General News of Wednesday, 7 March 2018
Over 200 Ghanaian migrants in Libya are set to return home with the assistance of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway has announced.
A report by IOM in February revealed that about 53,200 illegal Ghanaian migrants are still in Libya.
The report ranked Ghana as one of the countries with the highest number of illegrant migrants in the war torn Northern African country.
Out of the 12 countries ranked, Ghana came 5th followed by Nigeria and Mali. Niger topped the list of countries with 78,723 migrants followed by Egypt, which had a total of 78,616 migrants in Libya.
The Minister’s announcement comes months after some 127 Ghanaian detainees were rescued from Libya following a CNN’s footage of migrants being auctioned off as slaves in Libya.
Addressing Parliament Wednesday march 7, Mrs Botchway said the IOM in a letter dated March 5, 2018 “informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration about an upcoming evacuation and voluntary return of approximately 151 Ghanaians by charter.”
The Ministry, she told the House, has accordingly informed the National Disaster Management Organisation and the Ghana Immigration Service about the repatriation exercise.
Following the ghastly CNN footage, the Minister said she convened a meeting with other partner Ministers and Agencies on December 5 2017 to discuss the government’s intervention policies to protect Ghanaians in Libya.
After the meeting which involved the Interior Minister, the deputy Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, the Comptroller General of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration they embarked on a fact finding mission to Libya to ascertain the facts on the ground and establish the extent of the involvement of Ghanaians in the alleged slave trade whether as victims or perpetrators.
The team, she added, was also to assist Ghanaians who were willing to return home voluntarily by issuing them with travel certificates after which the Ghana Mission will liaise with the Office of the IOM in Tripoli for their repatriation.
She said whilst in Libya, the team interviewed inmates in six detention camps in Tripoli vising four namely; Tariqsika, Tariqmatar, Yansuru and Bengasa.
“For security reasons and upon advice of the Libyan authorities inmates of the other detention camps namely Zawia and Saitura were transported from their base to the Tariqsika base to enable the team interview them,” she said.
In all, she said 76 individuals who had indicated that were Ghanaians before their arrest were presented to the team for interview and the team confirmed 72 of them as Ghanaians and the four whose nationality was in doubt were suspected to be Nigerians and Sierra Leoneans.
“These 72 Ghanaians have been arrested and detained for various offenses including entering Libya illegally, possession of fake documents including fake Ghanaian passports, attempting to embark on the perilous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe or arrested on the High seas,” she said.
Out of the 72, Mrs. Botchway told the House that 70 Ghanaians indicated their willingness to return to Ghana as soon as possible.
“These notwithstanding the team issued travelling certificates to all the 72 Ghanaians,” she said.