Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2017, 15:16 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Ghana

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 1 June 2003
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2003 - Ghana , 1 June 2003, available at: [accessed 20 November 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Ghana hosted more than 40,000 refugees at the end of 2002, including some 35,000 from Liberia, about 5,000 from Sierra Leone, and nearly 1,000 from Togo. About 3,000 new asylum seekers entered the country during the year.

Some 10,000 Ghanaian refugees remained in Togo at year's end. Nearly 2,000 Ghanaians were asylum seekers in Western countries.

Refugees from Liberia

Thousands of Liberian refugees and asylum seekers fled to Ghana in 1990–91 to escape Liberia's civil war. Smaller numbers arrived in subsequent years. Approximately 3,000 new Liberian asylum seekers fled to Ghana during 2002.

Most Liberian refugees and asylum seekers lived in Buduburam camp, 25 miles (40 km) west of Accra, the capital. Although an estimated 27,000 individuals, including some Ghanaian citizens, lived in Buduburam camp during 2002, the Ghanaian government claimed that fewer than 5,000 were Liberians who merited official refugee status.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) ended assistance to most refugees in Buduburam in 2000 because it judged most camp occupants to be economically self-sufficient. The agency, however, continued to provide limited targeted assistance to a small number of refugees deemed needy.

During early 2002, funding constraints forced UNHCR to curb already reduced income-generation programs that targeted vulnerable refugee women and cut distributions of food and non-food items.

UNHCR re-established a small amount of general aid to the camp's occupants in July 2002, primarily in response to an influx of refugees from Liberia.

Buduburam's already deteriorating infrastructure fell into a state of disrepair during UNHCR's absence. The camp's water and sanitation systems barely functioned and uncollected garbage presented health hazards.

UNHCR provided limited medicine and equipment to Buduburam's health clinic. Crime in the camp declined in 2002 after UNHCR hired two additional police officers and refugee community groups became more diligent, according to UNHCR.

A census conducted by the Ghanaian government estimated that approximately 8,000 Liberian refugees and asylum seekers lived outside of refugee camps during 2002. Most Liberians living outside of camps resided in Accra, where they struggled to earn income and fully support themselves in Ghana's depressed employment market.

Refugees from Sierra Leone

About 5,000 refugees who fled civil war in Sierra Leone during the past decade continued to live in Ghana.

More than 1,000 Sierra Leonean refugees resided at Krisan camp, 185 miles (300 km) west of Accra, at year's end. UNHCR provided refugees in Krisan with food, shelter, water, health care, and primary education. Refugees also received health and HIV/AIDS education training.

Several hundred refugees in Krisan benefited from income-generation projects that encouraged self-sufficiency, including agriculture activities and cash grants from UNHCR to start small businesses.

The Ghanaian government estimated that approximately 4,000 Sierra Leonean refugees lived outside of Krisan camp, primarily in Accra.

Impact of Côte d'Ivoire Crisis

The eruption of civil war in neighboring Côte d'Ivoire in September forced several hundred Liberian and Sierra Leonean refugees living in Côte d'Ivoire to seek safety in Ghana during 2002.

Uprooted Ghanaians

Ethnic conflict linked to land disputes uprooted about 100,000 people in northern Ghana during 1994–95, including at least 10,000 Ghanaians who fled to neighboring Togo.

Although most uprooted families returned to their homes after the violence subsided, some 10,000 Ghanaian refugees remained in Togo during 2002. Ghanaian officials and UNHCR met jointly with the refugees during the year and encouraged them to repatriate. Fewer than 1,000 registered to return home.

Three days of clashes between rival clans over an annual fire festival in northeast Ghana killed more than 40 people, including a local traditional ruler, and temporarily displaced more than 1,000 persons in March.

Tensions and mistrust between the clans resulted in the Ghanaian government imposing a state of emergency and a media blackout in the northeast that remained in effect until late 2002.

UNHCR in Ghana

Ghana is a party to the UN Refugee Convention. With guidance from UNHCR, the Ghanaian government reconstituted the Ghana Refugee Board in November.

UNHCR/Geneva finalized plans at the end of 2002 to designate UNHCR/Ghana as a Regional Resettlement Hub for purposes of resettling abroad selected refugees who have no hope of repatriation or local integration.

A serious corruption scandal within UNHCR/Ghana during 2002 resulted in UNHCR staff changes.

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