Dzirasah urges Ivorian Government to invite refugees in Ghana home

Mr Kenneth Dzirasah, Chairman of Ghana Refugee Board, answering questions posed by journalists.

The Ivorian Government has been advised to create a congenial atmosphere that would generate confidence in her refugees currently seeking shelter in Ghana to return home.

Mr Kenneth Dzirasah, Chairman of Ghana Refugee Board, who gave the advice on Friday, stressed that the move had become necessary in the wake of dwindling resources from the international community in support of refugees.

He was speaking at Aveyime-Battor in the Volta Region where Prairie Volta Limited (PVL) donated 400 bags of 25-kilogramme rice worth GH¢20,400 to support the United Nations System’s (UN System) humanitarian assistance in Ghana.

Mr Dzirasah said a tripartite committee, made up of representatives from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Cote d’Ivoire, had been formed to facilitate the repatriation of Ivoirians.

He disclosed that Ghana was gradually struggling to sustain herself, stressing that the earlier they (Ivorian refugees) returned the better.

Currently Ghana is playing host to 11,000 refugees from 21 countries including Sudan, Eritrea, Iraq, and Liberia, with Ivoirians being the largest collection of the refugee population in the country.

Mr Dzirasah expressed gratitude to the management of PVL for their kind gesture.

Mr John Vandyke-Mensah, Managing Partner of PVL, underscored the need to look into the local market for rice supply, adding that there was no need for Ghana to import rice from the Far East.

Mr John Vandyke-Mensah, Managing Partner of Prairie Volta Limited (second from right), handing over a bag of rice to Madam Sharon Cooper, UNHCR Country Representative (second left). With her is Mr Nguyen Duc Hoang, Head of World Food Programme.

He told journalists that the company, which was a Ghanaian farming and agro processing company with 30 per cent of government ownership, had targeted to produce 10,000 tonnes of rice, next year.

Mr Vandyke-Mensah expressed optimism that the company, that currently cultivated rice on a 750-hectare of plot, would produce 8,000 tonnes for 2012.

Madam Sharon Cooper, UNHCR Country Representative, received the items on behalf of the UN System.

Presently, the UN System in Ghana is said to be facing severe funding and food shortage for refugees.

It estimates that food supply for refugees could cease by mid-year 2012 if urgent resourcing was not secured.

The UN System had therefore, embarked on a Food Drive programme to seek donor support to secure food aid for refugees in the country.

It works with the government through the Ghana Refugee Board to co-ordinate international protection and the delivery of humanitarian assistance to asylum seekers and refugees in the country.

There are four refugee camps in the country, Agyeikrom in the Central Region; Ampain and Eagle Star Reception Centre, both in the Western Region and Fetentaa in Brong Ahafo Region.

The UNHCR announced that without urgent resourcing, food assistance for refugees would end in June 2012.

The PVL’s presentation to the UN System therefore makes it a historic private sector response to the call for support.

The UN estimates that the supplies would feed 1,100 refugees for a month. GNA

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