The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the European Union (EU) Delegation to Ghana, in partnership with the Government of Ghana, have marked four years of supporting over 1,800 vulnerable migrants to voluntarily return and re-establish home.
The IOM, together with the Government of Ghana, the EU Delegation to Ghana, and migration stakeholders, including United Nations agencies and development partners, marked the achievements of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Ghana, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, over the past four years.
The EU-IOM Joint Initiative (JI) was launched in Ghana in May 2017 and is part of a regional programme covering and cooperating with 26 countries in North Africa, the Horn of Africa and the Sahel and Lake Chad Region.
It aims to improve protection, facilitate voluntary return, provide sustainable reintegration to returning migrants, and to contribute to strengthening migration governance.
The JI’s inclusive approach involves key stakeholders, such as Government bodies, migrants’ associations, community-based organizations and local communities, to ensure that, in the future, Ghanaians will migrate safely as a matter of choice, rather than necessity.
“We have witnessed the positive impacts of our interventions on returnees. Those who completed their reintegration process have reached levels of economic self-sufficiency, social stability and psychosocial well-being making their return sustainable on the longer term,” Madam Abibatou Wane-Fall, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission said.
“Going forward, the strong network of committed migration stakeholders and partners that has been established over the past four years, will ensure that no migrant or returnee is left behind as we acknowledge their important contribution to national development.” She added.
Madam Rose Tsorhey, Director, Policy Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry of the Interior, said: “Over the past four years, we have progressed a lot when it comes to the safe return and sustainable reintegration of Ghanaian migrants.”
“If we make the reintegration of returnees a success, it will be it a success for us all.
“We have laid solid structures to facilitate sustainable reintegration in a holistic manner, while also advancing migration governance overall,” she added.
Madam Diana Acconcia, Head, EU Delegation in Ghana, in a virtual message, said the EU-IOM JI for Migrants Protection and Reintegration had saved lives, including those of young people who were now better informed about the realities of the dangers of migration, as well as opportunities here in Ghana.
She said the Government of Ghana and the EU-IOM JI for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Ghana, funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, had ensured dignified returns as well as reintegration of Ghanaian migrants .
Madam Pooja Bhalla, the Project Manager, EUTF-IOM Joint Initiative, said said the IOM’s integrated approach to reintegration had been the basis for reintegration assistance to the returnees geared towards ensuring sustainability of return.
She said the same approach was multi-pronged and included economic support – establishment of micro business including auto mechanic shops, retail trading in secondhand clothes, groceries and welding and fabrication.
Since 2017, over 1,800 returnees have been supported to voluntarily return to Ghana.
The majority came back from Libya, followed by returns from Niger and Algeria.
Over 800 returnees have benefitted from various forms of reintegration support.
This goes beyond income generating activities.
Collective and community reintegration interventions have been implemented in various migration-prone communities to benefit returnees, potential migrants and community members.
Next to economic support, returnees may be entitled to receive support with accommodation, training or education for either themselves or their dependents, or medical services.
Due to the inhumane conditions irregular migrants are often exposed to during their journey, including physical violence, torture and abuse, psychosocial assistance is available for returnees, if indicated.
The mental health of returnees is crucial for their successful reintegration into their communities.
One key achievement is the launch of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Reintegration of Returnees in Ghana in September 2020.
Under the leadership of the Government of Ghana, the SOPs were developed to ensure a consistent approach to the management of returns to Ghana and the returnees’ subsequent reintegration.
Over 80 government and non-government migration stakeholders have been trained across Ghana to provide holistic reintegration support to returned migrants.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic had a profound impact worldwide including in Ghana.
Despite restrictions imposed by Government, project implementation continued.
The JI adapted, and, for example, donated Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the Government-run Prampram Quarantine Centre, Greater Accra region, incorporated prevention messages in outreach activities, including via street art, and involved returnees in the production of nose masks for distribution in communities.
Targeting especially the youth, over 300 awareness raising sessions have taken place in communities and schools across the country, while radio and TV broadcasts have reached over one million Ghanaians nationwide.
The national multimedia campaign dubbed “Let’s Talk Migration” provided a platform for the youth to contribute to and engage in the conversation on safe migration – both online and offline.
Among the innovative youth engagement and community-targeted awareness raising initiatives were: (participatory) street art interventions in Takoradi and Accra, as well as youth empowerment project called Playground, which leverages the educational power of basketball to equip the youth with life skills and self-resilience.
The appointment of a Goodwill Ambassador, Ghanaian musician Kofi Kinaata, in 2019 allowed to reach a wider audience through his fan base.