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REFUGEES’ REFLECTIONS ON THEIR STAY IN THE BUDUMBURAM CAMP IN GHANA. BY AGUSTINE TANLE DEPARTMENT OF POPULATION AND HEALTH UNIVERSITY OF CAPE COAST 2012 GHANA GEOGRAPHIICAL ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE, KNUST, KUMASI 1 ST- 4 TH AUGUST, 2012. OUTLINE OF PRESENTATION. Introduction

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refugees reflections on their stay in the budumburam camp in ghana

REFUGEES’ REFLECTIONS ON THEIR STAY IN THE BUDUMBURAM CAMP IN GHANA

BY

AGUSTINE TANLE

DEPARTMENT OF POPULATION AND HEALTH

UNIVERSITY OF CAPE COAST

2012 GHANA GEOGRAPHIICAL ASSOCIATION

CONFERENCE, KNUST, KUMASI

1ST- 4TH AUGUST, 2012

outline of presentation
OUTLINE OF PRESENTATION
  • Introduction
  • Research questions/objective
  • Theoretical framework
  • Methodology
  • Main findings
  • Policy recommendations
introduction
INTRODUCTION
  • Hosting of refugees in Ghana (since the 1990s)
  • Some previous studies in the Buduburam camp: Porter et al(2008)-refugee-host r/ships in the context of livelihood opportunities.
  • Dick (2002a, b)-preparedness of Liberia refugees for self-reliance and responding to protracted refugee situations.
  • Agblorti (2011)-host community’s perspectives on refugee integration in Ghana.
research questions objective
Research questions/objective
  • What are the refugees experiences in Ghana?
  • What are their future plans?
  • Main objective: To explore the experiences of the Liberian refugees in the Budumburam camp.
theoretical framework
Theoretical framework
  • Structuration theory by Giddens (1984) and Kunz’s (1981) kenetic model.
  • Components of the sructuration theory: Agency, structure, duality of structure, institutions, dialectic of control and time/space relations.
  • Agency: Knowledgeable and capable individual.
theoretical framework con t
Theoretical framework con’t
  • Structure: Rules (recursive rules, norms, laws, etc) and resources organized as properties of social systems
  • Duality of structure: Defines relationships between structure and agency.
  • Institutions: Socio-cultural, economic and political structures that influence individual behaviour in society.
theoretical framework con t1
Theoretical framework con’t
  • Dialectic of control: The power of every individual to influence society no matter how minute the impact may be.
  • Time/space dimension indicates how social relations vary with time and space.
  • Kunz’s (1981) kenetic model: Anticipatory refugee movements and acute refugee movements.
theoretical framework con t2
Theoretical framework con’t
  • Anticipatory refugee senses the danger in advance, plans and moves before a crisis situation sets in.
  • Acute refugee movements require immediate escape from one’s place of usual residence in order to save one’s life.
methodology
Methodology
  • Qualitative research
  • Instrument: IDI guide
  • Sampling procedures: Snowball and quota
  • Total number interviewed: 44 Liberian refugees
  • Field assistants: Final year students
economic experiences
Economic experiences
  • Informal sector activities—Petty trading, artisan works, farming, direct sale of labour, etc. and unemployment.
  • Formal sector employment?
  • Agency capabilities (Skills, knowledge, etc.)
  • Agencies (Refugee and indigene population).
  • Institutions (Facilitates and constraints).
excerpts
Excerpts
  • Through petty trading, l earn some income to support my husband and children. Sometimes I pay the children’s school fees (Female Liberian refugee, aged 29 years, petty trader, lived in the camp for 11 years)(Agency Capabilities).
  • My brother in Nigeria occasionally sends money to me for my education (Male Liberian refugee, aged 17 years, a student).

(Access to transnational resources ( space )

excerpt
Excerpt
  • I am a teacher in the camp employed by UNHCR. But we are not paid during the holidays because it is from the school fees that we are paid. During holidays, l borrow money from fellow Liberians in the camp. Occasionally, l receive foodstuffs from parents of my students and also remittances from Liberians abroad ($50.00 on the average). Also, l am a church elder and every month l receive some economic support from my church (Male Liberian refugee, aged 45 years, a teacher, 21 years in the camp). (Social networks create economic opportunities).
socio cultural experiences
Socio-cultural experiences
  • Social networks (socialization, marital unions, economic opportunities, etc.), Acculturation (Diets, language, dressing, etc.), Cultural shocks, Formal education, Discrimination, etc.
  • Psychosocial experiences: Flashbacks, psychological trauma, Stigmatization, etc.
  • Perceptions about Ghanaians (Positive and negative)
excerpts1
Excerpts
  • .....I even fell in love with a Ghanaian young man and got pregnant for him, hahaa, he’s the father of my first daughter. (A 35 year old female Liberian refugee, unemployed but lived in the camp for 20 years)(Social networks).
  • Actually, I was very young when I came to Ghana so I am comfortable with the food here, way of dressing and the local language (Twi) . I do everything like any Ghanaian will do (Female Liberian refugee, 23 years, unemployed, 13 years in the camp)(Acculturation).
excerpts2
Excerpts
  • In terms of culture, it is sometimes interesting. I have experienced some cultural shocks. For example, Ghanaians use our favourite cassava leaves to feed sheep and goats (Female Liberian refugee, 45 years, petty trader, 21 years in the camp).
  • For we Liberians, giving out something to a person using the left hand is acceptable but the Ghanaians feel offended and in some cases it has resulted in a quarrel or a fight (Male Liberian refugee, 45 years, teacher, 21 years in the camp)(Cultural shocks)
excerpt1
Excerpt
  • People discriminate a lot in the school and at the health centre. The teachers have no concern for our academic progress. I think we are all blacks so one should not discriminate against another like the whites do but it happened here (Female Liberian refugee, 26 years, beautician apprentice, 10 years n the camp) (Discrimination).
excerpts3
Excerpts
  • Sometimes I experience some flashbacks, especially when I remember the relationship that existed between me and my parents. Here I am, a school drop-out, not married but have two kids. I just can’t stand it (Female Liberian refugee, 35years, unemployed, 20 years in the camp).
  • I lost my parents and siblings during the war in Liberia. My mother was stripped naked and raped and I was made to clap my hands and laugh while they (that is the rebels) shot my mum and my dad. My siblings were killed as well for failing to laugh and clap their hands while my parents were being killed..... At times, when I am alone, I asked myself that why I didn’t also allow myself to be killed by the rebels so that I join my family. I get traumatized when I see a gun even on television (Female Liberian refugee, aged 41 years, hair dresser, 21 years in the camp) (Flashbacks).
excerpts4
Excerpts
  • I was employed in one plastic company at Kaneshie but was fired. Even I like it that way because the people do not respect me; everything they’ll refer to me as “ooh that refugee, that refugee” as if I’m not a human being (Male Liberian refugee, aged 33 years, unemployed, 21 years in the camp).
  • Sometimes the comments and issues that are discussed about Liberian refugees on television and some radio stations make me regret for being resettled in Ghana (Male Liberian refugee, 35 years, teacher, 18 years in the camp ).
  • Most of the time, we are insulted in schools and everything bad that happens in school is associated with us which is very painful. Again, some section of the public associate us with prostitution (Female Liberian refugee, 23 years, unemployed, 13 years in the camp)(Stigmatization).
excerpt2
Excerpt
  • I have some Ghanaians friends outside this camp. Ghanaians are very friendly and my friends at times give me help both in cash and in kind (Female Liberian refugee, 24 years, petty trader, 16 years in the camp).
  • People sometimes come to us to ask for sexual intercourse, I remember a young man came to the camp some months back and ask me and my two other friends to go and have sexual intercourse with him for GHc50. That day I was very sad. I don’t know whether they think we are prostitutes (Female Liberian refugee, 23 years, unemployed, 13 years in the camp) (Perceptions).
basic infrastructure and security
Basic infrastructure and security
  • Access to basic infrastructural facilities: Schools, Potable water, Health facilities, Electricity and Sanitation facilities (Institutions)
  • Security situation in and around the camp: Police station, fire service, NADMO, (Institutions), Neighbourhood security team (Dialectics of control), etc.
excerpts5
Excerpts
  • There is poor security in the camp. Some Ghanaians, Nigerians, Cameroonians and Togolese are not refugees but they are all living in the camp . The camp has become a refuge for all kinds of criminals because of the poor security. (MaleLiberian refugee, 45 years, teacher, 21 years in the camp).
  • The most painful thing is that sometimes when you call the police to come to your aid when you are in trouble, they will ask you to go and solve your own problems. The police must sit up (Male Liberian refugee, 36 years, unemployed, 20 years in the camp) (Institution).
future plans
Future plans
  • Desired to go back to Liberia (Anticipatory refugee movements).
  • Wished to continue to stay in Ghana (Acute refugee movements).
  • Preferred to stay in Ghana or a third country (Acute refugee movements).
excerpts6
Excerpts
  • Well, I do not want to stay in Ghana because my country needs my services as a degree holder in information and communication technology to foster its development(Male Liberian refugee, 35 years, teacher, 18 years in the camp) (Anticipatory refugee movements and dialectic of control)
  • I have lived here for almost 21years and can speak about three Ghanaian languages. Hahaa, I am almost a Ghanaian can’t you see? In fact, I don’t want to go back to Liberia. Secondly, I have the feeling that if I return to Liberia, I will be persecuted or confronted with violence and trauma (Female Liberian refugee, 45 years, petty trader, 21 years in the camp) (Acute refugee movements and dialectic of control).
excerpt3
Excerpt
  • I have lost my father in Liberia, l don’t know where my mother is, l can’t identify my home at Liberia, l have built a house here and also have some dependents...... If UNHCR says we should leave Ghana, l think Ghana government have the power to say no, we should stay in Ghana permanently. Alternatively, the government of Ghana could arrange for us to be sent to a third country (Female Liberian refugee, aged 34 years, petty trader, 14 years in the camp) (Acute refugee movements and dialectic of control).
policy recommendations
Policy recommendations
  • The application of the three durable solutions to refugees should be case-specific and not across board since they had different experiences during the war in Liberia.
  • If some refugees are to be considered for local integration, GRB and UNHCR should provide skills training for those without any skills to enable them to get jobs in future, particularly the females who are more vulnerable.
  • There is the need for adequate and effective security in the camp to protect the refugees.Proper identification and documentation of information on refugees could help flash out non-refugees in the camp.
policy recommendations con t
Policy recommendations con’t
  • There is the need to improve upon the utility facilities in the camp, especially the water supply system.
  • There is the need for proper dissemination of information from camp management and stakeholders to refugees to ensure transparency and forestall occasional refugee rioting or demonstration in the camp.