Include migrant returnees in COVID-19 recovery plans – IOM Ghana tells gov’t

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The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Ghana, has called on the government to consider including migrants and returnees in the nation’s COVID-19 socio-economic recovery plans, as the world marks the 2021 International Migration Day (IMD).

Miss Pooja Bhalla, the Project Manager, who made the call on behalf of the IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, Abibatou Wane-Fall, said the organisation remained committed to offering innovative, practical solutions to common challenges and providing support for integration efforts, including combating discrimination and xenophobia to realize a future in which migration remained of matter of choice rather than a necessity.

The IMD, which falls on December 18, every year and is instituted by the United Nations, is celebrated globally to discuss and reflect on migration and this year’s celebration is on the theme “harnessing the potential of human mobility”.

Ms Bhalla was speaking at a community forum held at Senase in the Berekum Municipality of the Bono region to climax this year’s celebration of the IMD, attended by Ghana Immigration Service, (GIS), Assembly Members, Traditional Authorities, young creative groups, and migrant returnees.

The IOM organised a series of community interventions in the Berekum Municipality, including float, a new mural, radio talk show, and a film screening, as part of the West Africa edition of the Global Migration Film Festival (GMFF) to celebrate the day.

Ms Bhalla indicated migrants continued to contribute their knowledge, networks, and skills to build stronger, more resilient communities, saying it was imperative for everyone to help protect the fundamental rights of migrants and returnees.

She observed Ghana had over the years achieved significant milestones concerning migration, and mentioned the development of the National Migration Policy (2016), National Action Plan for the Elimination of Human Trafficking (2017), National Migration Data Management Strategy (2017), Labour Migration Policy (2019) and a migration governance assessment (2019) as some of the laudable achievements.

“Ghana also recently conducted national consultations on the GCM, with support from the UN Network on Migration (UNNM)”, she added.

Ms Bhalla also welcomed the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Reintegration of Returnees in Ghana, developed by IOM in consultation with the Ghana Government and launched in 2020 at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The overall aim of the SOPs was to coordinate reintegration assistance across national and local actors to help Ghanaian returnees rebuild their lives back home – in economic, social, and psychosocial terms.

“Sustainable reintegration of returnees is only possible when all migration stakeholders are on board, a participatory approach is applied, and communities take ownership.

“IOM’s innovative and integrated approaches involve reintegration at individual, community, and structural level, and also recognize the effect that irregular migration has on the mental and physical well-being of a returnee and therefore includes a psychosocial component”, Ms Bhalla explained.

Nana Owusuwaa Fakyiwaa, the Queen of Senase, advised the community members to see the activities as a reminder to always choose safe migration.”

“There are a lot of untapped opportunities here in Berekum. You don’t have to risk your life to make it. You can make it here”, she added.

Miss Selina Kusi, a student and a beneficiary of IOM project in the area said later told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) “we developed this radio drama as part of the new IOM X campaign to educate the youth in our communities”.

Migration is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with target 10.7 calling on the international community to facilitate orderly, safe, and regular migration, and is at the core of the Global Compact for Migration, adopted in 2018 by more than 160 countries, including Ghana.

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