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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07ACCRA294 2007-02-08 17:27:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Accra
Cable title:  

TOGOLESE REFUGEES IN GHANA NEARLY TWO YEARS ON

Tags:   PREF PHUM TO BN GH 
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1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Nearly two years after Togolese refugees streamed
across the Ghana border following post-election violence, the number
of refugees repatriating to Togo has slowed, even though their
situation in Ghana has become somewhat less attractive. Food
rations for half of them have stopped flowing, while some Ghanaians
are showing signs of "refugee fatigue." For its part, the GOG is
not pressuring anyone to leave, nor will it likely encourage
repatriation until it is convinced that conditions are right. The
conduct of the June legislative elections in Togo will probably
determine whether the GOG and UNHCR will launch a more intensified
campaign in cooperation with the GOT to encourage the Togolese
refugees' repatriation. End Summary.



2. (U) Ref Coord traveled with AF/W Desk Officer Emily Plumb to the
Volta Region on January 22 for a meeting with UNHCR Head of Field
Office Anicet Ndayisaba and for a visit to Togolese refugees in the
village of Penyi. Joining them were Needa Jehu-Hoyah, UNHCR Public
Information Officer, and M. Ajith Sunghay, UNHCR Associate
Protection Officer.



--------------------------


Repatriation Slowing


--------------------------





3. (SBU) According to the UNHCR Field Office, there has been only a
small decrease in the estimated 10,000 refugees in Ghana since its
May 2006 headcount (6,000 of these came in the 2005 exodus, while
4,000 of these are Togolese who fled during the 1990s and are less
likely to repatriate). The GOT continues to push for a tri-partite
agreement that would launch the UNHCR-assisted phase of
repatriation, but both UNHCR headquarters in Geneva and the GOG
believe the time is not yet right. According to Ndayisaba, the head
of the GOT's repatriation effort is an old Eyadema family stalwart
whom refugees distrust. He opined that a more moderate figure would
encourage a greater number of refugees to return home. He noted
that some 1,500 refugees had repatriated from Benin over the past
six months with UNHCR assistance, while only a handful had signed up
in Ghana. Although there were no reports of harassment, Ndayisaba
had heard that many of the returnees had trouble re-integrating in
Togo because they had difficulty finding employment.



--------------------------


Largesse Decreasing


--------------------------





4. (U) Beginning on January 1, UNHCR reduced food rations, providing
full rations to only 3,000 of the most vulnerable Togolese in Ghana.
The other refugees, including the 4,000 who fled Togo during the
1990's, receive nothing. Ndayisaba acknowledged the less-than-ideal
timing, since the first harvest for those engaged in agricultural
projects will not be ready until March. Nonetheless, UNHCR had
agreed with the World Food Program to reduce food rations in 2007,
forcing his office to reduce outlays. In response, one refugee
attempted to organize a peaceful protest, but the overall reaction
has been muted.



--------------------------


Possible Resettlement Cases


--------------------------





5. (SBU) UNHCR mentioned several medical cases and noted that others
who had been heavily involved in politics would not likely return to
Togo. Ref Coord encouraged Ndayisaba to consult with UNHCR's hub
and to refer those families for whom resettlement was the best
durable solution. In terms of medical care, GOG hospitals and
clinics in the Volta Region remain available for the refugees to use
at no charge, although the Togolese have to arrange their own
transportation and often purchase medicine if it is not available
inside the government facility.



--------------------------


Meeting with Refugees in Penyi


--------------------------





6. (SBU) Ref Coord and AF/W Desk Officer proceeded to meet with
refugees in the small village of Penyi, an isolated settlement
located about 30 kilometers northwest of the Aflao/Lome border
crossing. The 100 refugees living there were somewhat atypical in
that they were younger than average and no refugees from the
villages had yet repatriated. Otherwise, they represented a mix of
Togolese from both urban and rural backgrounds. Women were involved
in making cassava paste for sale, while some of the men found
intermittent work as construction workers. Refugees reported an
improved sense of security, with no suspicious visitors from east of
the border since June 2006.



--------------------------


Some Signs of Refugee Fatigue


--------------------------





7. (SBU) Nearly two years after the refugee flows began, there was
increasing evidence of "refugee fatigue" in the region. Some

ACCRA 00000294 002 OF 002


landlords have begun asking the Togolese to begin paying rent,
including those living in cinderblock flats in Penyi. Other
Ghanaian host families sharing quarters with refugees have suggested
it may be time for them to leave. Those in Penyi said they were not
yet ready to return, but would follow the June legislative elections
in Togo closely. If there is neither violence nor chicanery, they
said they would then consider returning home.



--------------------------


The View from Togo


--------------------------





8. (SBU) Embassy Lome has suggested that many refugees are
reluctant to repatriate because they were involved in acts of
violence and fear prosecution or retribution from their neighbors.
During her stay in Togo, AF/W Desk Officer Plumb asked Georges
Aidam, the Director of the Cabinet, about the refugees. He simply
said the GOT's goal was to convince all of them to return
voluntarily. He added that his wife, as Minister of Human Rights,
was in charge of this effort. There appeared to be no special
program to persuade the Togolese refugees to return prior to the
upcoming legislative elections so that they could vote.



--------------------------


Comment


--------------------------





9. (SBU) The Togolese refugees in Ghana have more reason than ever
to repatriate: an improving political climate in Togo, a sense that
they may be wearing out their welcome, and a reduction in food
rations. The Secretary of Ghana's Refugee Board told Ref Coord on
January 24 that the GOG and UNHCR would probably join forces after
Togo's legislative elections - if they proceed peacefully and
without massive fraud - to launch a program of "assisted"
repatriation. However, he said Ghana would first want assurances
from the international community that conditions in Togo are
suitable for returning refugees.



10. (U) This cable was cleared with AF/W Desk Officer Plumb and
Embassy Lome.

BRIDGEWATER