Ghana hosted nearly 15,000 refugees at the end of 1998, including an estimated 13,000 from Liberia, about 1,000 from Togo, and fewer than 1,000 from other countries.
About 11,000 Ghanaian refugees remained in Togo. As many as 20,000 people might have remained internally displaced at year's end.
Refugees from Liberia
Most of the 13,000 or more Liberian refugees fled to Ghana in 1990-91 to escape Liberia's civil war. The vast majority lived at Buduburam, a camp about 40 km (25 miles) from Accra, the capital. The camp was essentially a small town with concrete houses, about 20 churches, and some electricity. Other refugees lived on their own in the capital or in Krisan, a smaller camp that also housed several hundred refugees of other nationalities.
More than 2,000 Liberians refugees repatriated from Ghana with UNHCR assistance during the year. Several thousand other Liberians spontaneously returned home on their own. Refugees who registered to repatriate received transportation and a standard aid package that included food rations, plastic sheeting, water cans, blankets, and foam mattresses.
During their years in exile, many Liberian refugees acquired household possessions such as beds, chairs, refrigerators, and freezers. Some complained that UNHCR's cargo limit of 70 kg (150 lbs.) per repatriating refugee would deprive them of belongings needed to reintegrate in Liberia.
In April, the Ghanaian government announced its intent to close Buduburam camp by year's end. The Liberian ambassador to Ghana appealed to refugees remaining in Ghana to return home to help rebuild their country. However, at the end of 1998, more than 12,000 Liberians remained in Buduburam camp.
Some refugees expressed reluctance to repatriate because Liberia lacked schools, jobs, and guarantees of security in their homes areas. Ethnic Krahn particularly feared persecution under Liberia's new government resulting from civil war rivalries.
Refugees from Togo
About 1,000 Togolese refugees remained in Ghana at year's end. Most arrived in 1993 with an influx of more than 100,000 Togolese refugees who fled their government's violent resistance to democratic reforms. The overwhelming majority settled into Ghanaian villages and rural areas.
A general amnesty for Togolese refugees in 1994 and relative improvement in the political and security situation in Togo in subsequent years led to the large-scale return of Togolese refugees under a UNHCR-organized repatriation program completed in mid-1997.
In 1998, 4,000 Togolese refugees repatriated from Ghana, according to UNHCR. Most of the Togolese who remained in Ghana at year's end were prominent opponents of Togo's ruling party and were unlikely to repatriate.
A U.S. Department of State report on human rights conditions expressed concern regarding credible allegations "that agents of the Togo government operating in Ghana and sometimes pretending to be refugees, repeatedly induced Ghanaian police to arrest Togolese refugees and deliver them to Togolese security forces at the border, without due process of law and reportedly without the knowledge of senior Ghanaian security officials."
An outbreak of inter-ethnic conflict in rural northern Ghana in 1994-95 destroyed more than 300 villages, left several thousand dead, and forced more than 100,000 persons from their homes. More than 12,000 fled to neighboring Togo. The violence was linked to land disputes dating from pre-colonial times between members of different ethnic groups.
Although most uprooted families returned to their homes, as many as 20,000 may have remained internally displaced at year's end.
Approximately 1,000 Ghanian refugees returned home spontaneously during July-September. At year's end, about 11,000 Ghanian refugees remained in northern Togo. Largely self-sufficient, they were not expected to repatriate.