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Liberians Wait in Ghana as Ebola Ravages Home

Business has fallen off at the Ghana Private Roads Transport Union office in Buduburam, shown Oct. 28, 2014. (Chris Stein/VOA)

Amos Bouye fled Liberia 12 years ago, as fighting engulfed the country, and wound up in a camp outside Ghana’s capital Accra. He wants to go back, but he missed the organized repatriations carried out by the United Nations. He doesn’t have the money to travel.

Now, civil war refugees like Bouye face other deterrents to going home: Ebola, and the related closed roads and cancelled flights.

"Right now there is no flight that is going, and there is no road, no border open from Ghana to Liberia," Bouye said.

The Buduburam refugee camp where he lives is quieter now than it once was. Many of the Liberians who fled to Ghana have returned home over the years, particularly after Liberians lost their status as refugees in 2012. But for those who remain, waiting is difficult.

Trucks and buses used to set out from the camp on a five-day journey to Liberia. Now, the cars just sit.

The closed borders mean traders are losing money, said Robert Mcintosh, secretary of the local Ghana Private Roads Transport Union.

"Things are not the way it should be, because when our cars are going from here, the place is packed," he said. "People are moving up and down, people are patronizing the business."

That’s not happening now, he said. “We are actually worried about the situation,” Mcintosh said. “The customers who have kept the goods here for almost three months to four months – there’s no way out for them. The goods have been parked in our trucks. The work itself is foiled.”

The news from home is frequently grim for those living in the camp. Ebola has killed more than 2,400 people across Liberia – including six of Peter Kaba’s relatives. Five died over the course of just a month.

"I was called from Liberia that my older sister died from a sickness," Kaba said. Then he got word that her elder daughter died. "From there, the little brother died, the other sister die. … There were five that die on this month."

With borders closed and jobs scarce, many of the Liberians in the camp can only hope for conditions to improve before traveling back home.

Ebola travel restrictions
Ebola travel restrictions