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Ghana - Liberia Relations

Ghanaian-Liberian relations suffered a setback in September 1989 over rumors that Monrovia planned a forceful repatriation of resident Ghanaians following the return of more than 400 Liberians from Ghana. Although Accra denied that it had deported the Liberians, Monrovia retaliated by expelling 350 Ghanaians. A more serious problem occurred in 1990, when a rebel force known as the National Patriotic Front of Liberia reportedly seized about 2,000 Ghanaians living in Liberia.

Many Ghanaians also resented the presence of approximately 6,000 Liberian refugees who had settled in a camp at Bruburam near Accra; they argued that Ghanaian security forces should halt the influx of refugees by detaining them at the border, by force if necessary.

Despite these difficulties, beginning in mid-1990 the Ghanaian government deployed three battalions of troops to Liberia as part of the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) peacekeeping force. These troops served eight-month tours. In late 1994, about 1,000 Ghanaian troops were still serving in Liberia despite the government's growing impatience with the mission and the lack of progress toward a settlement of the conflict.

In March 2008 the governments of Liberia and Ghana, and the UNHCR formed a tripartite committee to facilitate the safe and voluntary return of Liberians. From April 2008 to March 31, the UNHCR, with the support of the government of Ghana, facilitated the voluntary return of 9,294 Liberians. A UNHCR verification exercise concluded that 11,062 Liberian refugees remained in Buduburam.

Many refugees in the Budumburam Refugee Camp said that they could not return to Liberia because of the trauma they experienced during the civil war. Others said they wanted vocational training before repatriation. The local integration of the 40,000 remaining Liberian refugees will doubtless take many months.

By 2009, with the anticipated invocation of the cessation clause and the end of large-scale resettlement programs for Liberians, combined with the use of DNA in the P3 family reunification program, Liberians must choose between repatriation to Liberia or local integration. Should they reject both options, and cessation was invoked, Liberians would become illegal migrants subject to Ghanaian immigration law.

In 2012 UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration assisted with the voluntary repatriation of more than 4,700 Liberians from Ghana. Approximately 3,700 Liberians opted for local integration. UNHCR and the Ghana Refugee Board continued to work with the Liberian government to issue them passports enabling them to subsequently be issued a Ghanaian residence and work permit. At years end fewer than 1,000 individuals were still awaiting Liberian passports. The Ghana Immigration Service also supported the process by issuing reduced-cost residency permits, including work permits for adults, to locally integrating former Liberian refugees.

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Page last modified: 15-03-2017 18:21:36 ZULU