4,431 Ghanaians migrate to Italy across Mediterranean

A TOTAL of 4,431 Ghanaians arrived in Italy last year, through irregular means in search of greener pastures and to pursue other opportunities.

The migrants, comprising 3,995 men, 155 women, 41 accompanied minors and 240 unaccompanied, used boats to cross the Mediterranean Sea to arrive at the Italian Island of Lampedusa.

This made Ghana the 11th major migrant-sending country in the world using the Mediterranean to arrive in Italy.

The Chief of Mission of the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), Ghana, Mrs. Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, said though people travelled to other countries for various reasons, it was important to identify the key aspects and the challenges that migrants go through before arriving in those destinations.

She announced this when members of the ECOWAS Community Development Programme (ECOWAS-CDP) Media Network called on her.

Mrs. Lopez-Ekra noted that apart from Italy, many other Ghanaians also used similar means to arrive in other countries for similar purposes.

She said Ghana had adopted the national migration policy, which sought to manage its internal, intra-regional and international migration flows for sustained national development.

The policy, she said, had a framework created to address other issues related to diaspora engagements, including their skills and expertise transfer, remittances, education, health and student mobility, among others.

The Chief of Mission stressed the need to look at the linkages between migration and health and the quest of finding appropriate solution to addressing the situation.

“There is the need to work with stakeholders to ensure the formulation of the policy; because Ghana is one of the irregular sending countries,” she said.

The Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA) newsletter indicated that last year saw significant migration events and challenges at the global, regional and international level.

For instance, through the tracking of missing migrants worldwide, the IOM estimated that 3,772 migrants, including refugees, died in their attempts to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe last year.

That accounted for 70 per cent of migrant deaths worldwide in 2015 estimated at 5, 350 deaths.

It said the Organisation also recorded more than million sea arrivals to Europe last year, almost five times the figure in 2014 of 219,000.

“Ghanaians who were among the major nationals arriving in Italy by sea made up of 4,431 individuals comprising 3,995 men, 155 women, 41 accompanied minors and 240 unaccompanied minors,” the newsletter said.

In order to address the challenge, the National Officer of the GIMMA project, Mr. Kojo Wilmot, said IOM together with Ghana Immigration Service, with funding from the European Union, opened a Migration Information Centre in Sunyani, to sensitise people on the right means to travel and the dangers associated with irregular migration.

He said that the opening of the centre was necessary, considering the risk at which some residents in the region travel across the Sahara desert and on high seas in their attempt to reach their final destinations.

Such attempts, Mr. Wilmot said, often have devastating impact on migrants’ families, and the society as a whole.

By Francis Asamoah Tuffour

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