Ghana is supporting the upkeep of over 1,000 refugees from neighbouring Burkina Faso who are currently being camped at Sapelliga and Zebilla in the Bawku West District of the Upper East Region.
Most of the refugees are women and children less than one year old. The refugees who arrived in the country since December 31, 2012, had to flee to the area because of an ethnic conflict that broke out in Zabre in Burkina Faso which led to the death of seven people, with several others wounded and houses and foodstuff burnt.
Apart from being provided with shelter, the refuges on Thursday received various relief items including bags of rice, cooking oil, mattresses, soap, buckets, bowls, and toiletries from the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and the Bawku West District Assembly.
These came to light when a joint team from Ghana and Burkina Faso visited the refugees to ascertain the situation on the ground and to see how they could assist them.
The Ghanaian team led by the Upper East Deputy Regional Minister, Mrs Lucy Awuni, was made up of the Bawku West District Chief Executive (DCE), Alhaji Anaba Adam Moro, the Regional Director of NADMO, Alfred Sawuug, and some members of the security agencies.
The Burkina Faso delegation was led by the Governor of Centra East Province, Monsieur Allahidi Diallo and included the Mayor of Zabre, Monsieur Dessire S. Zagre, and some representatives of the security agencies.
The DCE for Bawku West indicated that when they got the information from the chief and People of Sapelliga that some people from Burkina Faso had come to seek refuge in the area, he did not hesitate and had to mobilize resources and personnel to be dispatched to the area to assess the situation and to also inform the Burkinabe authority about situation.
“What prompted the Assembly’s quick response is that we and Burkina Faso are one since we share a common border and have over the years strong bonds of good relationship. It is our hope that things will normalize so that you get back to your homes”, the DCE stated.
The Deputy Regional Minister who presented the relief items to the victims expressed concern over the situation, particularly about the plight of the women and children who formed the majority of the refugees, and encouraged them not to give up in life since God was there to support them.
She assured them that the Regional Coordinating Council, the Bawku West District Assembly and NADMO would continue to provide them with the necessary support till the situation in their region returned to normal, and entreated the security agencies to provide protection for them.
She indicated that the Upper East Region and Burkina Faso had been holding bilateral meetings to discuss common border issues and that they would consider emergency situations such the problem of refugees in their next sitting.
She, however, called on them to be law abiding in the area to avoid being harassed by the security agencies and commended the Chief and members of the local community for allowing the refugees to stay with them.
The Governor of Central East Province of Burkina Faso paid tribute to Ghana for the warm reception accorded the refugees and stated that it would consolidate further, the bond of relationship between the two countries.
He appealed to the refugees to return home since calm had returned to the Zabre area.