Counsellor Grah addressing some Liberians going through the passport renewal session at Buduburam
Liberia’s Deputy Minister for Legal Affairs, Counsellor Deweh Grah has welcomed an initiative by UNHCR Ghana to support the renewal of passports and residence permits of over 2,000 Liberians who have been in the process of local integration in Ghana since 2012.
In an interaction with some of the Liberians -formerly refugees in Ghana- who were in Buduburam to have their passports and residence permits renewed, Counsellor Grah urged them to make good use of whatever livelihoods activities they were engaged in to be able to fend for themselves. “I want you all to get the message that this is the final support. There is a cut-off point to what UNHCR, and Partners can do, and this is the final” she told the crowd while urging them to take advantage of what Ghana has to offer and move on with their lives.
She praised UNHCR’s efforts at going the extra mile to ensuring the former refugees have appropriate legal documentation to regularize their stay in Ghana under immigration laws.
The 5-week exercise was carried out by a combined Team from the Liberia Refugee Repatriation Resettlement Commission (LRRRC), the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Liberia, Ghana Immigration Service, Ghana Refugee Board and staff of UNHCR Ghana.
in 2012 when cessation took effect for Liberian refugees, the beneficiaries were issued Liberian passports and 2 years residence permits. However, this was too short a time for them to integrate and stand on their own feet. UNHCR with the support of the Governments of Ghana and Liberia facilitated this latest extension of residence permits and renewal of passports for another 5 years, by which time they are expected to be fully integrated in Ghana.
Senior Operations Coordinator in charge of Solutions for UNHCR Ghana, Ms. Magda Medina said the exercise is the continuation of pursuing legal pathways for Liberians who have been in the process of integration in Ghana.
“We see this as the continuation of the Local Integration which started in 2012. Now we are supporting them to renew their passports, a prerequisite, to receive 5 years residence permits after which they qualify to apply for an indefinite residence permit in Ghana as stated by the law” she explained.
Ms. Medina was grateful to the Team from Liberia and other Partners for the support towards a fruitful exercise.
Senior Protection Officer at Ghana Refugee Board (GRB), Mathias Alagbo, expressed the GRB’s commitment to ensure the safety and protection of Liberians in Ghana for which reason they are happy for the effort to get them the required legal documents to continue their stay in Ghana legally.
One of the beneficiaries, Christiana Gborlee could not hide her excitement.
I was wondering where to get money to renew my expired documents. Now I feel very relieved and very confident
she said adding “should anybody stop me on the streets to check my documentation, I do have valid documents” said Christi who has been in Ghana since the early 1990s and accepted to be locally integrated. She braids hair for a living and says she does not see herself going back to Liberia as she has built her family and business here.
About 4,000 Liberian refugees in Ghana who opted for local integration as a Durable Solution (when cessation came into effect for Liberian refugees in 2012) This final support to renew their passports and residence permits for 5 years covered about 2,000 of them who made themselves available.