SOCIAL:Ghana hosting 13,000 refugees and 12,000 asylum seekers
There are 13,000 refugees and 12,000 asylum seekers currently living in the country, Mrs. Mavis Abo, Protection Associate, at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, (UNCHR) disclosed on Monday.
She expressed concern that commercial activities at the various refugee camps were contributing to environmental depletion, and advised Ghanaians to help revive the depleted environment.
Mrs. Abo was addressing more than 600 students at a forum, organised by the United Nations (UN) through the United Nation Information Center (UNIC) at Fiapre, near Sunyani, to mark this year’s World Environment Day celebration.
The forum dubbed: “joint UN system student outreach programme” was on the theme: “the youth and the environment.”
It was aimed at sensitizing the participants drawn from Sunyani Senior High, Twene Amanfo Senior High and Technical and Notre Damme Senior High Schools, on the causes and effects of climate change, global warming and other environmental challenges.
Mrs. Abo observed the continual use of land for farming and collecting firewood for cooking at refugee camps, adversely affected the environment.
She said that the UNHCR was currently collaborating with the Forestry Services Division to plant 1,800 tree seedlings to help revive the country’s forest.
Mrs Abo advised the students to plant tree seedlings in their various communities.
She said globally, there were 16 million refugees, 12 million stateless people and 26 million internally displaced people.
Mr Godwin Cudjoe, National Programme Assistant in-charge of Natural Resources at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), expressed worried about bushfires and other unhealthy human practices that were gradually leading to desertification in some parts of the country.
He emphasized that the key mandate of the FAO to achieve food security would be a mirage if these unwarranted human practices were not controlled.
Mr. Cudjoe said, consequently, the FAO designed the national forestry plantation facility which gave birth to the Modify Tuangya System.
He explained that under this system, farmers were supported with logistics to plant varieties of tree seedlings, nurture and preserve them along their crops.
He said that currently, the FAO in partnership with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, were undertaking projects aimed at developing best environmental practices.
These projects included “the fight against illegal logging and trade programme,” a four-year programme that sought to help improve forest governance in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, by providing technical assistance and strengthening the ability of stakeholder groups supporting projects to improve forest law enforcement, forest governance and the legal timber trade, Mr. Cudjoe said.
Shoko Takemofo, climate change analyst at the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), expressed concern about the alarming rate of desertification, especially in the Upper East, Upper West and Northern Regions.
She said the UNDP has undertaken a project to improve on the water management system in the three regions, and that farmers in Sisala East and Mamprusi West Districts had been provided with water pumps free of charge to pump water directly from rivers for dry season farming.
Reading materials on environmental management were presented to the participating schools.