– A safe space for refugee skills development and livelihood activities
UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Ghana has opened a new Refugee Community Center in Accra as part of activities marking World Refugee Day 2021. The center is to serve as a safe public space where refugees of diverse backgrounds can meet for skills development, livelihood activities, information exchange and recreation among others.
Named -BLUE OASIS- the center which is in the heart of the city in Accra is to assist in empowering refugees both economically and socially in building their leadership skills which serves as an important community-based protection tool. The center is fully furnished with an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) lab, library, career counseling facility to help build skills of refugees, an exhibition area for refugee businesses and a recreation space all of which will help build the economic resilience of refugees..
UNHCR Country Representative, Ms. Esther Kiragu noted the center will enhance the socio-economic integration of refugees.
“The idea is to empower the refugees, so they are able to go out there to compete with the rest of the world. It is for them to know how to package themselves for example in CV writing, basic ICT skills etc and a place for network. Having access to these is a step in the right direction” Ms. Kiragu
Ms. Kiragu explained why the name Blue Oasis was chosen. “Blue aligns with our brand and all its attributes and the values we stand for as an organization. An oasis is a haven, which is what this center is about” she noted.
She also acknowledged the Government of Ghana, the Ghana Refugee Board and Partners, the UN Country Team, the Private Sector and Donors for working together for the betterment of the lives of refugees in Ghana.
Ghana hosts at least 3000 out of camp refugees and asylum seekers in Accra who are living in diverse locations in the city which challenges efforts to reach out to all and establish strong refugee community ties. The refugee community center will provide a safe space for refugees to gather and exchange ideas and concerns and act as a catalyst for initiatives and innovations by refugees.
An exhibition of refugee crafts and artifacts was mounted where refugees showcased beautiful products, they have made including masks, clothes, art works among others.
In his remarks, Acting Executive Secretary of the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB), Mr. Tetteh Padi said refugees have continued to contribute to the local economy and served as agents of development in the various host communities they live in over the years.
He mentioned government’s support by way of including refugees in national social services. “In education, schools in refugee hosting camps are run by the Ghana Education Service, just as health facilities are incorporated into the Ghana Health Service” he noted.
He thanked UNHCR for the continuous support. He indicated that the GRB with funding from UNHCR in 2020 alone completed projects worth of 7 million cedis including schools, infectious disease centers, police stations and markets in refugee camps and host communities which benefit not just the refugees but the host communities as well.
World Refugee Day is observed on June 20 each year to acknowledge the experiences of the millions of people forced to flee violence and persecution. But it is also a day to celebrate the fact that, with help from welcoming communities and kind neighbors, people can find the strength to heal, rebuild and even thrive. At the end of 2020, over 80 million people were seeking refuge – either across borders or within their own country. This is double the number from a decade ago. Ghana currently hosts about 14,000 refugees and asylum seekers from different countries.
Conflict and persecution have forced millions of people around the world to flee their homes. At the end of 2020, over 80 million people were seeking refuge – either across borders or within their own country. This is double the number from a decade ago. This year on World Refugee Day, UNHCR has called on communities and governments to include them – in health care, education, and sport. Given the chance, refugees will continue to contribute to a stronger, safer, and more vibrant world. UNHCR has called for greater inclusion for the forcibly displaced and stateless people. Together we can achieve anything.
Present at the ceremony were the Kenyan Ambassador to Ghana, H.E Mr. Eliphas Mugendi Barine, IOM Chief of Mission, Ms. Abibatou Wane-Fall, Deputy Representative of UNFPA Ghana, Ms. Agnes Kayitankore.
UNHCR Representative, Ms. Esther Kiragu interacting with refugee exhibitors