International Migrants Day celebration

Accra – The Ghana Government and stakeholders in the field of migration have jointly organized a media briefing and photo exhibition to mark International Migrants Day. In an address, Ghana’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, observed that “the effectiveness of actions to tackle migration related challenges hinges on the willingness of governments to act cooperatively and to keep the channels of communication open in devising common solutions.”

With such spirit of cooperation, the Minister pledged Ghana’s commitment to “work with other nations, international organizations, Ministries, Departments and Agencies to develop the right strategies and build the necessary synergies that would enable Ghana to play a lead role in the collective bid to deepen and guarantee the human rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants.”

Alhaji Mumuni pointed out that the significance of the Day and its objectives were in line with his Ministry’s goals of promoting and protecting the interests of Ghana and its citizens abroad.  He recalled the unfortunate incident in The Gambia in which some Ghanaian migrants lost their lives and stressed that “such unfortunate incidents enjoin us to collectively reflect on the measures and mechanisms that can be put in place to maximize the benefits of migration while working to minimize its common problems and negative impacts.”

The Minister noted that the United Nations set the day aside to create a platform for the world community to examine existing laws, practices and procedures that adversely affected the rights and fundamental freedoms of migrants. He said despite worldwide recognition of migrants significant contributions to development, all categories of migrants continue to be abused of their rights and privileges simply because of “their common status as non-nationals” in the countries they resided.

He stressed that, migrants of all categories – workers, students, professionals and their families “bring their brain and brawn resources to directly bear on the socio-economic development in the receiving countries while remittances from migrants have recently begun to outstrip Official Development assistance to many developing countries with Ghana as one of the eloquent examples.”

Remittances from Ghanaians abroad, Alhaji Mumuni pointed out,  play a very significant role in creating diverse sources of livelihoods and opportunity capital for many Ghanaian families and that such remittances have positively contributed to  assisting the implementation of government policies put in place to achieve poverty reduction and economic empowerment of the population.

According to the Minister, foreign direct investment from emigrants, tourism, philanthropy, fund-raising for various causes and the desire for the foods and products of country of origin creates markets for those products in the receiving country and thus encouraged local production and boosted international trade.

The UN Secretary-General, H. E. Ban Ki-moon in his message presented by the UN Resident Co-ordinator in Ghana, Ms. Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, mentioned that when safe and through regular channels, migration could benefit all but the “opportunities for regular migration have diminished as rising unemployment has spurred discrimination.”

Mr. Ban pointed to the contributions of migrants to strengthening global economy and human development, enriching societies through cultural diversity, sharing knowledge and technology and balancing aging populations.

He lamented that while for some individuals migration was a positive and empowering experience, many others they endured human rights violations, xenophobia and exploitation.

While supporting the call by the Global Migration Group to promote and protect the fundamental rights of all persons, regardless of their migration status, Mr. Ban urged countries that are yet to do so to ratify the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and their Families.

The Chief of Mission of the International Organisation for Migration in Ghana, Ms. Dyane Epstein, delivered the message of the Director-General of the International Organisation for Migration, Mr. William Swing.

He indicated that there was no single country that had not been touched by human mobility. He said it was estimated that there were about 214 million migrants worldwide with about 182 million living in developed countries. In spite of overwhelming evidence of positive contributions migrants make to society there were ’heated debates’ regarding their impact on national identity, security, employment, health and social welfare systems.

However, Mr. Swing dismissed such arguments saying they were based on “emotions and myths and not on social and economic realities.”  He stressed that despite the global financial and economic crises, the number of international migrants have continued to grow and that the trend will continue in the years ahead.

Mr. Swing gave highlights of the last November meeting in Mexico of the Global Forum on Migration and Development. The discussions included policy coherence, cooperation between countries of origin and destination, the development impact of remittances, enhancing diaspora groups as agents for development, preventing brain drain and protecting the human rights of migrants.

The IOM Director-General commended the Ghana Government for initiating the process of developing a comprehensive migration and development policy and implementing activities to promote the benefits of migration for development.

In his presentation on behalf of the Director of Immigration, Dr. Prosper Asima, an Assistant Director of Immigration, observed that Ghana was gradually becoming a transit and migrant destination and in the wake of an oil economy, this would continue. Also the number of women migrants was increasing as a large number of them have become primary breadwinners.

Dr. Asima mentioned that mobility pattern has become more temporary than permanent as a result of the institutionalization of dual citizenship by many countries including Ghana. He therefore called on governments worldwide to “design and implement legal and policy frameworks that measure to the immense challenge of contemporary migration.”

He said migration pressures were bound to increase in response to population growth, increased access to cheaper communication and transport, better information and work opportunities, more stable emerging economies and disparities in economic development among countries.

A Director in charge of Migration at the Ministry of the Interior, Mr. David Agosu who represented the Minister chaired the function. He urged Ghanaians abroad to educate their family members and colleagues back home of the dangers involved in illegal migration and advise them to migrate legally.

Photographs displayed show-cased the work of IOM in the country.