By Papisdaff Abdullah
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is making arraignments to facilitate the return of some 200 Ghanaians home from Libya. This announcement was made by Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway. 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.
This 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, 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 Ghana’s 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 in December to discuss the government’s intervention policies to protect Ghanaians in Libya.
After the meeting which involved the country’s 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.