Sudanese refugees in Ghana stormed the US Embassy in Accra from their Krisan Refugee Camp in the Western Region on Monday August 2012 to demonstrate against what they call the harsh conditions they found themselves in their camp. Numbering about 76, the refugees who were holding placards and banners with various inscriptions accused the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) for not doing enough to mitigate their plight.
The spokesman of the refugees, 51-year-old Ubeid Mohamed Habib said that the Krisan Camp in the Western Region of Ghana, which accommodated about 400 Sudanese refugees, lacked several basic amenities including water, food, mattresses, hospital and schools. “We are housed in an uncompleted building without bed and mattresses,” he said. He also indicated that food supply to the camp since 2009 has stopped. Electricity supply even though is at the camp, many of them are unable to access it according to Ubeid Mohamed Habib.
The refugees appealed to the UNHCR to register them with the Ghana National Health Insurance Scheme and to also establish a school which would help them learn English language so as to integrate them into the Ghanaian society. Tetteh Paddy, the programme coordinator of UNHCR, rebuffed some of the claims, and stated that the Ghana Education Service (GES) runs a school in the camp. “However, the food supply programme is mainly sponsored by the World Food Programme (WFP) and that assistance ended in 2009. Now its focus is on emergency cases like that of La Cote d’Ivoire. Even the seven-year grace period for Cote d’Ivoire is running out of funds. If donors do not make money available they may soon have no supply.”
Mr. Tetteh Paddy also accused the refugees for breaking the camp regulations by not presenting their grievances to the camp manager. The police from the Accra Regional Police Command upon hearing of the demonstration quickly rushed on them and whisked all of them away to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters which confirmed from the UNHCR their refugee status. The police accused them for going against the Public Order Act of Ghana by demonstrating without notifying them in advance. The CID Operations Director, ACP Frank Kwofie said the CID, together with the UNHCR, would work with the Interior Ministry to find some relief for the aggrieved refugees.
The refugees expressed their disgust about the police refusal to allow them to demonstrate to tell the world of their conditions at the camp. They however stated categorically that their demonstration was not against the Ghanaian government.
The Sudanese refugee problem is not limited to those in Ghana a lone. Not long ago the United Nations refugee agency expressed fear about the health situation of more than 100,000 refugees spread out across two states in South Sudan. “With the current rain and cold, we are seeing refugees suffering from respiratory tract infections, diarrhea and malaria,” a spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Adrian Edwards, once told reporters in Geneva. According to the agency, there were 170,000 refugees living in camps and settlements across South Sudan’s Unity and Upper Nile states. They arrived from Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states after fleeing conflict and food shortages.
Reports have it that in some of the camps such as Yusuf Batil, which hosted about 34,000 Sudanese from Blue Nile state, 15 per cent of children under five – nearly 1,600 children – were severely malnourished and were being treated under a special programme to restore them to health. Meanwhile the government of Ghana has not come out to say anything about the refugees and their demonstration.
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