A Political and Foreign Policy Analyst, Adib Saani, has said that Ghanaians living in Libya who saw returning home as their strongest hope of finding an end to living as refugees in a foreign land feel betrayed as they have not been properly reintegrated into their societies since they returned.
According to Saani, the country’s inability to reintegrate them is also in contravention of UNHCR’s principles of promoting enabling conditions for voluntary repatriation; to ensure the exercise of a free and informed choice; and to mobilize support for returnees.
Mass emigration of Ghanaian nationals started during the period of the country’s economic crisis from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s.Over 4,000 migrants were deported from Libyan 2000, and shot up to 54,000 by 2004. In 2003, 11 percent of all deportees from Libya were Ghanaians, he said.
Saani cited the breakdown of law and order in Libya as a major reason Ghanaian migrants became targets of rebels who accused the Gaddaﬁ regime of recruiting mercenaries from Sub-Saharan Africa to help put down the rebellion. As a result, over 18,000 Ghanaians were directly affected by the ﬁghting. For instance, between 2000 and 2012, 12,201 Ghanaians were deported. The conﬂict in 2011 also occasioned the repatriation of 18,455 Ghanaians.
Government interventions such as the “Evacuation Task Force”, “Emergency Reintegration Assistance for Ghanaian Migrants Affected by the 2011 Libyan Crisis”, “Libyan Returnees Reintegration Assistance Project”, have unfortunately not achieved their intended objectives of successfully reintegrating the returnees, Saani lamented. He stressed that, the reason for this is because these programmes have not been adequately funded thereby limiting its scope.
Saani noted that, fleeing Ghanaian migrants, like others, left their valuables and possessions behind in their haste to secure life and limb. The Libyan unrest cut short the dreams of many young men and women. The sudden return of so many ‘bread winners’ however, ended the ﬂow of remittances to their dependents. Remittances play a major role in household survival in many migrant sending communities in Ghana. He warned that, this has the potential of pushing many of these youth into crime as means of survival. This poses a direct security threat to the country especially in an election year when politicians can easily lure them with money into snatching of ballot boxes and other acts of violence.
Saani, called on Stakeholders to consider providing returnees with health insurance, entrepreneurial training, peace and reconciliation activities, housing and property restitution, return assistance and legal aid. Initiatives such as Youth Employment Authority (YEA), Youth Enterprise Support (YES), Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), and the Microfinance And Small Loans (MASLOC)have a strategic role to play in reintegrating these returnees. He called for groups such as the Returnees Society Ghana (RSG)to be empowered to provide basic services and jobs to the over 22,000 returnees registered with them.