Over 100 stranded Ghanaians have been rescued from Libyan detention camps on Tuesday, an International Organization for Migration (IOM) officer told Myjoyonline.
IOM partnered with the Government of Ghana and the Airport Authorities to facilitate their return via charter flight from Libya to Kotoka International Airport. It is the fourth charter flight organized by IOM and the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration. The programme allows Ghanaian migrants in Libya to return home voluntarily. Since 2017, 661 men and 45 women have settled back in Ghana through the initiative.
“The number of Ghanaians returning from detention situations in Libya still remains high, highlighting the need for continued interventions to ensure their protection,” said Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana's Chief of Mission. “Our priority is to ensure the safe and dignified voluntary humanitarian return home for all Ghanaians in need in Libya.”
An IOM tracking matrix finds there are more than 62,000 Ghanaians living in Libya. They are among the top five of different nationalities living in the North African country preceding Egypt, Nigeria, Chad and Sudan.
Prior to a migrant’s return, IOM follows a stringent protocol procedure, which includes pre-departure interviews, medical examinations and the facilitation of travel documents. Upon arrival, all returnees are screened by Port Health, a Ghana-registered immigration service and are inspected by Ghana Police Service, Bureau of National Investigations and Criminal Investigations Division. Upon completion, they are registered with IOM, where food, water and pocket money is provided.
Most returnees settle in the Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Greater Accra regions, though recent reports show they are beginning to dwell in the Western region, where 18 percent of returnees reside.
Why Ghanaians leave
Earlier this year, a Pew Research Centre survey reported that 75 percent of Ghanaians would leave their country if they could. The reasons as to why range, but the study revealed a lot has to do with high unemployment rates and low wages.
“Against this backdrop, sub-Saharan Africans could see migrating to countries with more – and better paying – jobs as a means of improving their personal economic prospects,” the study reports.
But alternatively, a growing number of Westerners are making the trek to Africa. Take Nadia Balogou, an American brand specialist who left her job and moved to Ghana.
"There’s quite a lot to observe and absorb here. I’m captivated by the creativity and the people that make up this unique country,” she said.
The uptick of Ghanaians fleeing the country has captured the attention of President Akufo-Addo, who addressed the crisis during the 5th German-African Economic Forum in Germany earlier this year.
“We have a duty to make things work…let’s make things better for our people, especially our youth so they stay here and work to develop the continent,” he said.