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GOVERNMENT HAS NOT ABANDONED MIGRANTS

General News

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, has denied that the government of Ghana is not concerned about the plight of Ghanaian economic migrants who are currently confined in a refugee camp in Spain.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, has denied that the government of Ghana is not concerned about the plight of Ghanaian economic migrants who are currently confined in a refugee camp in Spain.

 

Ms Botchway’s statement, which was read yesterday in Parliament by the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Habibu Tijani Mohammed, MP for Yendi, was in response to a recent publication on Ghanaweb that sought to create the erroneous impression that government was not concerned about the plight of Ghanaians in refugee camp on Spain.


According to the minister, the government continues to invest considerable resources in alleviating the suffering of Ghanaian migrants by expanding consular services, including opening new diplomatic missions in places such as Niamey, Tripoli and Valletta.


She added that, in view of the importance government attaches to the issue, closer working relationships has been established with institutions such as the International Organisation for Migration to evacuate Ghanaian nationals back to home whenever the need arises.

                                           Missions responsive

Ms Botchway said that Ghana’s missions abroad have been responsive whenever the plight of Ghanaians has come to their attention through official and non-official channels and pointed out that the recent harsh measures being taken against migrants by some countries have been a source of considerable concern to government.


She promised the House that government is ready to facilitate evacuation to Ghana so long as government is promptly furnished with accurate and reliable information from credible sources.


Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, however cautioned that, while government will always endeavour to do its utmost to protect the welfare of Ghanaians, whenever their presence and plight comes to official notice, it seems rather bizarre to expect government on its own to track the movements of Ghanaians, who are essentially economic migrants, in order to alleviate their sufferings.


“Therefore, those who claim to be so passionately and altruistically concerned about the plight of Ghanaian migrants abroad must be honest and admit that they have a responsibility to share whatever information they come by, from whatever sources, with either our missions abroad or the Foreign Ministry, so that appropriate remedial measures can be taken on behalf of our nationals,” the statement said.

                                           No politics

The Foreign Minister advised the public and politicians that rushing to the media with the sole aim of scoring political points does not offer solutions to the plight of those that they claim to care about. She stressed that such premature publicity is not only ill-advised but could also undermine the rights of the distressed Ghanaian migrants.


Ms Botchway pointed out that her Ministry considers rather unfortunate the publication that appeared on Ghanaweb on Tuesday, June 26, which featured the ranking member of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, accusing the government of neglecting some 29 Ghanaian migrants seeking asylum in Spain.


The minister said there was no evidence in the publication to show that the ranking member had bothered to contact the Ghanaian Embassy in Spain to share his concerns with staff there.


Ms Botchway reiterated that if Okudzeto Ablakwa had taken his time, he could have learned that the Ghana Embassy in Spain was already engaged in close consultations about the plight of Ghanaian nationals with the Spanish Foreign Ministry as well as some non-governmental organisations.

                                           Mission in contact with Spain

She said that in a despatch sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a few days ago, the Embassy of Ghana in Spain provided elaborate details about the unfortunate circumstances that led to the Ghanaians becoming stranded and finding themselves in a refugee camp. She, therefore, stressed that the crisis of youth unemployment facing the nation is not a matter that could be trivialised with superficial politics
“We stand a better chance of helping our nationals who find themselves in difficult circumstances abroad by sharing information, rather than distorting and misrepresenting facts and politicising the plight of victims,” she said.

 


She assured the public that the Ghana mission has visited the persons affected, who have been held as illegal immigrants and are in good health and cheerful spirits, and have not been subjected to inhumane treatment.


Consequently, the Minister revealed that steps are being taken to secure their release under the tenets of international law.

                                            Circumspect

The Speaker, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, cautioned MPs to be circumspect on issues pertaining to the House and not to run commentary on them outside.
In a ruling on the matter, the Speaker denied Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa further opportunity to comment on the issue on the floor.


In an interview with the North Tongu MP, he described the Speaker’s action as a way of gagging members of the Minority and preventing them from speaking their mind. He believes the matter is one of public concern and must be made known to the public and he objected to his questions not having yet been admitted by the Table Office.


The ranking member made a trip to Spanish port city of Valencia on behalf of the Minority in Parliament to follow leads from their international partners that some Ghanaians were on board the boat Aquarius operated by Médecins sans Frontières and the Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranée, which rescued 629 migrants off the coast of Libya.