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The Center for Youth Empowerment, and most Liberian Refugees at Buduburam, Ghana have now been repatriated. Slabe Sennay and his team have started a new school at Gardnersville, Monrovia, Liberia. Please see new page here. Please scroll down to see the last reports at Buduburam which are retained for historical reasons.

We have no contact with Buduburam and are unable to answer any questions. There are few web pages about Buduburam less than 2 years old. For recent information try:  www.buduburam.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUDUBURAM 2008

The Liberian Refugee Camp in GHANA, West Africa.

Annual Report of the Liberian Refugees Scholarship Fund

Includes The Skipping Meals Report 

||CONDITIONS AT BUDUBURAM||

||YOUTH EMPOWERMENT HOME PAGE||

 (For additional notes from past years  see below.)

 
 

600 WOMEN REFUGEES ARRESTED  ! 

SAFEGUARD REFUGEE RIGHTS in GHANA ! 

GO HOME - LIBERIANS URGED ! 

GHANA - DEPORTATION to LIBERIA ! 

Such were the headlines displayed in local newspapers. Fear and that queasy feeling in the stomach affected most refugees who remember the civil war in Liberia.

It started on the 19th February when some Liberian women demonstrated against the UNHCR because the return grant should be increased from $100 to $1000. Even more importantly, the permitted luggage was only 20 Kg - most inadequate for those who had lived in Ghana for over 16 years, but the newspapers did not mention this point.

On March 17th the Ghana police went in and arrested 630 women and children, taking them to Kordiabe in East Ghana and some children in Buduburam found their mothers had been taken from them. On March 21st 90 of the most vulnerable women were released but on the 22nd March the armed police again went in and arrested 70 Liberian men. On March the 23rd 16 of the refugees were flown out without due process, arriving in Liberia without warning, without their belongings, without support.

Questions of the Human Rights of Refugees were raised, and petitions were run on the internet.

The Ghanian government showed great generosity when it gave Buduburam to the refugees some 16 years ago. Trade benefits have flown to Ghana due to the presence of an active business activity but overall it has been clear that no love has been lost between Liberians and Ghanians.

Ghana’s Minister of the Interior, Kwamena Bartels, alleged the striking women were a threat to Ghana’s security, that a number of ex-combatants in Liberia’s decade old civil war have infiltrated the camp and are planning to cause trouble in the country. These charges were taken up by sections of the press who claimed the demonstrating women stripped naked which was hotly denied. It is clear that Bartels used these arguments to bolster his case to repatriate the refugees and nullify the objections of Liberia that they could not accept so many refugees at once.

The Liberian delegation, UNHCR, and Ghana have announced their agreement that mass emigration will take place commencing in June (and could end by September.)

Constone Day at Buduburam

This is my fifth annual report on the Liberian Refugees at Buduburam, their progress and prospects also on the Scholarship Fund.. There are several groups mostly supported by churches but the group that I assist is known as The Center for Youth Empowerment, led by President Slabe Sennay who at the time of these events was in Liberia, courtesy of Association of World Citizens, making an assessment of conditions in Liberia. Some abridged extracts from his Assessment:

"Education ...High tuition rates, coupled with the nationwide unemployment crisis, have left many children excluded from the educational system......

....the lack of text books, laboratory equipment impede a quality education. Due to this severe lack of resources, the schools are incapable of establishing a working school meal program. During my assessment, I witnessed children boycotting classes due to hunger on several occasions; this is extremely disruptive to their education.

"Peace Building:..... My investigation revealed that the division between settlers and natives remains in the contemporary context, with each group apportioning the blame on one another for the massacre, the destruction of towns and villages, and the high rate of illiteracy and unemployment.

"Health....."Many of the existent clinics and health posts experience acute shortages of medical equipments and drugs to treat illness. Therefore, preventable diseases like malaria, typhoid, running stomach, headache and chicken pox has easily overwhelmed the population.

"As for sanitation, there is no good drainage system; leaving many of the drainage systems in ill-repair or entirely nonfunctional. As well, there is no centralized garbage disposal system, coupled with the lack of proper sanitation contributes to a large presence of flies and mosquitoes, and the proliferation of disease."

These extracts show the huge problems facing Liberia which will not be made easier by importing up to 40,000 from Ghana. Slabes Assessment continues with many examples and recommendations of what should be done. The full report can be read  here

In January 2006 Liberia elected a new President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, The first woman ever to be elected President in the whole of Africa. A better choice could not have been made. She is an African woman, with the education, qualification and experience comparable to or higher than those of the most qualified leaders the world over. She represents Liberia’s best chance for recovery.

So far we have reviewed recent events, Now let us look at The CYE School’s record. Repairs to the storm damage was completed last June thanks to the generosity of the Victorian and Sth. Australian Humanist Societies as well as individual members The enrolment of students considerably increased to two hundred and fifty students. The school was rated number one as evidence of the splendid performances of students during the test administered to students in the 6th grade class by the Buduburam Central Educational Board. Eighty five refugee kids were awarded scholarship as a result of the increment of donations from Mr. Clifford. The school feeding program was also launched by one of the volunteers from Germany, students are provided with water and food during school days.

School Feeding Program

In extra-curriculum activities, the school participated in two soccer competitions which brought together fifteen schools in and around the camp and came second; students visited some historical sites in Ghana, an African Constone day organized and a reading contest among the students.

Peace Department: CYE conducted eight workshops on peace education, mediation, conflict resolution and transformation, community development and peace building. Eight community peace forums were held in six(6) zones out of the twelve zones on camp, peace education was taught in five schools at the camp.

The Sewing School received the donations of ten sewing machines from Eillis Pourbix of Canada and 35 women expect to complete the course by June. A series of workshops were organized on Gender Base Violence/HIV AIDS and followed up with flyers and broadcasts on the camp system. The women’s department was able to acquire a big building through the kind gesture of Valerie Minne, a volunteer from Belgium. This building houses the sewing school, school of Beauty Care, Gender Base Violence/HIV AIDS, CYE peace Mega Broadcasting system and other offices.

Mishka Jambor is a friend of the Humanist Society of NSW and a member of the Uniting church. She was able to get to Buduburam as a volunteer teacher thanks to a large gift from her church and a small one from South Australian Humanists, she was able to get there last October and sent back the following comments. “Heard stories of escape, hardships, dreams, Most people have MOBILES (big shock to me; I am NOT in the communication loop). some are hungry. Many CHURCHES; singing, preaching, dancing: all loud! I have seen no one reading here, (like in India) unless for study. so many adults are idle (playing cards, doing hairdos etc) I talked about it and found out that it is difficult for many to read: they read extremely slowly. . . . so they minimise going through this hardship. 
1) Many contrasts: people have mobiles but are not eating. 
2) People have modern clothes, latest fashion jeans, and women wear fancy hairdos ( mainly done through friends) but they may not be eating for days. 
3) Parents try to pay fees for their children's schools, but again even those who pay fairly expensive fees (relative to income) they will be cooking only every now and then. 
4) some get some money from relatives in the US. or friends, but many, may be half of the population here (about 45 thousand) do not have overseas contacts. 
5) what a choice: to have a wash therefore having to buy a bucket of water (1000 cedis) or buy a small piece of bread. 
6) To use a public toilet (very few have toilets at home) you have to pay 500 cedis, equivalent to a price of a banana or a nice biscuit. 7) Teachers are getting 200 000 cedis per month, while one sack of 50 kg rice cost 
380 000 cedis. 
How do people survive here ? IT is a MIRACLE. 
Yesterday we again talked to 7 people: re problems Personal, Collective, and World Problems (immigration, roots causes for poverty and so on). Unfortunately it is all men (women here are so narrow minded: fashion, beauty and what you can give me: materially) we discussed this matter also.... "
These Email comments give a good impression of life in a refugee camp with inadequate education and food. 
Leo Igwe, secretary of the Nigerian Humanist Movement, and Slabe Sennay, President of the Center for Youth Empowerment at the refugee camp, gave a humanist workshop at Cape Coast University in Ghana. In which he stated “Dick is like a father, advisor and an inspirational force” The refugees have accepted the inevitable return to Liberia and have: 
1. Registered the organization under the Liberian laws. 
2. Probated the article of incorporation at the probate court in Monrovia, Liberia. 
3. Established a bank account for the organization, 
4. Received the green light to operate in Liberia as a NGO. 
Slabes team have run a school for two years, proving their capability. They will need extra support this year from both government and well wishers. Even small donations go a long way in Liberia. 
                                                                                                  Dick Clifford

 
     
  THE SKIPPING MEALS REPORT

A warning to all concerned about refugees, and those who live in poverty.

Mishka Jambor, a teacher based in NSW, frequently travels the world to teach some of the world’s poorest children. Last year she went to the Buduburam Refugee Camp for Liberians in Ghana. She observed that people whom she interviewed were skipping meals and only cooking now and then.

It is not difficult to work out why this is happening, the Food and Agricultural Authority of the U.N. reports a world rise in food prices, their price index rose from 140 to 180 in 2007. this causes problems to those earning around 2 dollars a day. The FAO also reports 36 countries are in crisis requiring external assistance, 21 of them are in Africa. World Food stocks are reported to be well down on previous years and due to climate change, prospects are not good.

Cooking and boiling water is done with kerosene burners. They are not good on the lungs but are cheap and convenient. Kerosene is a light fraction of oil also used by aircraft and the price has now risen to $107 per barrel and is predicted to double in price within 12 months. If the world is hit with a depression then the price will go down, but there will be even less money available for anyone.

The solar cooker is a more practical solution, there are many designs available, some are a DIY project made from cardboard and aluminum foil. These cookers were introduced to Ghana almost 2 decades ago but need much more publicity to really take hold.

All peoples need a basic minimum of food to stay healthy and must also be able to boil water and cook food to reduce those bugs which can be fatal especially in countries with inadequate medical services, and where people are all ready weakened by an inadequate diet.

Today there are millions of people starving to death across the world. Many have blamed the economic system. Up to date reasons include global climate change, peak oil, limited resources, especially water. The world is threatened by more droughts, overpopulation, less oil, all of which will precipitate financial crash.

Supporting the U.N. As of November 30, 2007, members' arrears to the Regular Budget topped $735 million, of which the United States alone owed $688 million (94% of the regular budget arrears). Many countries, including Australia have followed the United States lead, and reduced their contributions in recent decades. NGOs, Churches and other organisations need to bring pressure to bear on their governments to increase their U.N. contributions. They will find that it is more difficult to raise donations, and those donations will not go as far as they once did.

3rd world countries must learn how to develop their own country for the benefit of their people. They have already learned that international agreements are made in the interests of the "donor" country. Promises often dont materialise. They must work at improving their water supply and growing food designed for their location and their peoples need. They must encourage all their citizens to grow their own vegetables, provide "allotments" with police protection, as is done in UK, and promote solar cookers.

All peoples, everywhere have to learn how to reduce emission of CO2 to negligible amounts, how to develop alternative power, how to develop an economic system not dependent on unsustainable growth.

Failure will mean the destruction of our civilisation.

Citizens of more affluent countries should first check out the position of their indigenous peoples, those who are homeless, incapacitated and unemployed. (Put pressure on your representative in Parliament for action.) Then they must consider cutting their use of oil. It is the high demand for oil which is increasing the price which in turn affects the cost of insecticides, fertilizers, and all farming operations. Therefore we must go to work by bicycle, build smaller cars then electric cars. To charge electric cars we will need electric generators powered by Solar Towers, Wind, Tidal, Geo-thermal energy, etc. but also beware of sources which are too costly such as Nuclear Power. Bio-Fuels, now being developed in many countries, increase the price of grain, reduces the food acreage and in present circumstances should be regarded as a sin.

Bankers and Financiers should be aware that if we continue present systems then as the oil supply becomes too expensive and intermittent the whole system will collapse - the worst depression in history. Reforms are needed to introduce a new economy, one with less competition, less greed, less consumption, more akin to Keynes, with improvements to the commons, involving more people. Bankers should call conferences, examine the reforms available on Google and select reforms that help people rather than money.

All People Everywhere need to realise that this is a world crisis of immense proportions. Governments everywhere do not know what to do. They are afraid to offend the industrial giants who will soon collapse if the government themselves, take no action.

One simple thing we all can do, take this piece of paper to your newsagent or Library, duplicate and distribute widely.

 Dick Clifford

 
 

   

OLDER ITEMS OF INTEREST

Additional Information:  Earlier reports on Buduburam mentioned electricity being on site, which was quite true but only about 5% could afford it. But some time ago the transformer was removed. This was replaced early in 2005 but the costs of connection and supply make it prohibitive for most.  

Information on the web is sometimes conflicting mainly due to the different dates on which they were produced. The older reports can be quite misleading and they often do not mention when they were made.

A particularly balanced and well researched paper has recently been presented by Dr. Kwesi Aning & Associate. The URL is far too long to risk typing, but if you type in to the Google search engine "Dr Kwesi Aning conceptualising" you will be presented with two choices, (1) a 22 page word format, double spaced with footnotes, or (2) an 11 page HTML format, single spaced with no footnotes. 

The most recent information dated June 14th 2004 from The Perspective, Atlanta Georgia, is an article by  Saah Charles N'Tow  "How Liberians Live on the Camp at Buduburam in Ghana" This excellent article tells us that Harvard University is taking an interest in Buduburam, is comprehensive and gives a long report on health care and his recommendations on what should be done. 

KATHERINE EVERIST from Melbourne did two months volunteer work in Buduburam early this year (2005) Read her report here. 

IHEYO visit to Ghana.

Mr Yehmi Johnson, Secretary-General of the International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation held a conference with the Ghana Humanist Youth Society 2-4/4/2004 with Liberian Refugee’s attending.
   On the third day Mr Johnson visited the Buduburam camp and reported as follows:
   "It was really a visit that might take some time to be wiped out of my memory because of what I saw. Sincerely speaking, life is quite tough on this camp, Although this was my first visit to a refugee Camp, I have never seen a situation as pathetic as this.
1) They do not have access to potable water.
2) Pay to use toilets which are available in grades (VIP’s-Cedis 500, Specials-Cedis 300 General-Cedis 200)
3) The major occupation of girls in this camp is Prostitution.
   Having identified and personally analysed these problems, I promised them that I shall consult with the IHEYO EC to see what we can do to assist (most especially concerning Scholarships for the Refugee Children to attend primary school)"
                           Yehmi Johnson

 Storm damages School 26/3/2007 +
  CYE takes over Christ Church School

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