Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey

The Government on Friday announced that evacuation of Ghanaians stranded in foreign countries following the outbreak of the Covid-19, would be extended to other parts of the world.

The Kuwaiti Government last May deported some 230 Ghanaians from gulf nation.

Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration told Parliament, in Osu Accra, that, “following the return from Kuwait, I am pleased to inform this august House about Government’s efforts to extend the evacuation exercise to other parts of the world.”

The Minister’s announcement, was part of her response to an urgent question by Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Ranking Member on the Committee of Foreign Affairs and MP for North Tongu on plans by the Ministry for evacuating Ghanaians stranded abroad following the closure of the nation’s borders in a bid to prevent the importation of Covid-19.

Ms Botchwey said the exercise would be done in phases considering logistical constraints, and announced the schedule of the next phases of arrivals.

Under Phase Two, being done by charter flights, seven persons have been evacuated from Lagos, Nigeria on 5th June; 15 were to be evacuated from Mauritania on the 5th June; and on the 6th June, five from Turks and Calcos; 35 from Washington DC; 14 from Burkina Faso; and four from Mauritania on 9th June, 2020.

Phase Three would be assisted by KLM Charter flights, and there would be 434 and additional one FSO; 299 from New York on 24 June 2020; and 300 from Washington DC on 28th June.

“It should be noted that these arrangements are subject to other requirements in the host countries, which may result in changes in the scheduled dates of arrival,” the Minister said.

She announced that negotiations were currently underway between Ghana’s Mission in Beijing and Ethiopian Airlines for the evacuation of some 675 stranded Ghanaians in China and Ghana’s Mission in Abu Dhabi has initiated discussions with the United Arab Emirates authorities for the evacuation of over 500 of Ghanaian nationals stranded in that country.

Similarly, the Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Ministry has arranged with the Scholarships Secretariat and the National Covid-19 Task Force to evacuate by STC buses, 141 Ghanaian students who completed their language proficiency courses in Benin on 13th June 2020.

The Minister said further arrangements were in progress to assist with the evacuation of stranded Ghanaians in other countries as Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Kenya, Ethiopia and Switzerland.

Ms Botchwey said priority might be given to urgent evacuation requests that required minimal Government intervention, such as pre-arranged charter awaiting flights awaiting landing clearance from Government.

Meanwhile, Mr Ablakwa later at a press conference called for consular assistance for the stranded Ghanaians, particularly in Dubai, as they attracted the attention of the security agencies in affected countries.
“The videos of the ordeals of some of our women are heart-wrenching. Some of them have not changed their clothes of taken a shower for two weeks,” he lamented.

He appealed to the Government to for a more conclusive data collection for a fair and accurate picture of how many Ghanaians were to be evacuated, and a budget line in the Foreign Affairs Ministry for stranded Ghanaians.

Furthermore, the Government should arrange other means of housing the returnees rather than in hotels, for which he complained that their rates were high.

He suggested the use of accommodation facilities not being currently used in the universities and Senior High Schools.

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