We have been in Accra for just over a week now, spending time and researching at the Liberian Refugee Camp about 45 km outside of Accra… This camp has been active since 1990, the start of the Liberian civil war. At its peak, there were approximately 45,000 refugees in the camp; now, there are approximately 32,000, per the Liberian Refugee Welfare Council based in the camp. We came to the camp to learn about another consequence of conflict – I doubt there are many Liberians in Buduburam who did not pass through Sierra Leone, Guinea, or the Ivory Coast before making their way to Ghana, where they are still dealing with the trauma of the war. Our first few days here were spent trying to gain permission to work in the camp from the camp manager, UNHCR, the Ghana Refugee Board and the Ministry of the Interior – the Ghanaian government is taking their responsibility of protecting the refugees quite seriously… we have also learned that everything takes a little more time to accomplish here!
Liberians in the camp are rightly proud of how well they are managing. You can find anything that you may need directly in the camp, including a large choice of Converse and Adidas sneakers! There is a clinic, many schools and churches, clean water (for purchase), a few places for internet, and many stalls selling fruits, vegetables, and peppers… Although there is some farmland, no one has large enough land to be able to produce enough to sell; all of the food is actually bought in the town nearby, Kasoa, and then re-sold in the camp.
Some say they want to go back to Liberia but don’t have the resources, some say they will never return out of fear, some wish to be resettled in the US, where there are several large Liberian communities… what will become of the camp is unknown, but in the meantime, life goes on in Buduburam.