Refugees in Ghana accuse management of alleged exploitation
Mr John Konah, a Liberian Refugee, told the Ghana News Agency that sometimes officials of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Camp Manager diverted relief items donated to them by NGOs and philanthropists.
He said his queries about irregularities at the camp were often met with intimidation by the manager, Mr Martin Bannerman, who branded him as a trouble-maker and often reported him to the police for no wrong doing.
He alleged that UNHCR officials and the Ghana Refugee Board registered one Razak Alhassan as “Maxwell Randy Johnson” for him to benefit from the privileges as a refugee.
“I was rather threatened with police action when I raised query about the issue,” he said.
Mr Konah’s allegation was corroborated by a Togolese refugee who gave his name as Wingo, saying he had once faced similar intimidation.
When contacted, Mr Bannerman, however, denied the allegations and said donations were supervised by the leaders adding that the accusers were known to be notorious for stealing and causing trouble at the camp.
Mr Bannerman alleged that Konah was a rebel in his home country, therefore, the Liberian Embassy was not willing to grant him passport to return to Liberia even though he had been given financial resources for repatriation.
“Those two refugees think they are above the country’s laws and, therefore, do not want to abide by the rules and regulations governing the camp,” he said.
He spoke about the challenges facing the camp and indicated that there were no sufficient medicines at the clinic, however, all the refugees had been registered under the National Health Insurance Scheme to access free medical care.
The Camp Manager said the refugees had been trained in employable skills such as batik and tie and dye making and hairdressing to supplement their income.
The UNHCR Focal Person at the Camp, who only gave her name as Auntie Rebecca, also denied the allegations and said some refugees had lost their status.
This is because they had been given financial resources for repatriation and local integration, but they were still hanging around and causing nuisance at the camp.
She said the law did not allow the UNHCR and the GRB to expel them from the camp thus encouraging them to misbehave.
The camp was established in 1996 and hosted about 900 refugees from 15 different countries including, Togo, Liberia, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Congo Brazzaville and Pakistan.