My attention has been drawn to a Ghanaweb publication (General News of Friday, 24 May 2019) under the above caption indicating that “the Head of the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB) has cautioned government to be circumspect in dealing with the recent surge in cross-border movements of Burkinabes into Ghana”.
From the onset, the title of the article is a misnomer. As head of the Refugee Board, I will not describe a group of people who have crossed the border to another country as Refugees. If the people have expressed intention to seek asylum in the country, then they qualify as Asylum Seekers. The GRB will then register them as such to become Persons of Concern (PoC) and begin the process of extensive assessments to be considered as Refugees.
In this particular instance of reference, about 300-500 Burkinabes have crossed over to the Sisala district and lodged with their kinsfolks of the Moshie heritage. The people are mainly farmers who were displaced by terrorist activities in Burkina Faso. Following an age-long traditional practice, they relocated and requested land to continue their farming activities in sesame and maize crop production. At the end of the farming season, royalties are paid to the landowners.
The GRB, in collaboration with the UNHCR, will send a joint team to the area next week (May 29, 2019) for verification and firsthand information. The team will assist the people to meet their needs, and if requests are made to seek asylum, these will be addressed accordingly. Given the terrorist dimension of the cause of displacement, the security agencies were readily available on the ground to screen the people and determine the authenticity of the claims and requests.
In a nutshell, this is the gist of the interview granted which should not be construed in any manner as a caution to the government, and wariness about Refugees from neighboring countries.
Ghana has a very progressive asylum policy, and anyone seeking refuge is provided the necessary care, assistance and protection under the Ghana Refugee Law and appropriate UN conventions and protocols.
By: Dr. Kofi V. Anani
Ghana Refugee Board
May 24, 2019