The UN Resident Coordinator in Ghana, Mr. Charles Abani, has called on Ivorian refugees in Ghana not to think of how to resist the upcoming Cessation of status but to think of meaningful ways to engage with partners to find durable solutions to their problems.
He spoke during an interaction with the leadership of the Ivorian refugee community in the Ampain Camp during a familiarization visit.
The 72nd session of the Executive Committee (ExCom) of the High Commissioner’s Programme in Geneva last week recommended the Cessation of refugee status for Ivorian refugees effective from 30 June 2022. UNHCR and partners have been engaging the Ivorian refugee community to understand the durable solutions options available to them and make informed choices for their future.
Mr. Abani indicated that the process of determining the Cessation of refugee status is complex but precise, and different actors will interpret it differently for themselves. He admitted that it is usually a difficult period for displaced people as they must make critical decisions that affect the future of their families. He, however, indicated that once the decision to evoke Cessation has been made, it is up to everyone to decide how to react to that decision, as changing it will be almost impossible.
“The advice I give to everyone is to consider how this decision will affect you. Not because of how it will affect you, therefore how you should resist it, but how you should engage on what options there are and the implications of each option” Mr. Charles Abani
“The question you should ask yourself is if I stay for another two years, what am I going to do, what kind of support, what kind of skills do I need? If I have children whose schooling will be impacted, how do I work through those issues? If I wish to go home, how can I be put back in touch with family members whom I’ve lost touch with to start the process of rebuilding on the other side? What documentation do I need? very practical things,” he told the refugee leaders.
Sharing his personal experience of displacement, Mr. Abani narrated how he became a displaced child between 1968-1972 during the Nigerian Biafra war, becoming a beneficiary of essential food aid, and how he later transitioned to be a distributor of food aid by working with Oxfam. He further called on world leaders to be mindful of the untold impact of some of the bad decisions they make, leading to conflicts and displacements.
UNHCR Country Representative Ms. Esther Kiragu, for her part, urged those who can return home to start organizing themselves because, after June 2022, Ivorian refugees cease to be refugees. “The decision to invoke Cessation has been confirmed by the ExCom in Geneva this week. Let us not invest our energies on things we cannot change and focus on how best to implement the available options” Ms. Kiragu said.
“End of refugee status is not the end of life, but the beginning of a new chapter, and UNHCR will support you the best way it can in this process leading to Cessation” Ms. Esther Kiragu.
Some refugees, however, insisted resettlement is the only durable solution for them at this time. “For those calling for resettlement, as we have always told you, resettlement is not in our hands. It is in the hands of the resettlement countries, and they are guided by the situation back in your home country,” she told them.
According to data available to UNHCR, there are currently approximately 91,000 Ivorian refugees and asylum seekers around the world. Some 51,000 live in West Africa – with 33,000 in Liberia alone — and a further 22,000 in Europe
The Resident Coordinator, who was accompanied on his visit by the UN Security Advisor, Christophe Ky, took a tour of some UNHCR facilities in both Ampain and Krisan Camps and interacted with some camp residents.
The team also paid a courtesy call on the Chief of Ampain, Nana Nyameke Fofole II, where the RC expressed the profound gratitude of the United Nations for the hospitality of the Ampain people for hosting refugees for the past decade and living in harmony with them.
Nana Nyameke Fofole II, for his part, lauded UNHCR and partners for expanding the infrastructure in the host community, which has enabled the absorption of refugees in existing services along with their hosts. The diverse projects that UNHCR has supported in the community benefit the refugees and the host community.
“As I always say, we have not regretted hosting refugees in this community. We live together with them as one family,” said Nana Fofole II.
Nana Fofole II took the opportunity to request support for a community water project in the community.