U.N. denounces reported expulsions from Ghana of Burkina asylum seekers

DAKAR (Reuters) -The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) has raised concerns about reports in Ghana that hundreds of citizens seeking refuge from an insurgency in neighbouring Burkina Faso were being deported, an allegation that Ghana denies.

Burkina Faso is one of several West African countries fighting armed groups that took root in north Mali and have seized ground across the region over the past decade, killing thousands and displacing over six million in the process.

More than two million have fled their homes in Burkina Faso alone, where frustrations over growing insecurity spurred two military takeovers last year.

Some, mainly women and children, have sought refuge in north Ghana, where the insurgency has also hit in recent years.

The UNHCR on Wednesday called on Ghana’s government to guarantee access to its territory and asylum to Burkinabes fleeing violence, and cease reported expulsions.

Ghana’s government refuted the allegations on Thursday, saying 530 displaced Burkinabes were being accommodated in a temporary reception centre set up in collaboration with the UNHCR.

“Ghanaian official entities ensure that the displaced persons have access to free food and medical care,” the ministry of national security said in a statement, adding that land had been acquired to set up housing.

Only Burkinabes wishing to be returned home were being repatriated through a process in line with international protocols, it said.

The alleged forced repatriations by Ghana’s army have been reported in local publications and on social media.

Twitter user Alhaji Gbangbanku shared video online of dozens of women holding their children, sitting on the ground in a parking lot with buses.

“The repatriation of Fulbes from Burkina Faso is continuing today in several northern Ghana communities,” he wrote, describing it as a “military-led exercise” and a “dangerous development.”

Reuters could not independently verify the videos or the expulsions.


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