The Government of Ghana considers the urban area a legitimate protection space where refugees can live and work; thus refugees are not restricted to the camps. Currently, the urban refugees and asylum seekers live in the Accra metropolitan area and surrounding areas. There is no refugee camp within the Accra metropolitan area. These refugees and asylum seekers come from countries such as Sudan, Togo and Ivory Coast, Benin, Cameroon, Congo, Somalia, Syria. The Ivorians are the biggest population in the urban areas due to the Ivorian influx in 2011. New asylum seekers of various nationalities and persons affected by recent conflicts in countries such as Central Africa Republic, in the Darfur Region of Sudan, and in Syria continue to be received and registered by the Ghana Refugee Board. In the year 2013, a total number of 1,296 persons applied for asylum with the Ghana Refugee Board mainly in Accra.
The UNHCR Branch Office in Accra assists Ghana Refugee Board which has the overall responsibility for refugee management in Ghana to provide protection and assistance to urban refugees and Out-of-camp refugee populations such as the Togolese refugees in host communities in the Volta Region. Additional material support to refugees in the urban area and out-of-camp locations is ensured through UNHCR’s implementing partners, the Christian Council of Ghana and National Catholic Secretariat.
The work of UNHCR with refugees and asylum seekers in the urban area is guided by the UNHCR Urban Refugee Policy of 2009. Some of the strategies UNHCR adopts include advocacy, capacity building and provision of technical support to national partners and implementing partners.
Nature of assistance provided by UNHCR in the urban area and out-of-camp locations
UNHCR’s services to refugees and asylum seekers are free of charge. UNHCR ensures access of persons of concern to information and to UNHCR services through open counseling days which is organized at the Branch Office in Accra twice weekly.
In coordination with implementing partner, the Christian Council of Ghana, UNHCR provides different kinds of assistance to urban refugees and asylum seekers. Urban refugees and asylum seekers receive primary health care through the National Health Insurance Scheme in public health facilities. Other assistance provided includes provision of learning materials to children in basic schools; distribution of sanitary towels; small business support etc.