-As eviction deadline closes in

The fate of over 3,000 Liberians still residing in the erstwhile refugee camp in Ghana, Buduburam, hangs in the balance, as their eviction deadline closes in.

Early August of this year, local authorities in the Gomoa Region of Ghana, where Camp Buduburam is situated, issued an eviction order for residents of the erstwhile Liberian Refugee Camp to vacate the area without delay.

Buduburam formerly served as a refugee camp in the Goamoa East District located along the Accra-Cape Coast Highway. It was established in 1990 to accommodate the influx of Liberian refugees who fled the country’s internecine war in the 1990s. 

The Buduburam Camp in the Awutu Senya constituency in the Central Region of Ghana, which has for over 20 years been a place of abode for refugees, mostly Liberians would soon be demolished, according to Ghanaian authorities, who say the area which has for over two decades served as a home for refugees will be razed down to make way for development purpose.

The GOMOA East District Security Council, in its eviction notice issued 3 August, also indicated that the planned eviction is intended to make way for a demolition exercise at the area aimed at addressing the rising security challenges emanating from there.

There are countless reports of crimes and other social vices being traced to the Camp, Women Voices newspaper has been reliably informed.

In May, it can be recalled, some angry chiefs of Gomoa Fetteh in Ghana, called on the Ghanaian government to immediately demolish Buduburam also known as Liberia Camp, according to the angry chiefs, because they believe the immediate demolition of Buduburam would help reduce criminal activities in the area formerly used as a refugee camp located 44 kilometers (27 miles) west of Accra, Ghana, which was opened by the UNHCR in 1990 and was a home to more than 12,000 refugees from Liberia who fled the senseless internecine gun battles during the first Liberian Civil War that engulfed the country from 1989–1996 and the second Liberian Civil War which lasted from 1999–2003.

The Chief of Gomoa Fetteh, Nana Abor Atta, at the time added that in the face of recent unending criminal activities being recorded in Kasoa and its environs, the traditional leaders do not seem happy about the bad press from the area, noting that the demolition exercise when carried out would help restore peace and safety to Kasoa and its environs.

But Women Voices has learnt that several Liberians residing at Buduburam, recently debunked reports that they are responsible for the escalation of the criminal activities including armed robbery in the area, indicating that it is rather Ghanaians, whom they claimed, know the terrain and have access to weapons, who are the ones engaged in the perpetration of crimes that are being blamed on Liberians still residing in the Camp.

Various pockets of crimes including robbery attacks, assassination, and other socially unacceptable deviant behaviors have been traced to people who have used their abodes in the Camp as hideout and safe haven from security personnel, District Chief Executive, for Gomoa East, Solomon Darko-Quarm, alleged in May 2021, adding that the planned demolition of the Camp was in response to a request by chiefs of the area, over the increasing criminal acts there.

The eviction notice, which was signed by the District Chief Executive, stated that the GOMOA District Council has resolved and further directed that all individuals and groups residing within the former Liberian camp for refugees should vacate the area by Thursday, 30September 2021, to make way for the demolition of the place.

Howbeit, an investigation conducted by Women Voices newspaper shows that not much have been achieved by the Government of Liberia (GoL), aimed at ably representing the interests of the over 3,000 Liberians still residing at Buduburam.

Our investigation uncovers that not a single official of the GoL, has neither officially visited nor communicated with the Liberians in the Camp, or does the government know exactly how many of its citizens that are faced with the quagmire of being thrown into the streets in a foreign land.

Liberia Refugee Repatriation and Resettlement Commission (LRRRC’s) Executive Director, Rev. Festus Logan on Thursday confirmed to Women Voices that with less than two weeks for the expiration date of the Ghanaian authorities’ eviction notice, a request by the LRRRC for the profiling of Liberians residing at Buduburam, is yet to be honored by relevant authorities of the Liberian government.

Rev. Logan intoned that his entity’s suggested profiling of Liberians still residing at the decommissioned refugee camp, is to know for a fact, the exact number of Liberian citizens still at Buduburam, adding that although, it is being unofficially stated that there are about 5,000 Liberians still in the area.

He disclosed that the best the GoL has done so far is to be in a continuing diplomatic talks with the Ghanaian government behind closed doors, indicating that Liberia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is leading such talks, while several recommendations made by the LRRRC, aimed at addressing the plight of the thousands of Liberians in Buduburam, are yet to be implemented.

Last month, the LRRRC boss told Women Voices in an exclusive interview that the GoL is concerned about its citizens in Ghana, stating at the time that regarding the plight of Liberians still residing at Buduburam, his Commission had begun making several interventions, including communicating with its Ghanaian counterpart, the Ghana Refugee Board, for updates on the matter.

However, in spite of a disclosure he made regarding the GoL’s plan to have shortly commenced a consolidated approach aimed at addressing the situation Liberians at Buduburam are currently being confronted with, our investigation found that not much has been done in such direction.

“The first thing we did was to contact the Ghana Refugee Board, that’s our counterpart, to give us an update about the happenings in Ghana. We wrote them, and we anticipate response from the Ghana Refugee Board – again, we were able to inform the Board of Directors of the LRRRC about the incident…we were able to inform the President of the Republic of Liberia about the situation,” Rev. Logan said at the time, adding, “The President’s office is concern, and in the soonest possible time, government will come up with a consolidated approach with the incident in Ghana.”

But according to our investigation, an LRRRC constituted protection committee, with the mandate to ensure the safety of Liberians at Buduburam, is yet to do a single piece of job, as it is being handicapped by the lack of needed resources to function.

The LRRRC’s protection committee, has since it’s constitution over a month ago, been awaiting operational authorization from President Weah, and subsequent funding by the GoL, to have immediately traveled to Ghana, for series of engagements including meeting with authorities of the Liberian Embassy in that country, having discussions with the Ghana Refugee Board and then profiling Liberians still residing at the erstwhile refugee camp, Buduburam.

Meanwhile, Ghanaian authorities are resolved over the content of the their eviction notice issued Liberians in August, maintaining that all persons living within the affected area should leave and evacuate whatever belongings they may have in the area, before 30th September, 2021,” while emphasizing that said date would not be extended.

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