The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Ghana Refugee Board (GRB), has started the distribution of cash grants to Liberian refugees in Ghana, who have opted to locally integrate.
The one-time cash grant ranges from US$400 to US$ 2,400 payable in Ghanaian Cedis depending on the size of the family.
The amount is to support the former refugees to enable them start life in Ghana.
The cash forms part of the local integration package to be received by more than 3,500 Liberian refugees, who have opted to stay in Ghana. Other components of the local integration package include the issuance of Liberian Passports, two-year residence permits/work permits, and National Health Insurance premium for one year.
This is in addition to skills training activities the refugees have benefitted from in the previous years to help their self-reliance. The cash grant component of the Local Integration package is made possible by the donation of the Danish government with 75% and US Government with 25% of the required funding.
“The Danish and United States governments have been of immense support towards the payment of the cash grant component of the exercise, and we are grateful” said UNHCR Representative in Ghana, Ms Sharon Cooper.
She also thanked the Government of Ghana for hosting Liberian refugees in Ghana for the past two decades. UNHCR and partners expect to close the case for Liberian refugees by the end of 2013.
Those receiving the cash grant have already gone through a vetting exercise by both officials from Liberia as well as Ghana Immigration Officials. Currently, a team from Liberia is on a final mission to process those left to go through formal processes for the issuance of Liberian passports.
The Government of Ghana approved last year a local integration policy for those seeking to be integrated.
Ghana has hosted thousands of Liberians since 1990. In 1996, Ghana was hosting more than 40,000 Liberians. However, following the improved security situation in Liberia and a return to constitutional rule, the international community invoked the cessation clause for Liberian refugees on June 30, 2012.
UNHCR Ghana completed organized voluntary repatriation for Liberian refugees last year. Ghanaian authorities are reviewing applications of about 1,200 refugees, who applied for an exemption from the cessation, and they are expected to receive their decisions before the close of the year. Liberian refugees who are exempted from cessation will continue to benefit from Refugee Status in Ghana. Liberian refugees who did not opt for any of the available options and who subsequently come forward shall now have to approach the Ghana Immigration Service to regularize their stay in Ghana.