AMPAIN CAMP, Western Region – – UNHCR Ghana in collaboration with the Ghana Refugee Board and other partners commemorated this year’s World Refugee Day with a colorful durbar at Ampain Camp. Invited guests who graced the occasion included the Namibian Ambassador, H.E. Charles Bernadt Josob, the Netherlands Ambassador, H.E. Mr. Ron Strikker, the Deputy Ambassador of the Apostolic Nunciature, Rev. Monsignor Renato Kucic, the UN Resident Coordinator, Christine Evans-Klock, IOM Chief of Mission, Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, UNICEF Chief of Education, Aarti Saihjee, UNFPA Programme Analyst, Bridget Asiamah and the UNHCR Country Representative, Ioli Kimyaci. Government officials and traditional leaders present at the event included the Deputy Minister for Interior, Hon. Henry Quartey, Deputy Western Regional Minister, Hon. Gifty Eugenia Kusi, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Refugee Board, Dr. Kofi Vincent Anani, the Chief and elders of Ampain as well as officials from the many stakeholder organizations who work with refugees. Delivering the keynote address, Hon. Henry Quartey mentioned that Ghana’s current refugee population of 14,000 from over 30 different countries is a manifestation of Ghana living up to her responsibilities as spelled out in the UN Convention on Refugees and a testament to the proverbial Ghanaian Hospitality.
“Your excellencies, we in Ghana have been working at mainstreaming social services for refugees into the national systems,upon ” he said, to illustrate the successful integration of refugee health and education into the Ghana Health Service and Ghana Education Service structures.
He encouraged refugees to continue to be law-abiding and reassured them that Ghana remains a safe place for persons fleeing persecution and conflict situations. In addition to that, he reiterated Ghana’s commitment to working with the UN, ECOWAS and other Regional Bodies to promote peace and stability within the sub-region and beyond as a way of ensuring that the conditions that cause displacement are addressed or better still prevented.
In line with the #WithRefugees theme speaker after speaker reiterated their commitment to stand in solidarity with refugees.
Addressing the gathering, Hon. Gifty Eugenia Kusi, Deputy Western Regional Minister on behalf of the Western Regional Minister, Hon. Dr. Kwaku Afriyie, touched on the difficulties that refugees faced as a result of dwindling funds, but however advised them to accept the existing conditions at the camp and bear with any inconvenience whilst the Government of Ghana and other donor partners make serious effort to improve their living conditions.
“Wherever we find ourselves, let us ensure that the peace and tranquility the nation is enjoying are maintained at all times.” She added.
Mr. Rexford Peasah, Business Development Manager of COMSYS, a private sector partner who is collaborating with UNHCR and Intelsat to provide free wireless Internet access to Ampain camp called on the private sector to contribute in various ways to enhance and improve the quality of life of refugees.
“We would like to use this project as a statement of support to the UNHCR and urge our colleague players in the private sector to contribute in various ways towards this worthy cause” he added.
In a statement by the High Commissioner for Refugees read by Ms. Ioli Kimyaci, Country Representative of UNHCR Ghana, she stated that in addition to honoring the courage and resilience of refugees, World Refugee Day was also an important moment to recognize those communities and people around the world who receive refugees and the internally displaced in their midst, offering them a safe haven, and welcoming them in their schools, their workplaces, and their societies.
“… it’s also a moment to ask ourselves what each of us can do to overcome indifference or fear and embrace the idea of inclusion, to welcome refugees to our own communities, and to counter narratives that would seek to exclude and marginalize refugees and other uprooted people” she said.
The Chairman of the Refugee Welfare Council, Mr. Georges Sapi Lathro in his remarks thanked the Ghanaian Government, UNHCR and other partner agencies for the assistance that they have received thus far. He stated that security conditions back home was not conducive and called for lasting peace in Cote d’Ivoire so that they can return home.
“Our dear honorable guests, you will agree with us that there is no place like home and we would have loved to go back to our country, but unfortunately as you may know the condition that our country is actually undergoing now do not guarantee peace and security, ” he said.
“We still remember the insurgency of the ex-militias and fighters of recent. The recent mutinies increase our fear and sense of insecurity” he stated.
On behalf of the refugees in Ampain, he appealed to the Government of Ghana, UNHCR and partners to take a closer look at key challenges in livelihood, health, shelter, education, ICT, and security that refugees are battling with while waiting for lasting peace to return to their country.
Guests at the event toured the camp to inspect various facilities including; the UNHCR funded health facility which was recently handed over to the Ghana Health Services; an interactive distance learning programme for refugee pupils; a refugee connectivity project sponsored by Intelsat which provides free internet WiFi access to refugees and host community; and a refugee trade exhibition.
Established on 19 March 2011, the Ampain Refugee Camp is located in the Ellembelle District, approximately an hour-and-a-half’s drive from the Western Regional capital of Takoradi. The first of three camps established in 2011 to shelter displaced Ivoirians fleeing the hostilities of the November 2010 presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire, Ampain camp currently has a population of 3,432. In addition to government partners, UNHCR works with the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG), the National Catholic Secretariat (NCS), and the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) as well as sister UN Agencies in helping rebuild the lives of the refugees in Ghana.
World Refugee Day is commemorated on 20 June every year, all over the world to honor the courage, strength and determination of the now, over 65million individuals who have been forced to flee their homes under threat of persecution, conflict, and violence. Also on this day, the agency’s partners, including governments, donors, the media and other concerned private individuals and institutions around the world, in conjunction with the refugees, participate in many activities to create awareness on refugee issues.
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Nii Ako Sowa, Communication and Public Information Associate
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