The country has registered 3,200 asylum seekers from Burkina Faso, the Ghana Refugee Board (GRB) has said.
The asylum seekers who are in the two Upper regions are part of about 8,000 asylum seekers being hosted in the country.
The Executive Secretary of GRB, Tetteh Padi, who disclosed this to the Daily Graphic, said the asylum seekers from Burkina Faso could be more and that the 3,200 were those who had completed the registration process with the board.
He said the rest were putting up with friends, good Samaritans and other family members who had relocated to Ghana.
“Now the focus is on the Burkinabes who are in the Upper regions. We have registered 3,200 but there are more,” he emphasised, adding that registration was still ongoing.
The interview was a follow-up to the notification the GRB received from UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, earlier this year after the agency assessed the alarming influx of asylum seekers from Burkina Faso who had fled to Ghana as a result of terrorists attacks.
Their presence created fear among members of some communities in the Upper East, Upper West and Savannah regions.
In February, the UNHCR, the Ministry for the Interior, the GRB and other stakeholders had an engagement on a contingency plan to respond and support the asylum seekers, which has culminated in the registration.
Mr Padi said before registering them, the board carried out proper background checks in collaboration with relevant agencies.
“In fact, we don’t even start registering until we get clearance from the security agencies. So we are working closely with the security people,” he said.
“As GRB we are very mindful of the fact that there could be some unwanted elements who would want to take advantage of the situation, so we are not taking anything for granted at all,” he stressed.
Mr Padi assured the citizenry that the GRB was not just receiving and accommodating anybody since they were thoroughly screened.
He said the GRB and the security agencies had been educating the residents on the kinds of people they received in their communities, focusing on “If you see something, say something”.
The Executive Secretary of GRB noted that the numbers of persons coming in were not huge and that they were manageable. It was only when it had about 1,000 people crossing in a day that it became a little of a challenge.
Mr Padi said the GRB had a lot of cooperation from the district assemblies and regional administration, adding that the collaboration had been good so far.
The GRB Executive Secretary said a reception centre was being set up for the asylum seekers to move in.
“We are setting up a reception centre and so very soon we would move all of them there,” Mr Padi said, adding that the facility should be ready by the end of next week.
Asked how the registered asylum seekers were being catered for, the GRB Executive Secretary said at the moment it was other non-governmental organisations, United Nations agencies as well as the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) that were assisting them.
“But we are in touch with them and once we finish with the centre we will move all of them and then we will take full charge,” he said.
The GRB currently runs the Krisan Refugee Camp with mixed nationalities and the Ampain Camp which has Ivorian refugees.
Mr Padi said the board was no longer running the Buduburam Camp, where Liberians were residing as a refugee facility.
“We have stopped running Buduburam as a camp in 2012,” he said, but explained that “we have a representative there because we still have about 100 refugees still there but the board wants to move them away,” he said.
He added that GRB wanted to move them last year but could not do so and that it was trying to put resources together to do the relocation.
The Ghana Refugee Board is charged with the management of activities relating to refugees and asylum seekers in the country.
It is under the Ministry for the Interior.
The GRB coordinates all activities relating to the management and care of refugees in Ghana. It is the sole agency mandated to grant refugee status to persons seeking asylum in the country.
The board partners the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and other state agencies such as NADMO to assist the refugees.