Local integration of refugees: reflections from Liberian refugees in Ghana
This study examines the local integration of former Liberian refugees in Ghana. The objective is to provide insight into the program based mainly on the reflections and views of individual refugees who are taking part in the integration program. This is done not only to gain a better understanding of the phenomenon, but also, ascertain the real impact of the integration program in the refugees’ lives. To this end, the study draws on 14 qualitative interviews from integrating refugees, and officials in charge of the program. To review and highlight the type of resources refugees mobilize in their quest to be active members of the society, the concepts of social, cultural and economic integration; and social agency are used as conceptual framework for analysis. The study findings indicate that, informant refugees are capable and creative people who do not necessarily give up on their lives, by virtue of difficult circumstances. They are knowledgeable individuals, who plan and work for better lives. This is manifested in how they have identified the local integration policy as presenting them with the best opportunities to achieve their self-defined goals and aspirations. In their integration, they have utilized opportunities presented in the integration package given to them, to facilitate their social and economic participation in Ghana. While this package is seen as helping the refugees, it is seen as deficient in the aids presented. Therefore it is incapable of ensuring the complete realization the refugees’ goals. Nevertheless, the refugees have taken it upon themselves to reshape the programs, and devised other coping strategies in addition, to meet their needs and pursue their life goals. Analytically, the study brings evidence to approaches to refugee policies, that the focus on the structural and organizational aspects of programs. It is suggested that for the program’s effectiveness and sustainability, there is the need for refocusing policy discussions and practice from the ‘top down’ to ‘bottom-up’ approaches. In this regard, refugees through their performance (agency) actively contribute to the processes in which policies as local integration is defined, facilitated and accessed. Therefore it is important that their inputs are considered as integral part of these programs and decisions that affect their lives.
ForlagUiT Norges arktiske universitet
UiT The Arctic University of Norway
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