Yesterday the Daily Graphic – the Ghana newspaper that is something of a mouthpiece for the govt – had an article that Ghanaians up north were crossing the border into Togo to flee ethnic violence. The article also showed up on BBC. (See it here too)
Eric and I, while not unsympathetic to the refugees plight, sniggered at the Togolese authorities response:
“Our immediate task is to find the resources to provide these refugees with emergency relief supplies, security, feeding, clothing and temporary rehabilitation structures.”
In other words, Togo was looking for money from the international community to help them in this situation. Yet there is little doubt that most of the money would be “eaten”. That is to say, put in the pockets of local authorities… as little as possible would go towards refugees.
But then, lo and behold, today the Daily Graphic had an article on a meeting between high level government dudes of Togo and Ghana (including Ghanaian president Mills). They renounced this horrible press rumors. There were really only 1000 refugees in Togo, they stated.
Surely, it is highly embarrassing for the Ghanaians to imagine that their own citizens would seek refuge in the poor neighbor country that they tend to look down on. Of course they would react strongly to put a stop to the international press that is (possibly) airing Ghana’s dirty laundry.
I don’t know how many refugees are actually in Togo, and how much of the story was fabricated by the Togolese to get international money, and how much is being refuted to save Ghanaian pride. I don’t intend to go up North to find out. But I’m learning to “read between the lines” of press stories!