The number of irregular migrants from Ghana to Italy rose from 4,450 last year, to 5,545 from January to November, this year, Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, the International Organsiation for Migration (IOM) Chief of Mission has disclosed.
Ms. Lopez-Ekrah said the number of irregular migrants could be more because some of the migrants would hide their identities as Ghanaians, because the reasons for leaving Ghana to seek asylum were deceptive to the Italian authorities.
Political persecution and civil strife are some of the reasons cited by the irregular migrants and these are non-existent in Ghana.
The IOM Chief of Mission told the audience at the premiering of a documentary “Wallah–Je te Jure,” that the irregular migrants arrived in Italy to seek greener pastures through unapproved routes, at the perils of their lives, travelling from Ghana through the desert to Libya and then to Lempudesa, an Island in Italy.
Ms. Lopez- Ekrah said the number of deaths associated with the irregular migrations from the West Africa sub-region to Italy, also rose from 3,600 to 4,700, including Ghanaians, though she could not provide the figure.
“This film seeks to open the eyes of the world about what is happening in irregular migration,” she said adding “a lot of Ghanaians have taken to this dangerous irregular migration”.
She said migration information centres have been established in Accra at the Ghana Immigration office and in Sunyani to assist people with the information they require to travel legally and the dangers associated with irregular migrations.
The IOM Chief of Mission expressed the need for prospective irregular migrants to take advantage of the alternative livelihood projects available and desist from travelling abroad through unorthodox ways.
The “Wallah-Je tu jure” which was produced by IOM Niger was premiered as part of the Global Migration Film Festival to commemorate International Migration Day scheduled on December 18 to highlight the issue of irregular migration that has become a global challenge.
The film which was strategically shown to the Nima community, a suburb of Accra, believed to be one of the origins of irregular migrants, tells stories of African men and women travelling through dangerous and irregular routes to get to Italy.
From small villages in West Africa to the Ghettos of Agadez in Niger and the Sea, the film gives a vivid account of how the irregular migrants embarked on the journey to Italy and the obstacles migrants face in the risky journey.
The United Nations Resident Coordinator, Christine Evans-Klock noted that poverty was one of the reasons that people ventured into irregular migration and underscored the sustainable development goals, the global development agenda that sought to end poverty in all its forms and “leaves nobody behind”.
She expressed the need to integrate refugees and irregular migrants into communities and the need to uphold their fundamental human rights.
The Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, Heather Cameron, urged people to stay safe and avoid irregular migrations, expressing the hope that the film would make a difference in addressing irregular migration.
Superintendent Mark Boakye of the Ghana Immigration Service, who provided a further interpretation of the film that was largely in French, urged the public to patronise the immigration information centres to be informed about the dangers of irregular migration.
Eric Opoku Ware, the Founder and President of Sahara Hustlers, gave account of his experience on how he travelled to Libya through the desert to seek greener pastures in Italy , saying that it was a dangerous venture and urged the youth who want to engage in irregular migration to avoid it to save their lives.
By Salifu Abdul-Rahaman