Interior Ministry Inaugurates 6-Member Committee to investigate issues on Buduburam lands

New Story: Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
Ministerial Committee

©UNHCR GH/ PFolley

ACCRA, Ghana, 25 March (UNHCR) – –Government has stepped up efforts to bring to a closure matters relating to Buduburam lands. Buduburam Refugee Settlement has been home to thousands of Liberian refugees since their arrival in 1990.

Deputy Minister of Interior, Mr. James Agalga has inaugurated a six member Ministerial Committee to investigate issues bordering Buduburam Refugee Settlement lands.

Members of the Committee comprising representatives from the Interior Ministry, the Ghana Refugee Board, Attorney General’s Department, Lands Commission, National Disaster Management Organization and the Gomoa East Assembly have been tasked among other responsibilities to investigate all matters relating to the ownership of the Buduburam Settlement land and make appropriate recommendation to its future status and use.

The Buduburam Settlement is on a 141 acre land which has been occupied by Liberian refugees since 1990 following the influx of Liberian refugees who fled the civil war in Liberia. At one point, Buduburam was home to over 40,000 Liberian refugees. However, following successful presidential elections and the attainment of relative peace in Liberia, most of the refugees have been assisted to go home on voluntary repatriation. A cessation clause came into force on 30th June 2012 to bring to a closure the Liberian Refugee situation.

Consequently, the land being occupied by the refugees should be returned to government as the title owner Mr. Agalga noted. However, different people including chiefs are laying claim to the land.

Chairman of the Committee, Mr. Ken Dzirasah who doubles as the Chairman of the Ghana Refugee Board noted the importance of the Committee, especially at a time when efforts are being made by the Ghana Refugee Board and the UN Refugee Agency to bring a closure to the situation of Liberian refugees. He indicated that a lot of work needs to be done to address issues of rival claims to the land and the illegal sale of structures of former refugees. “The settlement has become a multi-national enclave housing dubious characters and this must be dealt with” Mr. Dzirasah noted. Since the majority of Liberian refugees have returned to Liberia, some Ghanaians and persons of other nationalities who are non-refugees have taken over Buduburam. Mr. Dzirasah assured the committee will work assiduously to complete the task assigned them. He called on the Interior Ministry to provide the necessary support and logistics to aid the Committee’s work.

UNHCR Representative, Ms. Chansa Kapaya indicated that UNHCR assets such as a police post, fire service station and schools amongst others which have been handed over to government are sitting on contentious land which is a matter of worry.

Ms. Kapaya also appealed to the Interior Ministry to ensure that all different aspects of the Liberian refugee situation are tackled in closing the Liberian chapter. Approximately 3,700 Liberians who opted to locally integrate in Ghana are undergoing processes to receive documentation on their alternative legal status including their Liberian passport and residence permit issued by the Ghana Immigration Service. Some refugees opted for exemption from cessation arguing continued need of international protection. As at December 2014, 255 individuals who applied for exemption have been granted positive decisions and continue to retain their refugee status. The applications of 824 Liberians who were rejected on first instance are pending appeal review.  Ms. Kapaya called for the need to speed up the issuance of residence permits and for appeal cases to be promptly reviewed.

Story:By Patience Folley