About 1,900 Ghanaian migrants have been supported to voluntarily return home since 2017 under a Joint Initiative (JI) between the European Union (EU) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM).
Majority of the returnees came back from Libya, followed by Niger and Algeria while 800 of them have so far received reintegration assistance including economic, social and psychosocial support to sustain their stay.
This was revealed by the Project Manager, Pooja Bhalla, at an event held in Accra on Wednesday to mark the four-year achievement of the intervention dubbed “EU-IOM JI for Migration Protection and Reintegration in Ghana.”
Funded by the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, the initiative is part of a regional programme covering 26 African countries with the aim to improve protection, facilitate voluntary return, provide sustainable reintegration and contribute to strengthening migration governance.
The event brought together representatives of key state and non-state organisatrios who have been supporting the initiative.
Ms Bhalla said the economic support given the returnees, involved microbusiness including auto mechanic shops, retail trading in secondhand clothes, groceries, welding and fabrication, which were done either individually or in groups, as well as training opportunities.
For social support, she said, the initiative had provided temporary accommodation, paid school fees of returnees and dependents in addition to psychosocial support given them to help deal with the trauma and stress from abuse they might have suffered.
Ms Bhalla, said 320 awareness creation activities had been held in the last four years to highlight alternatives to irregular migration, promote safe migration and opportunities in counties of origin as well as reduce the stigma and discrimination in communities towards returnees.
She said capacity building of government representatives and other stakeholders for coherent approach for assistance of returnees while the initiative had supported the government to set up migration information centres and develop some frameworks to support related activities.
She noted that, there were a lot of returnees and vulnerable migrants who need support, saying; “We all need to come together and engage, co-ordinate and support those returning to do so in safety, dignity and with respect to their rights.”
The IOM Ghana Chief of Party, Abibatou Wane-Fall, said the impact of intervention had been positive given that those who completed their reintegration process had reached levels of self-sufficiency, social stability and psychosocial well-being making their return sustainable.
“Going forward, the strong network of committed migration stakeholders and partners that had been established over the last four years will ensure that no migrant or returnees is left behind,” she said.
In a video message, a high ranking official of the EU, Diana Acconcia, said the programme had given homes to returnees and for that matter the Union would continue to support such initiatives to ensure safe migration.
The Director of Policy Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation of the Ministry of The Interior, Rose Tsorhey, said the government would do its part to ensure sustainable reintegration of returnees.
BY JONATHAN DONKOR