Globally refugee integration has been one of the three durable solutions that has been used worldwide. Millions of refugees around the world live year after year with little hope of ever returning home. Some cannot because their countries are engulfed by endless conflict or because they fear persecution if they were to return. In cases where repatriation is not an option, finding a home in the country of asylum and integrating into the local community could offer a durable solution to their plight and the chance to build a new life. This study examined the socio-cultural and economic factors affecting integration of former Liberian refugees in Ghana. The specific objectives were to examine the demographic characteristics of L.I applicants and how it affected their integration processes, economic and socio-cultural factors effect on L.I applicants as well as how GRB and UNHCR approach towards integration of refugees in Ghana. The research employed a mixed methods approach with a sample size of seventy (70) respondents for quantitative and eight (8) in-depth interviews consisting of four (4) LI applicants and relevant organizations including GRB, UNHCR, GIS and NADMO (Camp Management) for the qualitative. The concepts of social, cultural and economic integration were used for the conceptual framing of the work. Among the key findings of the study were that; first, 48.6% of the respondents opted to stay in Ghana because of physical security, two-fifth of them (40.0%) used the money received as part of the LI package to pay school fees. The main economic factors affecting the integration of the LI applicants is high standard of living and difficulty in getting access to job opportunities in Ghana. Socio-culturally, more than half (61.4%) of the respondents could not speak any Ghanaian language, which is vital to the integration process, but overwhelming majority (91.4%) responded yes to enjoying Ghanaian food. Again, close to three- quarters (71.4%) mentioned that they belong to a religious group. The study concluded that, support from GRB and UNHCR and some state organizations aided in the integration process through skills training, facilitation of legal documents as well as community integration. It is recommended that, access to social services, acquisition of resources should be made available and accessible to L.I applicants to ensure fairness and balance in acquiring resources. Since issues surrounding local integration are complex in nature, such processes should start from the time the country (Ghana) opens its borders to refugees in order to avoid possible problems at the end of the refugee cycle.
The migration of individuals from one place to another has occurred throughout history. For thousands of years, migrants around the world have chosen to leave their home countries on discovery missions and in search of a better life in foreign places. Unfortunately, many others with little choice have been forced to leave their place of birth. Unlike immigrants, refugees are individuals who have not chosen to leave their home countries. Instead, they have often faced conflict and persecution and have had to settle into new communities with little or no resources.
In June 2019, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) estimate that, about
70.8 million people around the world have been forced from home, Among them are nearly 25.9 million refugees and 3.5 asylum seekers, over half of whom are under the age of 18 (UNHCR, 2019). This rise in the number of refugees, according to UNHCR, is due to the upsurge of conflicts or wars, persecutions, violence and human rights violations across the globe. Africa in recent times has witnessed huge numbers of refugee movements, which has affected its demographic and social structure. Africa constitutes about 12 per cent of the World‘s population but sub-Saharan Africa alone, for example, produced about 26 per cent out of about 25.9 million refugees in the world. Moreover, nine out of the top twenty nations that produce refugees in the world are from Africa. For several decades, Africa has witnessed many armed and violent conflicts, which have forced millions of people out of their homelands into neighbouring countries and beyond (Beck, 2009). Due to the large numbers of refugees produced on the continent, African countries have the responsibility of hosting huge numbers of displaced
persons. In fact, most of the refugees‘ are hosted in the regions, particularly in the neighbouring states.
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