The plight of the Liberian and Ivorian people in the Buduburam Refugee Camp in Ghana West Africa has been a designated project for Abandoned Children’s Fund since it was first introduced to us by our project partner in 2011. The camp originally opened in 1990 by the United Nations served originally as a refugee camp for the first Liberian Civil War (19890-1996) and later served to provide refuge to victims fleeing from the Civil war in Sierra Leone (1991-2001) and the second Liberian Civil War (1999 -2003). There is also a small contingent of Ivorian refugees from the two Civil Wars in The Ivory Coast (2002-2004 & 2011).
As the open hostilities in these wars have mostly long faded into history and the camp has “officially” been decommissioned by the United Nations. Unfortunately, the problem of resettling mostly widows and children back to their places of origin are complicated by poverty and war ravaged conditions in their home countries, property that has either been confiscated or seized by hostile strangers, massive unemployment and the accumulated weariness and depression resulting from years of displacement. At some point the shock of a life of continual insecurity gives rise to a sort of paralysis.
As is often the case the circumstances behind these wars are complex and confusing to casual observers but the humanitarian consequences are by no means ambiguous. The same old ghosts of war and poverty stalk these camps. Contaminated water, scarcity of food and health care, an absence of any educational or occupational opportunities reduce the strength of will of these people to little more than begging, victims of circumstances far beyond their control.
Abandoned Children’s Fund has supported our project partner in the camp who are comprised primarily of Ghanaian citizens who (unlike the majority of their fellow countrymen) look beyond these unwanted immigrants and the stigma they represent as social pariahs, and see in them the suffering of the human family.
They pay a price for reaching out against the popular rejection of the refugees (who are feared and hated for taking potential jobs away from Ghanaian nationals) and attempting to lift their lifestyle though providing basic human necessities. Abandoned Children’s Fund has donated containers of food medicine and medical supplies. We have also been able to assist logistically in providing funding for the installation of water tanks for the camp residents.
Understandably the government of Ghana has for years been trying to actively encourage the deportation and relocation of these refugees back to their host countries and as a result the population in the camp is slowly declining over the years, but it appears it will be many ears before the final page is turned on this sad chapter of African life.
In the meantime, tens of thousands of mostly women and children are born and raised in the tragic squalor of this camp outside Accra. The strategy for assisting these people includes as a first step; installing water tanks throughout the various sections of the camp (which has no sewage system or running water) and organizing feeding programs throughout their section of the camp. Step two then seeks to undertaking to provide rudimentary educational instruction for the children and then lay the foundation for some kind of health care provision for camp refugees (which is at this point mostly a dream).
Once there is some support in place for addressing the most fundamental needs for survival the encouragement leads to an increased hope for bettering the circumstances that plague such profound poverty and disempowerment. Our project partners have reported that in the parts of the camp community that they have responsibility for there have been some rather dramatic improvements measured in the underlying mental and spiritual health of the youth. An example of some of the results being reported by our partners in the camp include
- 90% decrease in absentee from days missed at school among children enrolled in our project partners program
- 80% decrease in children diagnosed as malnourished among children enrolled in our project partners program
- 85% decrease in death from starvation among children enrolled in our project partners program
- 75% decrease in child prostitution related arrests among children enrolled in our project partners program
- 65% decrease of criminal activities associated with gang activities among children enrolled in our project partners program
Though these results are not yet supported by pure verifiable scientific data they represent the search for reestablishing some control in their environment and are providing vision and enthusiasm to continue in a struggle which at times appears to them to be Hopeless. Please help us continue to be a cup of clean water, a bowl of nutritious food, a way out of illiteracy and recruitment into gangs or prostitution and the way forward to a purposeful life for these refugees.