Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, in a parliamentary briefing yesterday, said that 151 migrant Ghanaians in Libya had opted for voluntary repatriation.
She maintained that the International Organisation for Migration (IMO) in a letter dated March 5, 2018 to the ministry said those 151 Ghanaians would be brought to Ghana by a chartered flight.
A five-member investigative team set up by her ministry to probe a CNN report that some Ghanaian migrants are being brutalised and sold as slaves in Libya, has confirmed the report.
According to the team, some Ghanaian migrants are being offered for sale in that country to those in need of cheap labour by other Ghanaian ‘ghetto’ owners in collaboration with their Libyan accomplices.
The team, made up of officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Interior, as well as the research department of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), went to Libya and carried out the investigation from February 5 to 10, 2018.
They claim to have interviewed 72 Ghanaians from six different detention camps in Tripoli accused of various offences, including entering Libya illegally, using fake passports and attempting to embark on dangerous voyage across the Mediterranean Sea to Europe.
After the interaction with the 72 people, 70 of them indicated their willingness to return to Ghana and the ministry of foreign affairs is therefore, liaising with the IMO to repatriate them.
But two of them said that they were still bent on seeking greener pastures in Europe and so they would not return home.
According to Ms Ayorkor Botchway, with this information, the ministry also told the Ghana Immigration Service and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) about the imminent repatriation of these Ghanaians and would need to prepare for their arrival.
She told parliament that out of the 72 Ghanaians held up in detention camps, 16 are from the Central Region, 15 from the Brong-Ahafo Region, 11 from the Western, nine from the Ashanti, eight from the Northern, six from the Greater Accra, four from the Upper East and three from the Eastern Regions, while the other three could not tell which regions they come from.
Ms Ayorkor Botchway indicated that the team further established – after consultations with leadership of the Ghanaian community in Tripoli – that there are between 10,000 and 18,000 Ghanaians in Libya with a sizeable number legally resident.
Mr Speaker, with regard to involvement of Ghanaians in the trafficking and exploitation of other Ghanaians, the team observed that our nationals have set up camps along the routes across the desert where they exploit and traffic fellow Ghanaians,
the minister said
She, therefore, issued a stern warning to all those Ghanaians involved in the crime that very soon the law would catch up with them.
She also indicated that in order to protect Ghanaians travelling to Libya through Niger and other bilateral engagements with Libya and Niger, Cabinet had given approval to the ministry to open consulates in Tripoli, Libya and Niamey.