By Gifty Arthur
The year is barely halfway through and already, figures from the Italian Ministry of the Interior, show that about 6,736 people, have migrated to Italy to seek for greener pastures, that is the information available to the President, John Dramani Mahama.
Also, in February alone, the Italian Navy and Coast Guards, rescued more than 700 migrants from six boats off the coast of Libya, Morocco, Senegal and the Gambia; which serve as transit points, and later cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe and America, without relevant travelling documents.
“This situation is considered dangerous and quite often results in deaths, incarcerations and sometimes assassinations. This has a potential of having an adverse effect on the country’s economy”, Mr. Mahama said.
According to President Mahama, whose speech was read for him by the Interior Minister, Prosper Douglas K. Bani, at the launch of the “National Migration Policy” last Tuesday at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC), the policy document is to help Ghana manage its internal, intra-regional and international migration flows for poverty reduction and sustained national development.
President Mahama explained that, National Migration Policy (NMP), is a bold attempt by government to provide a comprehensive framework to manage migration for Ghana’s sustainable development.
He said, the NMP, has been developed against the backdrop of several policy frameworks such as the 1992 Constitution, the 2006 African Union (AU) Strategic Framework for Migration, and the 2008 Economy Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Common Approach on Migration, the Ghana Shared Growth, and Development Agenda II of (2014-2017).
“It is common knowledge that irregular migration has become a thorny issue which various counties are grappling with. Irregular migration poses multiple challenges to countries of origin, transit and destination, as well as, to the migrants themselves, the president emphasized.
Government he said, has taken a keen interest in the area of migration management, and holds the view that mainstreaming migration into development, would be adequately achieved if there was a policy framework underpinning the processes.
It is a comprehensive and integrated reference document, which would provide a broad range of strategies on various migration related issues to guide makers and all other stakeholders.
He revealed plans by government to soon establish the Ghana National Commission on Migration, a body specifically mandated to manage migration and its related issues to provide interventions in line with the NMP.
Head of Mission, International Organization for Migration (IOM), Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, said the adoption of a migration policy for Ghana is timely. She said in recent past, migration, has been and continues to be, one of the defining issues, dominating the international agenda.
“In Ghana, migration has also been a central issue in 2015. Young men, at an increasingly young age, risked their lives in the desert and on unseaworthy vessels on the Mediterranean Sea to reach Europe. Last year, we recorded exceptionally high numbers of arrivals with close to 4, 500 Ghanaians arriving in Italy by sea”, she said
The Ambassador of the European Union (EU), William Hanna, said aside the launch being timely, over the past year, migration issues have risen to the top of the agenda, and have become of crucial importance, both for Ghana and for the EU. He admitted just like many speakers that “the issue of migration is here to stay. Demography and economy tell us”, he said
Citing the Valletta Summit in Malta less than 6 months ago, where various heads of state and government of the EU and head of states from Africa countries, including President Mahama made statements on the issue, he said the first message that was shared was the “Migration and refugee flows are phenomenon that concerns both Europe and Africa, as we well are, at the same time, countries of origin, transit and destination :there are more migrants and refugees on the move within Africa than from Africa to Europe. We are in this together”, he said.
According to Mr. Hanna, his visit to the Brong Ahafo Region, where records show that most illegal immigrants from Ghana through to Libya to Europe come from, he learnt at first hand, “grim and harrowing stories of the young men and women who risk their lives to travel across the Sahara. They face untold suffering. I firmly believe that it is our duty to work together to give them alternatives”.
The Italian Ambassador to Ghana, Laura Carpini, commended government for bringing into being, the document revealing, “Italy is hosting the largest Ghanaian community in Europe”.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma South and chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Defense and Interior, Fritz Baffour, admitted migration is “very much part and parcel of our existence and we have to accept it”. He mentioned some of the causes of migration as war, diseases, greener pastures.