Home About the DRC Research Partners Publications News/Events Links Contact us
  More About or or

> All research projects

Types of Migration
Internal Migration
Global Labour Mobility
Child Migration
Skilled Migration
Forced Migration
Return Migration

Key Themes
Modelling Causes
and Consequences
Links between Migrations
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods
Social Protection
Gender and Generations
Health and Education

UK / international
Albania / Eastern Europe
Ghana / Africa
Egypt / the Middle East
Bangladesh and
South Asia




Project 6c
Liberian Refugees and Rights in Accra, Ghana

A refugee settlement was established in 1990 for Liberians in Ghana in response to the arrival of asylum seekers fleeing civil unrest in Liberia. Between 1992 and 1997, UNHCR provided them with relief materials as well as a multi-sectoral programme. In 1997 when the situation in Liberia was deemed safe for return, UNHCR facilitated the voluntary repatriation of over 3,000 refugees. The vast majority decided to remain in Ghana and in June 2000, all forms of material assistance to Liberian refugees ceased. As the crisis situation in Liberia intensified soon after, new waves of refugees entered Ghana and by September 1, 2003, there were 42,388 Liberian refugees in the country. They have since been without any direct assistance although they still remain refugees. A UNHCR report paints a deplorable picture of conditions in the refugee camp, with no steady supply of potable water, toilets in a state of disrepair, rubbish scattered all over and electricity available to only a quarter of the settlement. Although UNHCR has since mid-2003 returned to the assistance of these refugees, provision is made on a community-wide basis, not on an individual basis. The Liberian refugees have, therefore, been compelled to be self-reliant. This effort has led to a few skirmishes with local residents in recent times over land.

In line with the focus of project 6a, it is important to take a critical look at the issue of rights of Liberian refugees in Ghana in the context of their status vis-à-vis the position taken by UNHCR, the role of the host government and the indigenous community. This research will focus on the coping strategies of the Liberian refugees in Ghana since 1900. A comparative approach will be used to try to identify differences in strategies before and after direct support was withdrawn, as well as between old refugees who enjoyed direct support and new ones who arrived after support had been withdrawn.

Key Research Questions

Dot What coping strategies have refugees used over time and how do they differ among different categories of settlers – gender, education and skills, duration of stay, etc?
Dot How do refugees negotiate for land for housing and farming and in what legal context (statutory and traditional) do they operate?
Dot What lessons can be learnt from direct assistance to refugees (hand-out) versus community-based assistance?
Dot What impact have the refugees made on the immediate community in which they live and on the socioeconomic development of Ghana as a whole?
Dot What lessons can be learnt to help improve the refugee situation in the West Africa sub-region?



Key Theme(s)
Rural Poverty and Livelihoods

Type(s) of Migration
Forced Migration

Ghana / Africa


Richard Black

John Anarfi (ISSER)

Key Activities


Workshop to plan comparative work with other colleagues in the DRC.

2. Field research amongst Liberian refugees in Ghana.
3. Analysis of fieldwork findings.

Key Outputs

Contribution to edited volume

Content for local media

A short-take on 'Long-Term Liberian Refugees Encamped in Ghana'

  © University of Sussex 2003 Text-Only
MDW Site design: Meta Design Work Ltd.
With thanks to IOM and Claudia Natali for the photographs