UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency Representation in Ghana has celebrated World Refugee Day with a call on government to accede to the two UN Statelessness conventions. This call was made in a statement read in Parliament by Member of Parliament for Ningo-Prampram, Honorable Samuel Nartey George, as part of events to mark World Refugee Day 2018 in Accra.
UNHCR Ghana has been engaging with government through the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs on Ghana’s outstanding pledge to accede to the two UN statelessness conventions. Although Ghana committed in 2015 to accede to the statelessness conventions in the first Ministerial Sub regional Conference on Statelessness in West Africa by the end of 2016, it still remains one of two countries within the West African region yet to implement the national action plan to eradicate statelessness.
A stateless person is defined by UNHCR, as an individual who is not considered a national by any State under the operation of its laws. UNHCR is asking governments to give nationality to persons born on their territory who would otherwise be stateless, and facilitate naturalization for individuals who may be at risk of being stateless. An estimated 10 million people worldwide are stateless, a status that deprives them of an identity, rights, and often jobs. The global action plan is from 2014 to 2024 and UNHCR is aiming to support states to end statelessness in 10 years.
At a ceremony held in Accra in to mark the Day, the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Christine Evans-Klock praised Ghana’s efforts at meeting the needs of refugees over the past years.
Acting Representative of UNHCR Ghana, Ms. Magda Medina reiterated the call for government to approve legal pathways for durable solutions such as local integration for protracted refugee cases in Ghana.
Minister of Information, Hon. Mustapha Abdul-Hamid shared his personal life experience growing up as a son of a refugee. “My father was a refugee for 16 years and I can tell you the psychological trauma that I suffered as a result, the retardation that it brought me and the threats to my education and forward
movement in life tells me that refugees and the refugee situation is something that every human should be concerned about” he noted. Mr. Hamid expressed concern about the millions of children around the world who do not know the whereabouts of their fathers and mothers and how little their chances of surviving are because of the refugee phenomenon. He pledged government’s support for the UNHCR.
The Chairman of the Ghana Refugee Board, Professor Kenneth Attafuah emphasized the need to recognize the opportunities that refugees bring to their host countries.
UNHCR High Level Influencer (HLI) who is also the owner and Creative Director of Biishville, Kwame Amfo-Akonnor, used the occasion to call for support for refugees by donating to the UNHCR’s LuQuLuQu campaign.
Other activities to mark the day included a painting exercise for refugee and host community children. Children who performed well were presented with prizes
And at the field level, durbars were organized at the Ampain, Egyeikrom, Krisan and Fetentaa refugee camps in Ghana to mark the day. There were football matches between refugees and the various host community youths. There were also quiz competitions for school pupils. Winners of the football and quiz competitions received awards.
Refugees engaged in various livelihood activities in the camp took the opportunity to mount exhibition at the camps to showcase their works.
Message by UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi to mark World Refugee Day 2018
Today, World Refugee Day, is a time for solidarity with refugees – and with the communities that welcome them. As conflicts emerge, recur, persist and deepen, 68.5 million people are uprooted around the world. Nine out of 10 are in their own countries or countries next door, and the impact is massive – on refugees themselves, and on the communities that open their doors to them. Now, more than ever, taking care of refugees must be a global – and shared – responsibility. It’s time to do things differently.
A new model is now being tested, with positive results – based on equity, on justice and on humanitarian values and standards. Countries and communities need more systematic, long-term support as they take on the job of helping uprooted families. Refugees themselves need to be included in new communities, and given the chance to realize their potential. And solutions are needed – to help refugees return home when the time is right, or build new lives elsewhere. The Global Compact on Refugees – to be adopted this year – aims to make these happen.
Getting laws and policies right is vital. But its local people and communities that are on the frontlines when refugees arrive, and whose welcome makes the difference – the difference between rejection and inclusion; between despair and hope; between being left behind and building a future. Sharing responsibility for refugees starts there.
We see this everyday – in Beirut, Lebanon; Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh; Yumbe, Uganda; Frankfurt, Germany; Lima, Peru and countless villages, towns and cities around the world. It’s the men, women and children there, the local organizations and faith groups, the teachers, local business people and municipal leaders who make the difference – with humanity, compassion and solidarity.
Often, these communities are themselves on the margins – in remote border areas, or with few resources of their own. Yet, overwhelmingly, when refugees arrive, they share what they have motivated by compassion, and a sense of human dignity. And when people work together, the results are powerful.
Who are these everyday heroes? People who know what it means to belong to a community – and are ready to help others belong too. By extending a helping hand directly, or working together – as part of a local church or mosque, a school group, sports team, cooperative society, or youth group. Some have been refugees themselves, and know what that means. Through their generosity, they shine a light on the potential of refugees – and the endless opportunities to help them.
Helping refugees rebuild their lives needs all of us – working together so that they can achieve what most of us take for granted – education, a place to live, a job, being part of a community. Over time, the impact is enormous – for refugee families and those who welcome them.
On World Refugee Day, it’s time to recognize their humanity in action – and challenge ourselves, and others, to join them – in receiving and supporting refugees in our schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces. This is where solidarity starts – with all of us.