Home POLITICS Government should’ve opened borders to stranded Ghanaians before Kuwait deportation

Government should’ve opened borders to stranded Ghanaians before Kuwait deportation

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Ranking Member on Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has questioned government’s decision to allow Ghanaians to be deported before they were granted access into the country.

Ablakwa in a statement indicated that government ought to have opened the borders earlier to Ghanaians stranded in other parts of the world.

“As we welcome 245 of our compatriots back home from Kuwait later today; the point must be made that it shouldn’t have taken an act of deportation by the Kuwaiti Government at the expense of the Kuwaiti taxpayer to compel our Government to grant access to the Kotoka International Airport to our fellow Ghanaians. Never mind that the Akufo-Addo Administration despite its border closures has continued to open the airport for other nationals to be evacuated out of Ghana by their Governments.”

Mr Ablakwa issued the statement on the back of an announcement made by Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, that some 245 Ghananains based in Kuwait will return to the country after they were deported by the Kuwaiti government.

Kojo Oppong Nkrumah at a press briefing on Friday announced that government will be bringing back some 245 Ghanaians deported by the Kuwait Government because they entered the country illegally.

Although Ghana’s borders remain closed, the Information Minister announced that the borders will be opened today, Saturday, May 21 to allow these deported Ghanaians back home.

Mr. Ablakwa however said government’s general response to calls to return citizens stranded abroad back home has been very poor.

“I must emphasize, however, that the Akufo-Addo-led Government’s policy on stranded Ghanaians abroad has been most insensitive, uncoordinated and absolutely inept. This is quite surprising for a President who once served as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration. If Government had listened to some of us a while back, we could have engaged in high-level bilateral negotiations with counterpart Governments to assist us in bringing back home stranded Ghanaians instead of opening our airport to the many empty chartered flights over the last two months.”

He described as “unacceptable and embarrassing that while many countries have carried out multiple rounds of evacuation from Ghana and elsewhere, our Government is still pussyfooting with claims that they are collecting data and engaged in internal discussions after all these weeks. No one must be told that the matter in issue requires a high sense of urgency and prioritization.”

The North Tongu legislator also indicated that it would have been more dignifying for government to allow Ghanaians to return to the country on their own accord than to have them sent home in this manner.

“Many of the Ghanaians arriving today from Kuwait have harrowing stories to tell. For many weeks since the outbreak of COVID-19, we heard them, saw their videos and read their petitions after claims that they were unfairly dismissed and ejected from their places of work. As Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, I saw the video appeals they put together insisting they had funds to purchase their own tickets if only Government shall agree to grant them access to our airport. Certainly, that prospect compared with deportation would have been more dignifying and they would have been proud of the country they have always called home.”

Ablakwa in his statement also called for an investigation into how these deportees ended up in Kuwait despite a ban on recruitment travels to that part of the world since 2017.

“Government must switch from its perfunctory posture and look deeper beyond the claims of Kuwaiti officials. The investigations I call for must necessarily look into how these Ghanaians left our shores in the first place? Which recruitment agencies arranged their travel? How did recruitment agents come to collude with state officials from the Employment Ministry all the way to the Ghana Immigration Service, particularly, when there has been a ban on such travel arrangements to Gulf States including Kuwait since 2017?”

“Beyond calling for thorough investigations, the Minority would be demanding answers in Parliament in the days ahead,” the legislator added in his statement.

Read Ablakwa’s statement below:

As we welcome 245 of our compatriots back home from Kuwait later today; the point must be made that it shouldn’t have taken an act of deportation by the Kuwaiti Government at the expense of the Kuwaiti tax payer to compel our Government to grant access to the Kotoka International Airport to our fellow Ghanaians. Never mind that the Akufo-Addo Administration despite its border closures has continued to open the airport for other nationals to be evacuated out of Ghana by their Governments.

Many of the Ghanaians arriving today from Kuwait have harrowing stories to tell. For many weeks since the outbreak of COVID-19, we heard them, saw their videos and read their petitions after claims that they were unfairly dismissed and ejected from their places of work.

As Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament, I saw the video appeals they put together insisting they had funds to purchase their own tickets if only Government shall agree to grant them access to our airport. Certainly, that prospect compared with deportation would have been more dignifying and they would have been proud of the country they have always called home.

The ordeals and reports of blatant discrimination as narrated by many of these returnees most of whom were domestic workers must be the subject of thorough investigations.

Government must switch from its perfunctory posture and look deeper beyond the claims of Kuwaiti officials.

The investigations I call for must necessarily look into how these Ghanaians left our shores in the first place? Which recruitment agencies arranged their travel? How did recruitment agents come to collude with state officials from the Employment Ministry all the way to the Ghana Immigration Service, particularly, when there has been a ban on such travel arrangements to Gulf States including Kuwait since 2017?

Current developments appear to vindicate respected institutions such as the University of Ghana’s Centre for Migration Studies (CMS) and Migrating out of Poverty (MOOP) which have long maintained following research they conducted that Ghana’s ban on recruitment of workers to Gulf States and the freeze on recruitment licenses have been a disaster as they have failed to halt the practice.

Beyond calling for thorough investigations, the Minority would be demanding answers in Parliament in the days ahead.

I must emphasize, however, that the Akufo-Addo-led Government’s policy on stranded Ghanaians abroad has been most insensitive, uncoordinated and absolutely inept. This is quite surprising for a President who once served as Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.

If Government had listened to some of us a while back, we could have engaged in high level bilateral negotiations with counterpart Governments to assist us in bringing back home stranded Ghanaians instead of opening our airport to the many empty chartered flights over the last two months.

It is unacceptable and embarrassing that while many countries have carried out multiple rounds of evacuation from Ghana and elsewhere, our Government is still pussyfooting with claims that they are collecting data and engaged in internal discussions after all these weeks. No one must be told that the matter in issue requires a high sense of urgency and proritization.

I bet if it had been an IMF loan facility which has just become available for member states, the Akufo-Addo-led Government would have already been bragging about how fast and efficient Ghana’s application was and how we made such a compelling case to receive the biggest allocation.

Ghana can do far better and we sure can place far better value on the lives of our citizens.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
[MP, North Tongu
Ranking Member, Parliament’s Committee on Foreign Affairs]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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