The International Organization for Migration (IOM) received a mandate in December 2016 to help rescue vulnerable migrants from Ghana stranded en route to Europe. The plan was to bring 650 men and women home within three years. This week IOM met – and exceeded – that initial target, bringing home its 1001st Ghanaian beneficiary as part of a successful run that exceeded all parties’ expectations.
The latest return flight came in a week ago, on 25 January. The project will run until 2020.
“I’m happy that I came back to my family. I didn’t lose my life during my journey or in Libya. I am finally back home,” exulted Fuseini, a Ghanaian returnee who returned from Libya in 2017, one of the first to take part in the program. He hopes to open a clothing shop.
Fuseini is one of the many Ghanaian migrants who were assisted by IOM in cooperation with the European Union (EU) in Ghana and the Government of Ghana. The majority (928 men, 73 women) were assisted from Libya (795) and Niger (195), with balance returning to Ghana from other countries.
IOM in Ghana provides all returnees with assistance upon arrival, including the provision of pocket money to cover immediate needs. All returnees are eligible as well for reintegration support based on their needs which include counselling, education and vocational training, and psychosocial and medical support. IOM also offers referrals for other services or in-kind support through individual, collective or community projects. So far, a total of 556 migrants have been processed to receive reintegration support.
This assistance is funded by the European Union through the three-year EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Ghana, which began in May 2017.
“Given the clear links that have been established between migration and development, the Government is committed to developing strategies that will lead to sustainable reintegration of returnees to enable them to contribute meaningfully to the country’s development,”’ said Rose Tsorhey, Director for Policy Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation at the Ministry of Interior (co-chair of the Project Steering Committee with the EU Delegation.
Added the EU’s Ambassador to Ghana, Diana Acconcia: “The European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa has been created first and foremost in the aim to save lives of migrants. Hence, I am glad to see that through joint initiative, the EU and IOM have already supported the return in dignity of more than 1,000 Ghanaians stranded on the routes, mainly in Libya and Niger.”
The project is part of the larger EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, which facilitates orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration management through the development of rights-based and development-focused policies and processes on protection and sustainable reintegration. The Joint Initiative, backed by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF), includes close collaboration with 26 African countries. It has so far offered assistance to over 58,000 migrants stranded along the migratory routes in Africa to return home safely.
“Supporting the safe and dignified return home of more than 1,000 Ghanaians – many of whom were in detention – is a significant achievement which needs to be acknowledged. However, much remains to be done to support the successful integration of these migrants in Ghana while at the same time continuing to facilitate new voluntary returns and disseminating safe migration messages,” said IOM Ghana’s Chief of Mission, Sylvia Lopez-Ekra.
One in four migrants returned to Brong Ahafo region, followed by Ashanti (17 per cent), Accra (17 per cent) and Western Region (11 per cent).