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Libyan Slave trade Saga; Number of Ghanaians affected unknown-Foreign Minister

…as Parliament of Ghana condemns act
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ghana, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, has revealed that the total number of Ghanaians affected in the infamous human slave trade saga that has shaken the continent is unknown.

She made this known when she appeared before Parliament after being summoned by the Speaker,  Rt. Hon. Michael Aaron Oquaye during sitting on Wednesday 29th of November, 2017.

Speaking to the House on events surrounding the slave trade saga in Libya, the Minister indicated that due to the volatile situation on the ground in Libya, it is very difficult to access detention centers in areas controlled by other self-acclaimed governments, other than the recognized one by the United Nations (UN) in that country.

She said the journey to and from detention camps and the capital Tripoli in itself could be a perilous one in view of the volatile situation on the ground.

She indicated that due to the closure of the Embassy in Libya, Mission officials in Malta had to be deployed to offer swift response, intelligence and assistance to affected Ghanaian nationals trapped in the situation.

Hon. Ayorkor Botchway enumerated how, due to the different control powers in different territories in the country, access to the other detention camps other than those in the UN recognized government controlled territories have been made difficult, if not impossible.

Such detention camps included Tajoora, Trek Al Sika and Trek Martar.

She said there are times some of the officials who tried to access detention camps in the other controlled territories had to be deported, placing major hindrance in attempting to reach all detention camps in Libya, and added that even in most cases they have had to rely on assistance from the International Migration Organization (IMO) to progress in reaching to certain detention centers.

She revealed that, there has been widespread worldwide condemnation of the occurrence in Libya, with the Ministry being highly alarmed about the issue.

She also disclosed that, this necessitated the emergency move by the Ministry to send officers to assess the situation, which shows that there were one hundred and sixty eight (168) in detention camps accessed who had apparently been detained on immigration charges.

“Officers, however found no evidence of our nationals (those assessed) being traded off as slaves”. She stated.

According to her, efforts were immediately made to offer travelling documents to those who do not have same, and repatriate all victims through a chartered flight with the help of the IMO. As a result, two flights have so far brought victims over the past week, with the last one arriving just the previous day Wednesday 29th November 2017, which had about one hundred and twenty nine (129) Ghanaians on board including a woman and children, and officials of the Ministry were there to receive them.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said, it is uncertain whether or not some Ghanaian nationals had fallen prey to the slave trade, adding that families of some victims have had to pay ransom as much as (five thousand Ghana Cedis (Gh¢ 5,000.00) to secure their release.

It is therefore possible that those who could not afford the ransom could have fallen prey to the slave trade.

She added that, the Ministry is working closely with stakehold sectors such as the Ghana Immigration Service, the Interior Ministry, the Gender Ministry and every stakeholder to have inter sectorial meeting and interventions in handling this issue and other ones that may possibly arise.

She also disclosed that, tracking illegal migration in the ECOWAS sub-region is very difficult due to the free movement of persons and goods within the sub-region.

Adding that some of the youth uses Burkina Faso and Niger to Libya, also the porous nature of Ghana’s borders is a contributing factor.

She wondered why the negative reportage relating to these travels have not deterred people from taking those dangerous encounters.

According to the Minister, Ghana is now qualified to access the European Union (EU) Trust Fund which was set up at the Paleta Summit held in November 2015, with the aim of among others, helping Africa and Europe deal with the issue of migration.

She asserted that, the access of this fund would go a long way to help in interventions that would economically empower the youth to be self-sufficient, thereby discouraging the phenomenon of illegal migration.

She therefore advised that, the time is ripe for all stakeholders to work together in addressing the push factors behind the continuous migration of our youth at great risk to themselves and even a greater expense to the nation.

Contributing to the discussion, Hon. Armah Kofi Buah, Member for Ellembelle Constituency said the matter needs total condemnation and added that at this moment, the country must focus on the safety of Ghanaians other than any consideration.

He was also happy with the inter-ministerial meeting initiated by the Minister and added that Ghana must have intelligent officers on the ground to feed Ghanaians on accurate information of occurrence on the grounds.

On his part, Hon. Kofi Brako, Member for Tema Central diagnosed the matter as having two cause factors, the push and pull factors.

He added that, once as a nation Ghana is able to empower the youth through meaningful employment, the push factor, which push them to explore greener opportunities would be eliminated.

It is also important, He said, to advise the youth that the pull factors which used to exist in the past times, about the great opportunities that existed in Europe at those times do not exist anymore.

“The objective of the African Union (AU) in seeking a common market for the continent must be taken seriously, and efforts made in solving all barriers should be opposing economic unity” He added.

The business of the day started with the presentation and first reading of the Customs (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill, 2017 and the Income Tax (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2017, all by the Minister of Finance.

Similarly, Reports of the Finance Committee on the ‘Financing Agreement between the Government of Ghana and the International Development Association (IDA) for an Amount Equivalent to Twenty-Eight Million, Nine Hundred Thousand Special Drawing Rights (SDR 28,900,000) (US$40 Million Equivalent) as additional Financing for the Ghana Secondary School Education Improvement Project’ and ‘the 2016 Annual Report of the Public Interest and Accountability Committee (PIAC), on the Management of Petroleum Revenues were separately presented to the House for adoption and approval of which same were adopted and approved.

Committee sittings for the day included (but not limited to) the Committees on Mines and energy and that of Communications

In related development, Hon. Kwame Governs Agbodza, Member for Adaklu asked the Minister of Local Development and Rural Development whether the fourth (4th) quarter allocation of the 2016 District Assembly Common Fund has been released to all Assemblies.

In answering, the Minister indicated that same was allocated duly, and Adaklu Constituency received theirs on 5th June 2017.
The Minister of Agriculture was similarly in the House to inform the House of this year’s Farmer’s Day celebrations which was slated for Kumasi in the Ashanti Region.

Story: Frederick E. Aggrey

 

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