IOM, gov’t and CSOs move to protect rights of vulnerable Ghanaian migrants

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) and seven key Ghanaian Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) have issued a joint statement aimed at protecting migrants at home and abroad.
The statement is a result of a workshop held in Accra on December 15 in commemoration of International Migrants Day 2016. The institutions involved are: the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Labour Department, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), Ghana Police Service and IOM.
It seeks to address the numerous challenges arising as a result of the increasing migration of Ghanaians for domestic work abroad.  Participants focused on issues of exploitation of migrant workers, particularly Ghanaian women and girls in the field of domestic work. According to information gathered by GIS, over 2,000 women departed for work in the Middle East between September 2014 and January 2015. Since then, over 350 of them have returned, reporting inhumane working conditions and hours, physical, emotional and sexual exploitation and non-payment of salaries.
Government  has taken numerous measures to better migration management including setting up a Migration Information Centre and a Migration Information Bureau, which act as a one-stop-shop for information for potential migrants; signing of a bilateral agreement on labour issues with the Government of Jordan; creation of an association of employment agencies; sensitization of Ghanaian ambassadors and relevant stakeholders; development of a National Migration Policy; establishment of a unit at the Kotoka International Airport in Accra to identify potential victims of trafficking prior to departure and providing return and reintegration assistance to returnees through IOM.
However, recognizing the increasing challenges and the continued exploitation of migrants, the aforementioned MDAs and IOM, reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion and protection of the rights of vulnerable Ghanaian migrants at the workshop through the joint statement and made recommendations on the development of standardized operating procedures, information sharing and data collection protocols, provision of pre-departure training and orientation, improved monitoring of recruitment agencies and provision of systematic reintegration assistance among others.
The joint statement on protecting migrant workers at home and abroad acknowledged the challenges at every stage of migration (pre-departure, departure, in host countries, return and post return) and consequently the need for a whole of government approach. Through this statement the participants recommitted themselves implementing the recommendations to ensure safe and humane migration and decent work for all Ghanaian migrants.
Speaking in an interview with the media, IOM’s Chief of Mission, Sylvia Lopez-Ekra noted the fight against international  trafficking and exploitation of vulnerable Ghanaians for domestic work abroad especially women has been a major concern which will require step up efforts from all. “We’ve decided that it has to be a whole of government and a whole of society approach and all the ministries have to work towards achieving results”.
She also calls for increased efforts and awareness creation and sensitization on the part of all stakeholders in the migration sector so as to put a stop to the ‘devilish’ act.
Sylvia Lopez-Ekra cautioned Ghanaians who want to migrate abroad for any domestic work to do so only through licensed recruitment agencies in the country to avoid being victimized or abused later.
She announced the Labour Department is currently mandated by law and has a list of licensed recruitment agencies to facilitate recruitment and migration processes outside the country adding, it will very soon be publishing the list at the district levels so that everybody can have access.
The workshop was held under the auspices of IOM’s Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA) project which aims to bolster the Government of Ghana’s migration management efforts, funded by the European Union.
In attendance also were representatives from the European Union Delegation to Ghana, Embassy of the United States, British High Commission and civil society organizations
By Joseph Kobla Wemakor ||Ghana

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