Viewing cable 04ACCRA1921
Title: UNHCR SIGNS REPATRIATON AGREEMENT FOR LIBERIAN REFUGEES IN

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
04ACCRA19212004-09-23 16:47:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Accra
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

231647Z Sep 04

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FM AMEMBASSY ACCRA
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6962
INFO AMEMBASSY MONROVIA 
AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN 
USMISSION GENEVA 
AMEMBASSY CONAKRY 
AMEMBASSY FREETOWN 
ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS  ACCRA 001921 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
C O R R E C T E D  C O P Y (ADDED CAPTION) 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PREF PREL PHUM GH LI
SUBJECT:  UNHCR SIGNS REPATRIATON AGREEMENT FOR LIBERIAN REFUGEES IN 
GHANA; REPORT OF FIRST DARFUR REFUGEES 
 
 
¶1.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  The United Nations High Commission for Refugees 
(UNHCR), the GOG, and the Government of Liberia signed a landmark 
agreement on September 22 in Accra, providing for the voluntary 
repatriation of Liberian refugees living in Ghana. Unlike the flawed 
repatriation attempted during the 1990's, prospects for a more 
durable solution for these Liberian refugees now appear brighter. 
We expect few Liberians living in Ghana to repatriate immediately, 
though improving conditions, particularly in the eastern Liberian 
counties, could eventually lead to a larger exodus.  Visiting UNHCR 
Assistant High Commissioner told Emboffs he favored continuing with 
resettlement of Liberian refugees from Ghana in tandem with 
voluntary repatriation.  There have also been media reports of some 
60 refugees from Darfur, Sudan, entering Ghana.  END SUMMARY. 
 
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Come On Home 
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¶2.  (U) Officials representing the UNHCR, GOG, and GOL signed a 
repatriation agreement on September 22 that proffers a legal and 
operational framework for the orderly, voluntary return of Liberian 
refugees.    Both UNHCR and the International Organization for 
Migration (IOM) will assist with logistics, with most refugees in 
Ghana expected to travel by boat.  UNHCR will provide food, basic 
household items, and tools to refugees upon arrival in Liberia, 
while the GOL will assist with the recovery of property and the re- 
certification of academic credentials. 
 
¶3.  (SBU)  The agreement is the culmination of many months of 
speculation that have left some refugees apprehensive, since many 
remember the failed repatriation attempts of the 1990's.  This time, 
UNHCR is striving for a better organized, more deliberate 
repatriation.  UNHCR reps told poloff and RefCoord that the UNHCR 
plans to sign similar repatriation agreements with Sierra Leone and 
Cote D'Ivoire within the next week.  UNHCR is also planning to sign 
repatriation memoranda of understanding with other West African 
countries hosting large numbers of Liberians.  This would form part 
of UNHCR's assisted repatriation of up to 29,000 refugees from 
throughout West Africa over the next three months. 
 
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Resettlement to Continue 
------------------------ 
 
¶4.  (SBU)  Visiting UN Assistant High Commissioner for Refugees 
Kamel Morjane told Emboffs that he favored the continuation of 
resettlement efforts while the repatriation was underway, although 
he acknowledged this matter had been a subject of intense internal 
debate during his visit here.  He hoped for USG cooperation in 
establishing more transparent criteria for resettlement in the U.S., 
noting that any refugee in his right mind with hopes of living in 
the U.S. would never opt for repatriation to Liberia.  He and UNHCR 
Ghana representative Thomas Albrecht (protect) said they would not 
want to guess how many Liberians in Ghana would initially seek 
repatriation, although UNHCR has estimated the number at 2,700, in 
addition to 300 who would repatriate on their own without 
assistance.  Morjane expected many refugees to be reticent to 
repatriate in light of their concerns over security in Liberia, 
schooling for their children, health, and the ability to earn a 
livelihood.  However, Albrecht was somewhat more hopeful, saying 
that Liberian refugees in Ghana are cautious but eager to return 
home. 
 
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Trickle of Darfur Refugees in Ghana 
----------------------------------- 
 
¶5.  (SBU) Meanwhile, a trickle of refugees from other countries, 
principally Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire has been arriving in Ghana at 
the rate of about 50 per week for the past several weeks.  According 
to the September 21 Ghana Times, some 60 refugees from Sudan's 
Darfur region arrived in Ghana this week.  A member of the Ghana 
Refugee Board confirmed to Refcoord that the GOG has given them 
temporary shelter.  Some Sudanese and Ivorian refugees have settled 
provisionally at the predominantly Liberian Budumburam refugee camp 
west of Accra, while others have opted for the predominantly Sierra 
Leonan camp of Krisna, in Ghana's southwestern corner.  While the 
UNHCR has assumed initial responsibility for them, the newly 
reconstituted Ghana Refugee Board will determine whether these new 
arrivals qualify for refugee status.  Morjane told Emboffs that 
Ghana's reputation for stability was probably the main drawing card 
for these refugees.  While the Ivorians arrive overland or by boat 
with little difficulty, the Sudanese head south on foot, often aided 
by sympathetic truck drivers and immigration control officers along 
their arduous journey. 
 
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COMMENT 
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¶6.  (SBU) Most Ghanaians will probably welcome the repatriation 
agreement.  Many people here - and most government officials - 
regard the Liberian refugees as an unsustainable burden and there 
are some concerns about criminality among Liberian refugees. 
Nonetheless, there is not significant pressure to be rid of the 
Liberian refugees.  According to Morjane, Ghana's Minister of 
Interior told him before the public signing ceremony that, while he 
would have to make some public criticism of the presence of Liberian 
refugees here, he saw these Liberians as "brothers" whom Ghana had 
to help.  The Ghanaian Times feature editorial on September 22 cited 
the reported arrival of Darfur refugees as "certainly 
startling.their arrival has forcefully brought Darfur to our 
doorstep." Nonetheless, the editorial did not raise concerns about 
the presence of these refugees here, noting that, together with the 
signing of the Liberian repatriation agreement on UN International 
Peace Day, they serve as "a reminder to every Ghanaian of the 
necessity of maintaining the relative peace and stability in the 
country."  Some observers point out that these refugees require few 
government services and generate business for local shops.  Over the 
near term, we anticipate little enthusiasm among Ghana's 42,000- 
strong Liberian community for repatriation, since most of them hail 
from eastern counties that have not yet been declared safe. Most of 
the initial tranche of Liberians voluntarily repatriating are more 
likely to come from other countries in the region. 
 
LANIER 
 
 
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