President John Evans Atta Mills yesterday approved a resettlement plan to repatriate some Ghanaians who fled to neighbouring Togo to escape recent ethnic conflict in the Northern Region, as government denies reports of a mass exodus of Ghanaian refugees into Togo.
As part of the resettlement plan, houses in the Bunkpurugu/Yunyoo district where the conflict occurred on April 25, are being re-roofed because most of the structures are still intact, except that their thatched roofed have been burnt.
Shelter would also be provided for the few whose houses were completely destroyed.
According to government, only about a 1,000 people are estimated to have fled across to Togo, and not 3500 people as reported by the BBC.
Togolese officials also estimate the figure to be 1,000 and not 3,500, the government said, adding; “it is clearly an exaggerated figure because the population of the communities involved is not up to that figure.
” The President, in a meeting with Ghanaian and Togolese security ministers at the Castle in Accra, is said to have urged the security agencies and the other agencies to ensure that the refugees were safely repatriated.
Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa (photo), Deputy Minister of Information, briefing newsmen on the outcome of the President’s meeting with the Togolese delegation, which included the National Security Minister and Minister of Justice, said the President was happy about the co-operation of the Togolese government on the matter.
“The President has expressed appreciation to his Togolese counterpart for the support,” adding that both leaders were happy with the outcome of their collaboration on the matter.
The meeting, he said, was not called as a result of the reports but had been planned already because both governments were aware of the situation. They discussed issues concerning the welfare of the Ghanaians in Togo and their repatriation. “This is not new to the government, because the President has been responding to the situation since April 25, by ordering the development of security personnel to the area, “he stressed. The Deputy Minister said the National Disaster Management Organization had been working on the resettlement plan and hopefully, repatriation would start by the end of this week.
He said although calm had long returned to the area, the resettlement plan would ensure that adequate security was provided.
The deputy minister said the United Nations High Commission for Refugees’ estimated figure was for the purpose of securing supplies for the refugees because it did not want to run out of supplies. “Government believes that even if it is one Ghanaian involved, we owe it a duty to protect the welfare of that one citizen,” he said.
© The Ghanaian Times