Part of efforts at strengthening community-based protection in urban areas
Refugees living in the urban areas had the opportunity of meeting with staff of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in Ghana, the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB) and the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) at a zonal community outreach program which took place in various parts of the Greater Accra Region where most refugees reside. The goal was to strengthen community-based protection through community participation and strong leadership groups. The outreaches were attended by more than 1,000 urban Refugees and Asylum Seekers.
The outreach event also created an opportunity for staff to interact with the refugee communities to explain various services available to urban refugees while taking time to address some of the concerns and challenges confronting them in their day to day lives in the various communities they live.
To further enhance integration of refugee issues at the various Municipal and District levels and ensure refugees benefit from the decentralized government services, the outreaches brought together officials of the Municipal and District Assemblies who expressed delight to work in partnership with UNHCR and its Partners to include issues of refugees in their programming. Zonal Electoral Committees were also formed during the meetings to facilitate upcoming election of leaders who are expected to work with the UNHCR and its Partners including the Municipal and District Assemblies.
Sharing her impressions about the outreach event, Ms. Marie Mbumba, a Congolese refugee in Ghana said she was very excited about the meeting as it served a good opportunity for refugees to voice out their concerns.
“This is a good thing and should be happening more often. There are still people in Ghana who don’t understand who refugees are” Ms. Mbumba
She lauded the involvement of local authorities in such meetings which she said will go a long way in further helping more Ghanaians to know about refugees.
Antoine Avissey, an Ivorian refugee living in Accra said such meetings are good as it serves an ideal platform to discuss some of their major concerns in the community. He indicated how he had had challenges in the past with opening a bank account amongst other things as a refugee. He expressed the hope that subsequent meetings will include some of the key service providers such as the telcos and banks so refugees can directly put forward their issues to them for redress.
A Liberian refugee living in Ghana since 1997, Ms. Rina Regina Bengtsen for her part indicated she was happy about the opportunity for refugees to connect with each other and network. She was particularly excited about the opportunities being made available at the Blue Oasis Community Centre for refugees in the urban area which serves a safe space for them, adding she was looking forward to the numerous upcoming livelihood and business enhancement activities being planned for them.
“They talked about exhibitions, you can come here, bring your products for sale. The educational aspects for our children to learn. All these are good. We really appreciate that” Ms. Rina Bengtsen.
Community Based Protection Approach is a way of working in partnership with persons of concern. It recognizes the resilience, capacities, and skills of persons of concern (POC) and builds on them to deliver protection and solutions. This approach to protection is an essential tool to deliver protection to as many persons of concern as possible. This also requires the establishment of leadership structures and networks while linking up refugee leadership networks to District and Municipal Authorities to enable PoC access essential services.