General News Mon, 9 May 2005

Visa Fraud Alert

Liberian Refugees in Ghana are accusing the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) of diverting their resettlement visas to Europe and the United States of America to Ghanaians.

The refugees are specifically accusing Mr Joedafi, the IOM official who is in charge of selecting refugees for resettlement in western countries of diverting their vacancies to Ghanaians to travel to Norway and the United States of America. Hell nearly broke lose last Friday at the Budumburam Camp when officials of the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) visited the camp to ascertain the veracity of alleged visa deals involving some of the leaders of the camp and their Ghanaians co-conspirators.

But when Public Agenda reached the UNHCR for its side of the story, the Public Information Officer, Needa Jehu-Hoyah explained that the UNHCR has no authority over resettlement cases. "Generally, it is the immigration authorities of a resettlement country who take the final decision on whether someone will be accepted for resettlement", she said and refuted allegations of bias in the selection. When questioned about the six Liberians who were refused to board an airplane to the United States three weeks ago although they had secured all necessary documents to travel, Needa expressed surprise at the news.

She explained that, at any stage of the resettlement process, representatives of either resettlement countries or UNHCR interview refugees. "Misrepresenting facts concerning yourself, your family or your reasons for flight at any point in the process may result in the rejection of a case for resettlement and it is more likely that this might be what befell the six refugees in the case."

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