Welcome to HEARTHS, where our mission and purpose is to HElp African Refugees To Help themSelves
Life on the Buduburam refugee camp.
By Lemuel Tayler in Ghana, the director of HEARTHS in Ghana.
Liberian Refugees residing in Ghana fled their country during the acute Civil War in Liberia 1989 to 1996 and as well as the second Brutal civil war face “Two fought” between 1999 and 2003. However, there are other refugees from Sierra Leone, who absconded from the devastations of the civil war 1991 to 2001 in Sierra Leone. Liberian Refugees camp (also known as Buduburam refugee’s camp) was established in 1990 to accommodate the arrival of Liberian refugees who fled to Ghana during the brutal bloody war in Liberia. Initially, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) provided the settlement’s residents with individual aid and relief to the poor Refugees. However, in June 2012, Liberian refugees lost their refugees status. This means that UNHCR from that time had discontinued rendering supply of food and other basic human needs to Liberian refugees in Ghana.
In time past, approximately 42,000 refugees lived on the camp but some have gotten privileged to resettle in the USA and western countries and other who had families back home returned to Liberia, nearly 20 years after the start of Liberia’s long civil war. But some refugees who have lost everything back home are finding it difficult to return. This situation is unbearable as it concerns refugee’s issues.
Living on the refugee camp is difficult, especially for single parents (widows) who lost their husband during the civil war in Liberia. Many refugees here are suffering and need urgent aid from donors since the UNHCR and other International NGOs has discontinued supplying refugees with basic human needs that would improve on the living condition.
Since 2007, after the general election in Liberia, the UNHCR limited their support of food supply to the vast majority of Liberian on the refugee’s camp. This however was clearly evident in June 2012 when the United Nation High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) finally discontinued assisting refugees on the Buduram refugee’s camp, where approximately 3,000 refuges now live.
The situation becomes more complex for refugees who do not have the opportunity to work and generate money for feeding and cater to other basic needs. This also is a difficult situation for parents who have large family members. Some parents do not afford a daily meal and therefore, they lost the parental respect from their kids who subsequently resort to other social vices. Hardship and neglect force these children to indulge into immoral activities to survive.
Most of them also fall victims of rape and other forms of sexual harassment leading to unwanted pregnancies. Eventually, these children end up being street touts, prostitutes and general nuisance to the society. Most of young ladies endure all sorts of harassment from immoral men who take advantage of them to defraud and sexually abuse them.
Refugees need to buy fresh water. Also, refugees pay for toilet fees before they are allowed to defecate, and some who cannot afford money to go to public toilets use their houses as their bathrooms for toilets or sinks.
Despite these shortcomings, they considered the camp their home and put a lot of effort in upgrading it. For the 3500 Liberians, who lost their refugee status in June 2012, this place turned into a home land for them with no option to leave.
GENERAL SITUATIONS THE REFUGEES ARE FACED WITH
The refugees in the Liberians refugees’ settlement encounter numerous of challenges as far as refugees situation is concerned. But this article will focus on two major challenges the refugees are faced with. These include;
The scarcity of water is one of the challenges the refuges on the refugees camp are face with. Water is sold from commercially operated mobile tankers as well as portable water in plastic sachets, while many refugees depend on rainfall or water from wells to survive.
There are no functional borehole or pump in the refugees in the settlement. This also leaves a considerable number of refugees without safe drinking water. As the result, they are venerable to contacting diseases.
Most children and youth in the refugee’s camp are out of schools due to hardship and inability for their parents/guardians to send them to schools. Prior to the withdrawal of support in 2012, all schools that were run by the UNHCR have been closed down. This situation make is challenging for refugees who cannot afford to send their children to Ghanaian schools. The only option parent are left with is to seek sponsorship from NGOs or allow their children to stay at home.
At the moment, students in the Senior High School level are paying Ghc 2,000.00 ( $550.00) for an academic year, while students in the lower classes pay . This is why some parents cannot afford money to send their children to school. As the result, a lot of school dropouts are found roaming around the camp without a sense of purpose. Eventually, they become addicted to social activities like playing video games, going to night clubs and other entertainment centers. Many kids are now living on their own. Some who serve as breadwinners for their family are vulnerable to exploitation and varying types of abuses, including child labor, prostitution and crimes. Wayward children as young as 13 years are seen pushing wheelbarrow while others especially girls go around to wash clothes for living.