A total of 706 Ghanaian migrants (661 men and 45 women) who were stranded in Libya have been assisted to return home since June 2017 as part of a program on voluntary repatriations, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has said in a statement.
IOM stressed that most of the migrants (70 percent) who were repatriated were previously held at detention facilities in Libya while the rest were living in cities.
Last week, the organization, in cooperation with the government of Ghana and airport authorities, assisted 148 Ghanaian migrants return home from Libya aboard a charter flight. The group, which included four women and two children, arrived at the international airport of Accra after the fourth flight organized by the UN agency for migration as part of a joint EU-IOM initiative to protect migrants and help them resettle.
Action to protect migrants necessary
Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, the head of the IOM mission in Ghana, said that "the number of Ghanaians who return home from a detention center in Libya remains high, stressing the need for constant intervention to guarantee protection''. Lopez-Ekra added that ''our priority is to guarantee a safe and dignified voluntary repatriation for all Ghanaians in difficulty in Libya. At the same time, we must mobilize all possible resources, financial and concrete, to make such returns sustainable for migrants and their communities'', the official added.
According to the organization's data, 62,422 Ghanaians have been identified in Libya since March 2018, with Ghanaians ranking fifth among 38 different nationalities present in Libya after Egyptians, Nigerians, Chadians and Sudanese nationals.
Coordination with Ghana's authorities continues
IOM said in a statement that "given continued insecurity and mistreatment of migrants, in particular at detention centers, IOM will continue to provide the option of a voluntary humanitarian return to Ghanaians and other migrants in Libya and other countries of transit and will continue to coordinate with the government of Ghana to ensure a regular process, registration upon arrival and the subsequent resettlement in the communities of origin'', IOM said in the statement.
The organization said that the main areas of origin of repatriated Ghanaian migrants were originally the regions of Ashanti, Brong-Ahafo and Greater Accra. However, over the last few months, the western region has become the second most popular in terms of the number of repatriations (18 percent). Those who have been repatriated by the UN agency will be assisted to resettle with initiatives including medical services and support, according to specific needs and services available in the country.