Migration Information Centre Opens in Ghana’s Brong Ahafo Region

Posted: 
02/16/16
Themes: 
Immigration and Integration

Ghana - IOM, the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) and the Brong Ahafo Regional Coordinating Council have launched a European Union-funded Migration Information Centre (MIC) in Sunyani, Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana.

The MIC is part of an effort to promote safe and legal migration. It was funded by the European Union through the Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA) project, which is implemented by IOM and GIS.

The MIC aims to facilitate and empower migrants to travel in a legal, voluntary and safe way. The new building will offer a neutral venue for potential and actual migrants to obtain accurate and reliable information on legal migration procedures and required documentation as well as the risks of irregular migration.

“One of the reasons why people resort to irregular migration is a lack of information about how to travel legally and the real dangers of irregular routes. Empowering migrants with correct knowledge is one of the most effective ways to protect potential migrants from unnecessary harm and loss of life,” said Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission.

William Hanna, Head of the EU in Ghana, said: "To tackle (irregular migration) a worldwide debate is essential, as we had in Valletta few weeks ago. But equally important are local initiatives like this one in Sunyani. The EU will continue working with Ghana's central and local authorities and civil society to manage migration, avoid unnecessary deaths and suffering and offer concrete alternatives to emigration for the young generation."

Prior to the launch, IOM conducted an assessment to understand knowledge, attitudes, practices and behaviours linked to migration. The study indicated that irregular migration occurs on a daily basis from Ghana to various destinations. For many migrants this means travel through the Sahara desert to reach Libya and Europe.

Those who survive this harrowing journey either look for jobs in Libya or attempt to reach Europe by sea. According to the Italian Interior Ministry, some 4,431 Ghanaians arrived in Italy by sea in 2015. They included 3,995 men, 155 women, 41 accompanied minors and 240 unaccompanied minors.

The launch of the Brong Ahafo centre is highly strategic, given the large numbers of mainly young people from the region who risk their lives trying to reach Libya and Europe.  The dangers have increased in the aftermath of the Libyan revolution of 2011, when more than 18,000 Ghanaian migrants were assisted to return home by the Government of Ghana in partnership with IOM. The Brong Ahafo Region received more than half of the returnees and is still coping with their reintegration.

“Over the years, the Ghana Immigration Service, as a lead agency in migration management in Ghana, has tried to bring to the fore the dangers of irregular migration, as well as the benefits of safe migration, to the Ghanaian populace, sometimes with assistance from development partners, particularly the EU and its member countries. The construction of the MIC will further assist the GIS to effectively educate migrants and potential migrants on the dangers of irregular migration and the need to migrate legally,” explained Acting GIS Director Felix Sarpong.

In order to equip GIS officers working at the Centre with adequate knowledge and skills, the project organized a study visit to an IOM-supported MIC in Tunis, Tunisia and major migrant landing sites in Sicily, Italy.

During the visit, the officers learned effective procedures to run a Centre, as well as the importance of forming partnerships with local stakeholders to assist migrants with various needs. The visit also provided the participants with an opportunity to see first-hand the ongoing migration crisis and confirmed the urgency to work together to address the challenges.

Designed to contribute to the Ghanaian government’s efforts to manage migration more effectively, the GIMMA project is helping to build the GIS’s operational capacity to protect the country’s borders; empower migrants to make informed migratory decisions; and improve the country’s migration data management capacity. The three-year EUR 3 million project is funded by the EU under the framework of 10th European Development Fund.

For further information please contact Kazumi Nakamura at IOM Ghana, Email: gimma@iom.int, Tel.: +233 302 742 930 or 0501 295 272.

GIS and EU representatives sign the deed of donation for the MIC. © IOM 2016