Many residents of the Buduburam Camp have begun vacating the place following the expiration of the deadline given them to leave for its redevelopment.
Late Wednesday and early yesterday, the Daily Graphic saw trucks carrying the personal effects of some of the residents leaving the camp.
Mostly Ghanaians and Nigerians, the residents were adhering to a final notice given by the Gomoa East District Assembly to people living at the camp to leave by September 30.
However, others, mostly Liberians, remained defiant, saying they did not have anywhere to go.
The assembly had, last Wednesday, issued a final notice to people living at the camp to leave by September 30.
The notice, signed by the District Chief Executive (DCE), Mr Solomon Darko-Quarm, said the September 30 date had not been extended, and that people living at the defunct Liberia Camp were to leave.
Following the notice, the Liberian residents converged on the frontage of the St Gregory Hospital to voice their frustration.
In separate interviews with the Daily Graphic, some of them said the way and manner in which they were being asked to leave was not right.
They said the decision of the assembly should have been channelled through the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Ghana Refugee Board, since it was through the UN body and the government of Ghana that they settled at the camp.
Others said they could not leave the place, since the borders were closed, and that if the necessary access was created for them, they would leave.
Some of them said they had married Ghanaians and had children with the women, and that the camp was the only place they had to live.
Residents lament, challenge decision
One such Liberian resident, Ruth Zatey, said she had four children with a Ghanaian who had abandoned her and so she did not know where to send the children, since they did not have any relative in Liberia.
“The father of my four children is Ghanaian and so where am I sending the children?” she queried.
“The government should have mercy on us,” she pleaded.
Another resident, Mr Abraham Lincoln, said there was an arrangement with the government in 2013 for them to be at the camp until a final decision was taken.
One of the leaders at the camp, Mr Vanney Fanbulleh, challenged the authority of the assembly to claim the land.
He said proper dialogue should have been arranged with the people before the issuance of the notice of eviction.
The matter, he said, should be looked at critically by the government, since Liberians at the camp were peaceful and law-abiding people who had lived with Ghanaians well.
He said among the Liberians were many vulnerable people, including the elderly, children and the sick.
Yet another Liberian resident, Ms Jessica Thompson, said she was traumatised by the decision to evict them.
She said emphatically that no Liberian was leaving the camp, and that all those leaving were Ghanaians who had settled at the camp.
She also dismissed the allegation of Liberians engaging in criminal activities.
“The police know the areas where the criminals are and can easily go there and fish them out,” she said.
Some Ghanaian residents told the Daily Graphic that the government should extend the eviction deadline to the end of the year to give them more time to prepare and leave.
A middle-aged woman, Akosua Agyeiwaa, said the notice given by the assembly was too short.
“We have been selling here and living with the people peacefully. We are pleading with the government to give us some time to leave,” she said.
Some of those who had left said they did so because of the notice issued by the assembly.
For them, it was better to leave now before the commencement of demolition of the camp.
The camp, which was decommissioned as a refugee base by the UNHCR in June 2010, has become a settlement and now bears the infamous credential as a hideout for social deviants, including alleged robbery gangs.
Mr Darko-Quarm had earlier told the Daily Graphic that the demolition of the camp was in response to a request by Gomoa Fetteh chiefs over the increasing criminal acts in the Gomoa area. – Graphiconline