Ghana - An increasing number of young Ghanaians are risking their lives looking for better opportunities abroad, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Ghana said today marking International Migrants Day.
Although migration can mean an opportunity for a better life for many migrants around the world, IOM warns that for youth opting to take an irregular journey, the experience often results in disappointment, danger and sometimes death. The organization pleads for action to curb this trend, including public awareness campaigns, access to education, and increased employment and livelihood opportunities for young people.
The lack of employment opportunities and family poverty are major drivers of migration among youth in Ghana. They often rely on hearsay, their families sell property and acquire debts to finance the journey and they entrust their lives to unscrupulous human smugglers who promise them easy access into the country of their choice. However, many of them in addition to using increasingly dangerous routes, will experience poor care, abuse, torture, or abandonment at the hands of their smugglers, leading to important trauma and even death.
“We need to make potential migrants - especially the young, poor, and those lacking education or skills - aware of the realities and risks of irregular migration. Providing accurate information in a way that will resonate with the youth and in places where they normally spend time is urgent to dispel many misconceptions that exist”, says Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Chief of Mission in Ghana.
A Migration Consultation Center managed by Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and supported by IOM was created 7 years ago in Sunyani, Brong Ahafo Region where the majority of youth migrants originate, to promote safe migration. Through the recently launched project, Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA) funded by the European Union, IOM intends to continue to support the Government of Ghana to increase the capacity of its Migration Consultation Centers in Sunyani and Accra and to organize youth focused information campaigns.
IOM has been active in Ghana since 1987 and has contributed to the efforts of the Government of Ghana to manage migration effectively through a wide variety of projects and programmes.
IOM Accra started its programmes by supporting the institutional capacity-building needs within the country through Phase Two of the Return of Qualified African Nationals (RQAN II) programme (1988-92). This programme facilitated the return of highly qualified African nationals including Ghanaians residing in the diaspora to contribute to the socio-economic development of Ghana by returning home to take up key positions in priority sectors including health, education, economics, finance, public service, and political administration.
Since then, the office has grown to address a variety of migration management needs. During the past 10 years, IOM Accra has been involved in refugee resettlement and the movement of various migrants for family reunification and other opportunities to various countries throughout the world. Other IOM Accra activities include migration policy development, labour migration, migration and development, combating human-trafficking, assisted voluntary returns, border management, information campaigns on the risks and realities of migration, and humanitarian and emergency response.