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13 July 2017

Saudia Arabia begins processing 800 Ghanaians for deportation

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

According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, government is subsidising the travelling cost of these individuals.

“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 effort through social and electronic media to propagate the information in Ghana and Saudi Arabia. 

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

The Minister was in Parliament Thursday to respond 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 a concrete information on the incident.  

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

They say several children were among the dead. The Ghanaians and Nigerians were trying to get to Libya, reports Nigerien news site Sahelien.

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

But the Minister said since the report 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 Nigerien authorities.

“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.

She said the 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 recently from the US were maltreated whilst on the flight, she disclosed the US Ambassador was summoned by her office over the issue.

But the US diplomat denied they were handcuffed, starved and were not allowed to use the washroom.

Related: Deported Ghanaians were not maltreated – US Ambassador

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 are being 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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