The International Organization for Migration (IOM) this week assisted 61 migrants who were stranded in Niger with voluntarily return to Ghana, bringing the total number of assisted Ghanaians to 1,400 since 2017.
The migrants returned from Niger by road, where they were stranded on their way to Libya. Upon arrival in Accra, Ghana’s capital, IOM joined local authorities in providing assistance, including cash assistance—that is, pocket money—to meet their immediate needs, especially onward transportation to their final destinations.
The returnees told IOM staff that smugglers presented them with “lucrative” deals to persuade them to set out for Libya, despite well-known risks.
“The smuggler showed me pictures of Benghazi, a seemingly peaceful place where we would work,” explained one returnee, Koffi. “Once in Niger, the reality was different. Today, I am happy to be back. I would never advise anyone to embark on such a journey.”
Following their return, migrants are eligible for reintegration assistance, which can include counselling, referral to existing programmes and medical and psychosocial assistance. Returnees also may become part of collective community-based projects where they work together with other community members and returnees.
The EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration was launched in 2017 to assist migrants from Ghana and 25 other African countries stranded along the main migration routes to return home and reintegrate within their community.
So far, over 300 migrants here have completed their reintegration process; 934 have participated in reintegration counselling, and 673 have received psycho-social support.
IOM also works with its partners to raise awareness about the dangers of irregular migration and promotes campaigns for safe migration. Since 2017, 124 awareness raising sessions have taken place in communities and schools, while radio and TV broadcasts with similar messages have reached approximately 200,000 Ghanaians nationwide.
“We continue to work with our various partners to ensure that laws and policies are in place to guarantee that people have access to rights and basic services here in Ghana, and to ensure no one is left behind,” said Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Chief of Mission in Ghana said of the returnees.
“We need to encourage communities to embrace returnees and help them re-establish themselves. We need to engage with our youth – who are the future of the country and tend to risk their lives to find greener pastures elsewhere.”Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Organization for Migration (IOM).
Last week, over 60 Ghanaians voluntarily returned home from Niger. Photo: Juliane Reissig/IOM