IOM, Kofi Kinaata welcome over 300 migrants back to Ghana in November
On 18 and 30 November 2021, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted 306 migrants to return to Ghana from Libya, through the Voluntary Humanitarian Return Assistance Programme. Upon arrival of the second charter flight, IOM Ghana’s Goodwill Ambassador Kofi Kinaata joined the IOM team to welcome the returnees at Kotoka International Airport in Accra. To ensure a smooth reception process, IOM worked closely with all key stakeholders of the Government of Ghana.
The charter flights were made possible through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa.
Launched in May 2017, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative is a comprehensive programme created to save lives, and to protect and assist migrants along key migration routes in Africa. “I migrated to Libya early 2021 hoping for better employment. But I am coming home with broken limbs. In Libya, I worked on a construction site. Migrant workers, particularly those in construction, are often harassed and abused. One day, we were attacked by armed robbers on site. We lost everything and I was admitted to hospital,” one of the returnees shared with an IOM staff. “In Libya, how can you sleep well when you are always alert because you don’t know who is coming after you for the little money you have on you. Ghana, my home country, is better and I am happy I came back alive,” said another returnee.
Upon arrival, returnees were tested for COVID-19, an obligatory measure for all arriving international passengers at the airport, introduced by Government last year to curb the spread of the virus in the country.
Due to a recent yellow fever outbreak in Ghana, returnees who qualified received a yellow fever vaccine to reduce their risk of infection, particularly those residing in affected communities.
Subsequently, IOM staff registered the returnees, and provided cash assistance for their immediate needs, including for travel to their destination, as well as food, water and hygiene kits. In the coming weeks, IOM will contact them again to start their reintegration processes.
This assistance may include economic, social and psychosocial services. Psychological screenings were conducted for all returnees to assess the need for psychosocial assistance as well as to create awareness on the psychosocial support services available.
The screenings were carried out in close collaboration with the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) which had previously been trained by IOM’s Psychosocial Assistant and Clinical Psychologist. Among the returnees were 13 migrants with medical conditions, who were provided with necessary treatment and referrals to health facilities in their communities of return.
On 30 November, IOM Ghana Goodwill Ambassador and musician Kofi Kinaata joined the IOM team at the airport to welcome the returnees. He shared words of encouragement and sang together with the arriving returnees.
“I use my music to advocate for safe migration and educate my audience about the risks of irregular migration. It was sobering to meet fellow Ghanaians from many backgrounds and regions of the country, including my own, the Western region. I attempted to give some hope to the returnees I engaged with and to encourage them to re-establish themselves here in Ghana,” said Kofi Kinaata.
Since 2017, IOM has assisted over 2,200 Ghanaians with their voluntarily return home, more than 65% of them from Libya. So far, over 1,100 returnees have completed their reintegration process; an additional 425 are in the process of their reintegration assistance and are receiving counselling.
For more information, please contact Pooja Bhalla, Project Manager at IOM Ghana, at firstname.lastname@example.org