News Commentary: By Damian Avevor
Migration, generally described as human mobility, is one of the world’s oldest phenomena especially as evidenced from Christian scripture. Abraham, our Father in Faith, became a Migrant when he accepted God’s call to leave his homeland to an unknown destination.
With migration becoming a major issue of contention and debate in modern society, Ghana as a sovereign nation and Africa, in general has a duty to look into the activities of individuals, groups and organizations involved in open recruitment, orientation and facilitation of the youth for irregular migration, which has become a crime against humanity.
As the world prepares to mark International Migration Day, the media in Ghana has been spotted as an institution that can help in campaigning against Irregular Migration by taking key interest in addressing the situation in the country and educate Ghanaians, especially the youth on the risks involved in irregular migration.
December 18 every year is recognized by the United Nations as International Migration Day to remember and identify the challenges of migrant workers as well as their contributions to national development in terms of remittances to the families.
On December 4, 2000, the UN General Assembly (UNGA), taking into account the large and increasing number of migrants in the world, proclaimed December 18 as International Migrants Day.
The day was selected to mark the anniversary of the 1990 adoption by UNGA of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families. The theme for this year’s celebration is: Harnessing the Potential of Human Mobility.
As a way to avert irregular migration, there is the urgent need to educate the Ghanaian citizenry to discern more about migration since what people think about migration does not reflect the reality. The independence of the media places a great responsibility on them to accurately inform the people on exactly what irregular migration is about and the risks involved in embarking on such a journey.
The media therefore needs to brace-up to educate people especially the teeming unemployed youth on fake news about greener pastures abroad which sometimes entices and lures them to embark on such journeys. It is important for people to make informed decisions because most Ghanaians are ignorant of the reality on the ground.
Research indicates that about 70% of Ghanaians would emigrate if given the chance, with 42 % intending to leave the country within the next five years. It is important therefore for the media to enlighten Ghanaians on all of these dangers to enable them to make informed decisions as regards migration.
In Ghana, both internal and external migration have been characterized by young people as seen in female porters otherwise known as Kayayeis in the cities and these have been rescued from ill-treatment in Libya. Migration has enormous opportunities, especially if well managed.
Migrants in general, in spite of some challenging factors, contribute with their knowledge, networks, and skills to build stronger and more resilient communities. The global social and economic landscape can be shaped through impactful decisions to address challenges and opportunities presented by global mobility and people on the move.
A broad range of factors continue to determine the movement of people. They are either voluntarily or forced to move because of the increased magnitude and frequency of disasters, economic challenges and extreme poverty or conflict. Approximately 281 million people were international migrants in 2020, representing 3.6 % of the global population. Between 2013 and 2016, the number of Ghanaians who traveled by sea to Italy alone grew exponentially from about 1,000 to about 5,000 each year. It is not the poor who take the risk of migrating through the Sahara but those who are able to put together some money which otherwise could have been used to start a petty business here in Ghana.
These irregular migrants indeed go through the very dangerous journey through the Sahara with most of them losing their lives.
Women especially arrive at their destination pregnant without knowing who the father of their babies are because they are raped on the journey by several men.
According to information collected by the Ghana Immigration Service, more than 2000 Ghanaians women departed for work in the Middle East between September 2014 and January 2015.
The Bono, Ahafo and the Bono East Regions formerly Brong-Ahafo Region especially in Techiman, Nkoranza, Kintampo and Atebubu have become a known area for unpleasant record for irregular migration among the youth.
Techiman and Nkoranza in particular, have become notorious for open recruitment, orientation and facilitation of many youths for irregular migration. Records from the Ghana Immigration Service indicate that 4,092 were repatriated from Libya in 2017. Out of this number, 1,562 were from the Brong-Ahafo Region.
While encouraging the Government to endeavor to implement the National Migration Policy, there is also the need for the media to push the government to support Regional and International efforts towards addressing the issue of migration with a comprehensive national compact.
Through Media campaigns, a strong caution can be sent to individuals, groups and organizations involved in open recruitment, orientation and facilitation of the youth for irregular migration to stop this crime against humanity.