Liberia: Government Intervenes In Buduburam Refugee Camp Demolition As Inhabitants Hail Weah’s Administration

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Monrovia – The leadership of several associations on the Buduburam Refugee Camp and Liberians living in Ghana have hailed the role the Government of Liberia played to mitigate the demolition saga that is currently upsetting them in Ghana, stating that the visit made and astute representation by the Foreign Minister of Liberia, Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., in Accra, Ghana was not only timely, commendable, unprecedented and noteworthy, but is a sign that the situation will be amicably resolved in the shortest possible time.

Speaking at a well-attended meeting held by Foreign Minister Kemayah in Ghana with the Leadership of the decommissioned Buduburam Refugee Camp and Liberians living in Ghana on October 4, 2021 following his meeting with his Ghanaian counterpart, H.E. Madam Shirley Ayokor Botchey, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of the Republic of Ghana on the demolition saga affecting Liberians at the Buduburam Camp, the Chairman of the Liberians living in Buduburam, Mr. Dennis Gwion commended the Government of Liberia for their prompt intervention through the visit and excellent representation by Liberia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr.

Mr. Gwion said his leadership has been seeking opportunities with the Government of Liberia, Government of Ghana, UNHCR and others partners in order to settle the long problematic condition Liberian Refugees are faced with in Ghana.

He said initially the Ghanaian government proposed two options to the Liberians living in the camp, which is, one to return to Liberia and two, to integrate into Ghana society.

The head of the Liberians at the Refugee Camps lamented that the Ghanaian authorities did not live up to some part of the agreement presented to them, which is to easily integrate in Ghanaian society.

Mr. Gwion said they are not claiming any land in Ghana, but are asking the authorities to resettle them or allow them to integrate in the Ghanaian society without any hindrance.

Also speaking during the meeting in Ghana with Foreign Minister Kemayah, the head of the United Liberian Association in Ghana, Madam Julia Richards lauded Foreign Minister Kemayah for taking up his time out of his busy schedule to meet with them under such condition, stressing that the engagement of the Government of Ghana by Foreign Minister Kemayah has set a noteworthy pace for a final agreement between the Liberian Refugees in Ghana and the Ghanaian authorities.  

In a related development, the Chairman of the Liberians in Buduburam Camp on behalf of the Liberians in the Camp expressed the best of sentiments to Foreign Minister Kemayah for the invitation to see them and his intervention in the Buduburam Demolition Saga; “I thank and appreciate you Hon. Foreign Minister Kemayah for your invitation to see us and talk as your citizens. Like I said before you during our discussion, you are the first Liberian Government Minister who visited Ghana and said let me hear or want to listen to my people before any other matter. We are grateful to you and the entire Government led by H.E.  President George M. Weah and we pray that you will continue your good work towards your people everywhere in the world. When we left you, a meeting was called to inform the Liberian people about your good works and H.E. President George M. Weah. We will continue to be law abiding citizens. We Liberians are decent people and will continue to be despite our current situation. Please extend our heartfelt greetings to President Weah for thinking about us here at the refugee Camp. We are in prayer with him for his government to succeed. All your citizens were impressed mostly when I quoted you Foreign Minister Kemayah saying “I am not doing you a favor, but this is your right, I was appointed as Foreign Minister by H.E. President Weah to serve him, the country and the Liberian People, and all of you our citizens here in this meeting and in the Buduburam Camp and Ghana are part of the Liberian People I am serving, it is your right, I am not doing any of you any favor, I am doing my job as your Foreign Minister and this is what the Liberian Tax Payers are paying me for, we must give the Liberian People value and added value for their money/taxes being used to pay us”. Our other citizens shared tears during the meeting just for those words from you alone and we want to be grateful to you again sir. First of its kind in our history at Buduburam. I want to say again that since your intervention, our camp is back to its normal life. we are moving freely like before. The atmosphere is conducive and enjoying ourselves as our way of doing thing. Thanks”; the Chairman of the Liberians in Buduburam Camp, Mr. Dennis Gwion not being satisfied with his sentiments of thanks, appreciation and best wishes to Foreign Minister Kemayah during the meeting, expressed and released the above words about Foreign Minister Kemayah following his meeting with the Liberians in Buduburam during which time he provided briefing on his meeting with Foreign Minister Kemayah.

For his part, Foreign Minister Kemayah indicated that he met with the Government of Ghana represented by its Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, H.E. Madam Shirley Ayokor Botchey on the demolition situation affecting Liberians at the Buduburam Camp; emphasizing: I’m meeting with the Leadership of the Liberians in the Buduburam Camp and Liberians living in Ghana; all these meetings and efforts are in representation of His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia; and pursuant to His Excellency President Weah’s mandate, and aimed at finding an amicable and lasting solution to the demolition situation affecting our Liberian Citizens in Buduburam. As a Government, we are very much concerned about this; whatever affects you – our Liberian Citizens; whether at home in Liberia; or in Ghana or anywhere in the World for that matter; affects us; as well; while we are in solidarity and empathy with you; we urge all of you – our Citizens to please continue to remain law abiding in Buduburam, and in Ghana as whole; constructive engagement must at all times be the path in finding solution to the situation in Buduburam or any problem and anywhere for that matter”; Foreign Minister Kemayah stressed to the Leadership of several associations on the Buduburam Refugee Camp and Liberians living in Ghana. 

Foreign Minister Kemayah emphasized to the Leadership of the associations on the Buduburam Refugee Camp and Liberians living in Ghana that His Excellency Dr. George Manneh Weah, President of the Republic of Liberia is deeply concerned about their situation in Ghana and wants to see a harmonious resolution of the situation between his citizens and our Ghanaian counterparts.

The Liberian Foreign Minister informed the Liberian Community in Ghana during their meeting that His Excellency President Weah and his Government are very much sensitive to the situation of Liberians in Ghana, stressing that this is why he Foreign Minister Kemayah accompanied by other government officials attending the ECOWAS Council of Ministers Meeting in Accra let go their lunch to meet with the Leadership of the Liberians in Buduburam Camp and Liberians living in Ghana in order to find a way out of the situation.

Meanwhile, on the margins of the Extraordinary Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers on Institutional Reforms held in Accra, Ghana, Foreign Minister Kemayah met with his Ghanaian counterpart, H.E. Shirley Ayokor Botchey to discuss issues affecting Liberians living in the Buduburam Camp. H.E. Shirley Ayokor Botchey is the current Chair of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers.

Foreign Minister Kemayah informed the Government of Ghana through Ghana’s Foreign Minister of the concerns; and desire of the Liberians residing in Buduburam Camp; especially in relation to the security and protection of the Liberians and the demolition of the Camp. Foreign Minister Kemayah further informed Ghana’s Foreign Minister of the strong desire of the Government of Liberia based on the directive of His Excellency President Weah to work with the Government of Ghana and the Liberians residing in the Buduburam Camp in Ghana for an amicable resolution to the situation in the Buduburam Camp in Ghana. During the meeting with his Ghanaian Colleague Foreign Minister Kemayah proposed that the two Foreign Ministers of Ghana and Liberia along with the relevant authorities in the two Countries having the mandate for refugees and dealing with the situation of the Liberians in Buduburam should subsequently meet in Accra, Ghana ahead of the extended December 1, 2021 deadline to take a detailed look into the planned demolition of the Buduburam Camp and the situation of the Liberians living in Buduburam and other refugee related Liberians living in Ghana with the aim of finding a lasting and win-win solution.

Ghana’s Foreign Minister Botchey affirmed to Foreign Minister Kemayah and Delegation that the Government of Ghana has extended the deadline for the demolition of the Buduburam Camp from September 30, 2021 to December 1, 2021 as a result of the intervention of the Government of Liberia. The Ghanaian Foreign Minister assured the Liberian Foreign Minister and his Delegation that Liberians at the Buduburam Camp in Ghana are free to go about their normal businesses/activities and would be protected as Ghana extended residence at the camp until December 1, 2021. The Foreign Minister of Ghana urged the Liberians at the Camp to continue to be law abiding.

Ghanaian Foreign Minister Botchey welcomed and accepted the proposal of Foreign Minister Kemayah for the two Foreign Ministers of Ghana and Liberia along with the relevant authorities in the two Countries having the mandate for refugees and dealing with the situation of the Liberians in Buduburam to subsequently meet in Accra, Ghana ahead of the extended December 1, 2021 deadline to take a detailed look into the planned demolition of the Buduburam Camp and the situation of the Liberians living in Buduburam and other refugee related Liberians living in Ghana with the aim of finding an amicable, lasting and a win-win solution.

The Ghanaian Foreign Minister concluded by informing Foreign Minister Kemayah and his delegation that the decision for the pending demolition and closure of the Buduburam Camp was based on Ghana’s concern about persistent reports of security related issues emanating from the camp.

Foreign Minister Kemayah on behalf of His Excellency President Weah and the Government and People of Liberia expressed Liberia’s appreciation to the Government and People of the Republic of Ghana for extending the deadline for the demolition of Buduburam Camp to December 1, 2021, protecting Liberian residents in the Buduburam Camp and Ghana in general, and for welcoming and accepting his proposal for a high-level visit of a Liberian delegation to be headed by Foreign Minister Kemayah to hammer out outstanding matters affecting the Liberians at the Buduburam Camp and its pending demolition. The Liberian delegation to Ghana will include the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Liberia and the Executive Director of the Liberia Refugees, Repatriation and Resettlement Commission.

It can be recalled that the Ghanaian authorities gave a deadline of September 30, 2021 for Liberians to vacate the Camp in Buduburam. However, through the intervention of Foreign Minister Kemayah on behalf of the Government of Liberia, a new deadline of December 1, 2021 has been given to Liberians living in the Bududuram Camp.

In attendance with H.E. Amb. Dee-Maxwell Saah Kemayah, Sr., Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Liberia at the meeting were Dr. Samora Wolokollie, Deputy Minister for Fiscal Affairs, Ministry of Finance and Development Planning; Dr. Al Hassan Conteh, Liberia’s Ambassador to Nigeria; Mr. Alieu Massaquoi, Chargé d’Affaires at Liberia’s Embassy in Ghana, Hon. Vafolay Tulay, Commissioner for General Administration and Conference at the ECOWAS Commission from the Government of Liberia, while Mr. Dennis Gwion, Chairman of the Liberians Living in Buduburam, Mrs. Mary Desuah, Mrs. Julia Richards, Head of the United Liberian Association in Ghana, Mr. Francis Knowlden and Mr. Rancy Quiah represented the several associations on the Buduburam Refugee Camp and Liberians living in Ghana.

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