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UN Slams Ghana's Expulsions of Burkinabe Refugees

FILE - This aerial view shows refugee women crossing the dry beds of the White Volta river to their farms in Burkina Faso from Issakateng-Bausi, in Bawku, northern Ghana, on December 7, 2022.

ACCRA — The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, said Thursday that Ghana forcibly deported hundreds of people fleeing violence in Burkina Faso, calling on the authorities in the West African nation to cease these expulsions.

According to UNHCR, most of those deported were women and children seeking safety in northern Ghana.

“UNHCR calls on the government of Ghana to cease these expulsions, which amount to a violation of the non-refoulement principle, and guarantee access to the territory and asylum to nationals of Burkina Faso seeking international protection,” said the U.N. refugee agency in a statement.

In response, Ghana’s security ministry said the accusations that people were expelled were baseless and Burkina Faso citizens who wanted to return were being repatriated.

“The repatriation process is consistent with international protocols on the management of refugees, and has so far been implemented in collaboration with Burkinabe immigration authorities along the Ghana-Burkina Faso border,” said the ministry.

The U.N. has been collaborating with Ghanaian authorities to protect over 8,000 Burkina Faso asylum seekers who crossed the border.

A reception center has been established in Ghana’s Upper East region with the capacity to hold several thousand displaced people.

Under international human rights law, the principle of non-refoulement guarantees that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel or degrading treatment, or punishment.

Extremist violence linked to al-Qaida and the Islamic State group has ravaged the West African nation for years, killing thousands and displacing more than 2 million people internally. Thousands more have fled across the border.

As of last July, nearly 40,000 people had left, with half going to Mali and more than 11,000 to Niger.