rights and these Constitutional provisions are entrenched in our Constitution and it is for these very reasons that we have them entrenched and that is why the Minister of the Interior should take the matter to court for the courts to decide.
And he has to inform the courts why he is still holding them beyond the 48 hours rule. We are not talking about whether they are refugees or not, we are talking about the fact that he is violating the Constitution and detaining people in custody beyond 48 hours and their conditions are not good enough, they are deplorable if you ask me. They are deplorable from what I saw today and that is not right,” Nana Oye said”.She added that tents housing the refugees had no underlay and it exposed them to a lot of danger.Nana Oye Lithur said even if the government intended to deport the refugees, there were procedures that did not allow the abuse of the rights of the refugees. She therefore urged the Interior Ministry to respect the Constitution and go to court if it intended to press charges since their current state left their lives in danger.

Refugees claimed they have lived in Ghana for the past 18 years, yet Ghana was not able to feed them, send them to school or even provide basic human services to them. Therefore, they believe integration into Ghanaian society would be a hard fight for them.
Reports just reaching indicate that 30 Liberians have been repatriated to Monrovia and would arrive there between 5:30pm and 6pm Liberian time. Of the 30,21 are men while nine are women.
Liberia’s Foreign Ministry has confirmed that 30 of its citizens would be arriving in the country today.

Please keep your explorer on as we will bring you all the latest news as it happens in the Liberian refugee camp in Ghana.

Sam K.Zinnah from Deleware also helped to compile this report

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