Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 January 2018, 16:10 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2007 - Ghana

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 11 July 2007
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2007 - Ghana, 11 July 2007, available at: [accessed 17 January 2018]
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.

Refoulement/Physical Protection

There were no reports of refoulement in 2006. Refugees in Krisan camp reported two attempted sexual assaults, and 400 such incidents occurred in Buduburam camp, according to the nongovernmental organization, Women in Self-Empowerment. Refugees in Krisan camp also reported rapes, but witnesses could not determine if the offenders were police or other refugees, as the camp had no lighting at night. Officials prosecuted three persons for sexual assault, only one of whom received a sentence and that, for six months. Refugees in Buduburam reported sexual coercion under threat of eviction.

Ghana was party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, its 1967 Protocol, and the 1969 Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa, all without reservation except to the Protocol's dispute resolution provision. The 1992 Refugee Law granted refugees the rights of all three instruments and prohibited their refoulement. It recognized refugees under either convention's definition and any group the Government determined to be refugees. The Law established the Ghana Refugee Board (the Board) to screen applicants, on which the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had an observer role. The Government allowed a nongovernmental organization, Distressed and Displaced, to sit on it as well. The law required asylum seekers to apply to Immigration Services, the police, or UNHCR within 14 days of arrival, though the Board could allow an extension. The Board had to consider applications within 30 days and personally interviewed applicants from outside western Africa or those suspected of being former combatants. Denied applicants had 30 days to appeal to the Minister of Interior but could remain in the country with their families pending outcome and three months beyond to seek entry elsewhere. Asylum seekers had the right to counsel at their own expense. The 1992 Constitution (amended 1996) extended to "every person in Ghana" its fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individual in articles 12 through 33.

The Board continued to grant prima facie status to Togolese refugees as well as to Liberians who arrived prior to the presidential inauguration in early 2006. Among the other refugee groups were about 700 Sudanese, nearly all in Krisan camp. The remainder was from Rwanda, Côte d'Ivoire, or Sierra Leone.

UNHCR encouraged Liberian refugees to repatriate by June 2007. About 4,700 Liberians repatriated and third countries resettled 1,200, but many of the repatriates returned to Ghana. Nearly 5,700 Togolese refugees repatriated without any assistance or encouragement from the Government.

Detention/Access to Courts

Ghana held 16 refugees it accused of participating in the November 2005 riots in Krisan camp on several charges, including arson. All suspects secured bail and returned to the camp to await trial. UNHCR monitored the cases but at year's end, it had not yet gone to trial. The Government did not release an investigative report about police use of tear gas, warning shots, and beatings to quell the disturbance.

The Refugee Law prohibited the detention or punishment of asylum seekers for illegal entry or presence, but authorities could detain refugees without documentation and detained one Sudanese refugee traveling without official papers for 24 hours until the U.S. Embassy verified his refugee status, warranting his release. Immigration officials detained two other registered refugees for several days for allegedly trying to leave the country with false passports.

The Refugee Law mandated that refugees should receive identity documents and residence permits, but only 74 asylum seekers received registration numbers and not all received identity documents. Authorities generally respected UNHCR-issued identification cards.

Refugees legally had access to courts but rarely found them effective and generally used traditional dispute resolution mechanisms instead.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

Following the November 2005 Krisan riots, the Government dispatched 40 regional police to the camp and restricted the movement of Sudanese refugees. The police and camp authorities strictly monitored refugees' whereabouts until mid-2006, when they restored refugees' freedom to enter or leave.

Ghana had two refugee camps, Krisan and Buduburam, but generally did not require refugees to live in them. UNHCR provided food aid only to the refugees in Krisan Camp and to 9,500 in Buduburam.

The Constitution allowed the Government to restrict the movement of non-citizens. The 1992 Refugee Law also gave the Minister of Interior the right to designate specific areas for refugees to live.

Refugees from member states of the Economic Community of West African States could also freely travel within other member countries. Refugees from Sudan, Somalia, Congo, and Rwanda, however, could not. The Refugee Law provided for the issuance of international travel documents to refugees, and the Passport Office issued them to those who could prove that they had the means to travel or an offer of employment requiring travel.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

It was very difficult for refugees to work legally in Ghana. They had to have employers sponsor them and apply to the Board to apply to the Immigration Service through the Ministry of Interior for permits. The process took about three months, and most employers were not willing to wait. Companies could also acquire work permits on behalf of refugees but had to pay a fee, and there were quotas on the number of foreigners whom they could employ. Many refugees worked in the informal economy without labor protections or social security. Others engaged in small commercial activity inside camps. Unless refugees had Ghanaian partners, the law treated them as foreigners, and they could open businesses limited by guarantee once they had a mission statement and could fulfill tax requirements.

The Constitution expressly allowed restrictions on non-citizens' economic activities.

Refugees could own moveable property and open bank accounts, but the Constitution categorically barred foreigners from any freehold interest in land or any lease greater than 50 years. Nevertheless, several legal residents leased land for 99-year periods. In Buduburam, some refugees leased property from Ghanaians on build, operate, and transfer agreements. At the end of their timeshare, some landowners threatened to evict them.

Public Relief and Education

UNHCR began phasing out food aid and subsidized services in Buduburam to promote repatriation and, in December, cut its funding for Buduburam's health clinic by two-thirds. By year's end, the camp no longer provided drinking water, and residents had to purchase it from surrounding communities. In November, the UN and Japan pledged to finance micro-enterprise projects to augment crop productivity, sanitation, and vocational training in Krisan. UNHCR also gave limited assistance to Togolese refugees in the Volta Region, who had free access to government-run hospitals and clinics.

UNHCR provided free primary school education for almost all refugees, and some continued on to secondary school. The Ghana Education Service and UNHCR assessed over 40 schools in Buduburam with the goal of closing those considered "sub-standard" and asked 28 to shut down.

The Constitution restricted to citizens its requirement that the Government provide education and social security.

Aid groups had to register with the Government but generally had access to the camps. Following the 2005 Krisan riots, however, the Ministry of Interior restricted access to the camp for several months.

The Refugee Law called for the establishment of a Refugees Fund to aid refugees. The National Development Planning Commission did not include refugees in the 2005 Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy II (2006-2009) it prepared for international donors, except to identify them as a "public safety and security" issue. The Government did not include refugees in adopting its National Youth Policy.

Under the U.S. Millennium Challenge Account, the Government developed a Compact that could potentially benefit refugees involved in the agricultural sectors, but it did not specifically include or aim to assist them.

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