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General News Thu, 15 Jun 2006

Refugees Day marked

Accra, June 15, GNA - Ghana would continue to open her doors to refugees in the spirit of African Unity and brotherliness but would not compromise on security, Minister of the Interior, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah said on Wednesday.

He said Ghana would fulfil this responsibility not only as a humanitarian obligation as enshrined in the African Union Refugee's Convention but also in the spirit of the traditional Ghanaians hospitality.

Mr Kan-Dapaah, who was speaking at a ceremony to mark the World Refugees Day in Accra, noted that hosting displaced people was at a great cost that could not be quantified in monetary terms. He appealed to the country=92s development partners for assistance in catering for refugees.

Mr Kan-Dapaah recalled the destruction of property worth one billion cedis at the Krisan Refugee Settlement last year by refugees, saying it was unacceptable for them to take the law into their hands and embark on senseless destruction of property. "Refugees, like any other persons in the country, have an obligation to respect our laws just as they expect to be accorded protection under the laws of Ghana and that any refugee, who breaks the law, will be dealt with as nationals are treated." Mr Kan-Dapaah urged the refugees to reciprocate the hospitality accorded them by being worthy ambassadors of their countries of origin while in Ghana.

He urged them to spend their time to learn skills as well as educate themselves in their areas of interest so as to make meaningful contributions to their countries when they returned. He said this year=92s celebration on the theme "Hope" was in the right direction as no group of people would remain refugees forever and urged the international community to be mindful of their obligation in ensuring that sustainable peace returned to conflict zones. In a speech read on behalf of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Antonio Guterres, he said the perseverance of refugees inspired their work to do everything to find solutions they could get to better their lives.

=93These solutions include voluntary repatriation to their homeland once conditions improve or if possible integration in the country of first asylum or resettlement to a third country"' he noted. Mr Guterres said the prospect of such solutions enabled refugees to maintain their hope for a better future adding that over the past 55 years UNHCR and its partners had helped more than 50 million uprooted people to re-start their lives and that work continued in more than 100 countries.

He noted that more than five million refugees had been in exile for five years or longer and some of them for decades, therefore, keeping the hope alive was the responsibility of everyone including international leaders, who should be doing more to address these situation as well as the root causes of conflicts and displacement. World Refugee Day is a period set aside by the UN to honour refugees and displaced people all over the world, who on the strength of hope have overcome enormous odds to start rebuilding their lives. It also marks a moment of assessing the refugee situation and mapping out strategies to deal with problems in the years ahead.

Source: GNA