Hundreds of Liberian women refugees arrested Monday by Ghanaian police remain in custody, and there are reports the Ghanaian government is considering deporting them back to Liberia as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the party of Liberian opposition figure George Weah has criticized the government of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for doing very little to address the plight of the Liberian refugees in Ghana.
Acarous Gray is national assistant secretary general for the Congress for Democratic Change (CDC). From the Liberian capital, Monrovia, he told VOA James Butty the Liberian government has been insensitive to the situation of the Liberian refugees in Ghana.
“The first thing here is that we from the major opposition political institutions, we are concerned about the status and welfare of Liberians in not only in Ghana but throughout the world. And we were a bit disappointed yesterday when we heard the spokespersons (of the Liberian government), Doctor Bropleh and Mr. Gabriel Williams describing the Liberian action in Ghana as being unruly. We thought that the government did little in addressing the plight of Liberians, especially the women and children that were picked up the security apparatus of Ghana,” he said.
Gray said the CDC, the party of George Weah, was not playing politics with the situation of the Liberian refugees in Ghana.
“This is about the concern of each and every Liberian. This is nothing about politics. This is about dignity; this is about the conditions that our people face because when the first group of Liberians returned from Ghana, they were given five United States dollars and that invoked the spirit of the people in Ghana to say that we cannot return home on the basis of five United States dollars. Later on it was negotiated for $100 and they saying $1,000. So we thought that the government of the Republic of Liberia will listen to the legitimate concerns of the people in Ghana,” Gray said.
He said Liberian refugees in Ghana have been told they can return to Liberia with belongings weighing just one kilogram. Gray said such restriction on how much Liberians can bring back to Liberia is too small
“We thought the government would have negotiated with the UNHCR so that some cargo ship will be taken in to bring some of the belongings of our people because you’re talking about people who did not voluntarily leave Liberia. They left Liberia as a result of the war. That was forceful departure from their homes,” he said.
Gray said if the Liberian government, as it has said repeatedly, wants Liberians in the Diaspora to return home and contribute to the development of the country then it must give those returning incentives. He called on President Sirleaf to send a fact-finding mission to Ghana.
“The first thing we want is for this government to immediately dispatch a fact-finding team to the Republic of Ghana to talk to the Liberian community and also the Ghanaian government on the subject matter and ascertain the facts and first-hand information because we learned this morning that some Liberian ladies had themselves butt naked. And the republic we’ve gathered is that this is far from the reality. So we strongly believe that an independent fact-finding mission from the government of the Republic of Liberia should be immediately dispatched so that we can get the actual story so that can know and understand the plight of our people,” Gray said.