Liberian exiles cast back to sea

Takoradi - A ship with thousands of Liberian war refugees seeking a country to accept them headed back to sea from the port of Takoradi yesterday after Ghana refused to admit them, witnesses said.

Senior aid workers in Takoradi said they heard the captain radio that he was heading for Lagos. The vessel, a Nigerian freighter, Bulk Challenge, was seen leaving the port last night but it was not clear what direction it was headed.

Contrary to reports by port workers, government officials said that not all of the approximately 4,000 passengers had been briefly taken ashore. Security officials, fearing a stampede, had stopped the shore transfer and only the very ill were examined in tents erected on the quayside.

Nearly all the passengers, who are fleeing violence and anarchy in Monrovia, Liberia's capital, are unwanted by the country's neighbours who are tired with its six-year-old civil war and refugee problem.

However, some 200 passengers escaped from their eight-day ordeal on the Bulk Challenge when they jumped on to a barge in Takoradi and refused to reboard, officials said. They were still on the barge last night and were expected to be taken to a refugee camp near the capital Accra.

Ghana, saying it did not wish to encourage an exodus of refugees from Liberia where a six-year-old civil war has flared again, insisted the freighter leave after passengers received provisions and medical care.

"Care must be taken in order not to create a panic situation in Monrovia which will unduly generate more exodus of Liberians into neighbouring countries which are already saddled with playing host to hundreds of thousands of Liberian refugees," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

It cited the need to avoid undermining decisions taken last week on halting renewed civil war in Liberia by the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) of which Ghana holds the presidency.

At least three people have died on the boat - two said to have been shot by Nigerian peacekeeping troops on the freighter during an attempted mutiny. A woman died of internal bleeding.

Senior Nigerians said yesterday that its military government might offer a haven.

As Sierra Leone blocked another vessel with 700 refugees off Freetown, there were signs of international anger at the treatment of the Liberian refugees, particularly the freighter passengers, many of whom are sick, suffering diarrhoea and packed together on board with only one toilet.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadaka Ogata, said: "Unless the door is open to them, a lot of people, many of them women and children, may die." She said the UNHCR was prepared to help countries that grant asylum to the Liberians.

Emma Bonino, the European Union's humanitarian affairs commissioner, said: "I am deeply shocked at the sight of thousands of helpless and hopeless civilians who are being sent from one port to another, and denied the right to proper refuge and assistance."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: E-commerce Executive - UK / International

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be joining a long-established, renown...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - Signs and Graphics

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The key requirements of the rol...

Recruitment Genius: Company Commercial / Company Property Solicitor

£30000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This south Warwickshire based s...

Selby Jennings: Leveraged Finance - Senior Associate - International Bank - Frankfurt

Competitive + bonus: Selby Jennings: My client, a growing European CIB are loo...

Day In a Page

In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible