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Liberian Refugees in Ghana Agreed to Leave Protest Site

Protesting Liberian refugees at the Buduburam Refugee Camp outside the Ghanaian capital, Accra have left the football field where they have been holding daily sit-ins for the past three weeks. They have been demanding a thousand dollars each from the UN refugee agency for repatriation to Liberia.

Jos Garneo Cephas is a Liberian refugee and editor of the Vision Newspaper, an online service published from the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana. He told VOA the decision to leave their protest site followed a meeting Monday with the advanced team of a Liberian government delegation headed by the Liberian Ambassador to Ghana.

“Yesterday the refugee camp received a four-man delegation headed by the Liberian ambassador to Ghana, Mr. Rudolph Van-Ballmoos. They arrived at the camp and held a first-hand meeting with the Liberian refugees appealing to them to see how best they could down the protestation which has lasted for five weeks now,” he said.

Cephas said the meeting was a very successful one during which the refugees presented several petitions to the delegation.

“The refugees gave a verbal petition to the Liberian delegation pleading that they are wishing to return to Liberian and that the 20 kilo allotted by the UNHCR to them is very inadequate, and that they are appealing to the UNHCR to increase the $100 to a $1,000 to enable them to return home and resettle themselves after 14 years of civil war,” Cephas said.

He said the refugees also told the visiting Liberian delegation that raids on the camp by Ghanaian security forces have caused men refugee to flee the camp into hiding.

“They were appealing as well that due to the security raids which has caused all of the men to flee the camp and they are in hiding as we speak, that the Ghana government should be able to exercise restraint to cut this off so their men and brothers would return back to the refugee camp. And they are also requesting the more than 600 women and children that are being detained at the Kodiatbat Center in the eastern region of Ghana to be returned to the refugee camp for them to be united once more with their families,” he said.

Cephas said the refugees, having being satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, gathered their belongings and began to leave the football field where they have been protesting for five weeks.

“Immediately as a result of the meeting, the ladies in more 200 plus roll up their mattresses, their mats, their lappas, and every belonging from the field and began to sing victorious songs, and that they wanted to return to Liberia and continue to match on with the delegation saying, we want to go, we want to go. At that moment, immediately they began to set on fire all of the refuse that the caused on the football field and some of the stuff that they have built along the roadside were set on fire,” he said.

Cephas said a high power Liberian government delegation headed by the foreign minister arrived in Ghana Monday and was scheduled to hold meetings with senior Ghanaian government officials, including President John Kufuor.

But Cephas said he wasn’t sure whether the delegation would meet with the refugees.

“According to reliable information, when I spoke with the ambassador, Mr. Rudolph Van-Ballmoos, he told me that the team has arrived and immediately they will be moving on to discussion with the Ghana government. But it is not clear whether the head of the team, that is the three ministers, the foreign minister, interior, and justice minister will be visiting the camp,” Cephas said.