The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, has clarified recent claims by some Liberian refugees that they are no longer protected by the agency.
Describing the claims as “erroneous”, UNHCR said the majority of refugees ceased from being recognized as such in 2012.
“With the cessation of their refugee status five years ago, except the 350 Liberians exempted from the cessation and still considered refugees, UNHCR does not consider as persons of concern or in need of international protection the former Liberian refugees who did not opt for either a voluntary repatriation to their country of origin or local integration in Ghana,” said Ioli Kimyaci, UNHCR Representative in Ghana.
“We concentrate our efforts on the 13,506 refugees currently in Ghana,” she adds.
A statement issued by the agency said changes in Liberia precipitated a cessation of the refugee status.
“Among the durable solutions made available to them, voluntary repatriation, and local integration were proposed, as well as resettlement to third countries for the few most vulnerable families – and only when the two other solutions were not possible.
“Following the fundamental and durable changes that had taken place in Liberia, a cessation of refugee status took place on 30 June 2012, recognising that the circumstances in connexion with which they have been recognized as refugees have ceased to exist.”
It said the exercise was done in collaboration with the Ghana Refugees Board and the Ministry of Interior to the extent that “concerned individuals” were duly notified.
Counselling was also provided, the statement said.
“The end of the refugee status consequently means former Liberian refugees residing in Ghana are no longer under the umbrella of UNHCR, and do not qualify any more for durable solutions, including resettlement to a third country which was limited to a few and most vulnerable families.”