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14 July 2017

Saudi Arabia to deport 800 Ghanaians

Ghana’s Embassy in Saudi Arabia is processing 800 illegal Ghanaian migrants there for deportation following the expiration of an amnesty granted them to leave or be sanctioned.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey told Parliament government will subsidize the travel cost of the affected persons.

“The Riyadh Mission has already processed over 800 Ghanaians for departure. In order to discourage people from violating the amnesty and risking arrest, the Mission is making efforts through social and electronic media to propagate the information in Ghana and Saudi Arabia,” the Minister said.

She said the International Organization on Migration (IOM), which helps in such situations, has also been contacted to help in getting the deportees back home safely.

The Minister was speaking in Parliament Thursday in response to questions about what is being done to protect Ghanaian migrants in the Middle East from abuse.

She announced government plans to set up a secretariat to deal with the issue of human trafficking.

Regarding the issue of some Ghanaian who died on June 1 this year in Libya while trying to reach Europe, she said the Ministry is yet to get concrete information on the incident.

Some survivors told Red Cross that some 44 people they were traveling with, died of thirst after their truck broke down on the Sahara Desert in northern Niger.

Nigerian News site Sahelien reported that the dead included several children part of a group of Ghanaians and Nigerians trying to get to Libya then.

Related: Over 40 people ‘die of thirst’ in Sahara Desert

But Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said said the Ghana Embassy in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso, which has concurrent accreditation to Niger, is yet to receive any formal notification or request for assistance from Nigeria.

“The Ghana Embassy has requested information from the relevant Nigerian authorities and the outcome will guide responses. Red Cross, which reported the incident and numbers, have also not notified the Embassy and the Ministry,” added.

She said Ghana’s Red Cross office said the information it has on the issue is inconclusive, so the veracity of the information is yet to be established.

On recent media reports that some Ghanaians deported from the US were maltreated whilst on the flight, the Minister disclosed the US Ambassador was summoned by the ministry and he denied they were handcuffed, starved and denied the use of the use of the washrooms on the plane.

Robert P. Jackson explained to the Foreign Affairs Committee of Parliament Thursday, that those affected were deported involuntarily as they had attempted to resist deportation.

The deportees were sent home for various offences, ranging from drug possession, larceny, assault, theft, sexual assault, identity theft, illegal entry, forgery/fraud, resisting arrest and other non-criminal offences.

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