Accra, May 22, GNA – Dr Princess Ocansey, a renowned International Migration Expert, has noted that Ghana needs crucial steps both in the long and short term, to reduce the nation’s growing migrant issues
She said:" 7000 Ghanaian undocumented migrants are being deported from the US back to Ghana. Especially housemaids are being deported daily from the Arab Gulf States, we must sit up," she told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Accra.
Dr Ocansey, also the Founder of SOSJobs4women Ghana, said: "The economic and social implications of these deportations are vast, considering that migrants remit over three billion dollars annually home to their families in Ghana.
"Clearly, we cannot afford to let these deportations continue to further deepen an already grave issue of unemployment in Ghana.
"Though the scenarios look alarming they can be resolved to the benefit of the nation and can be mostly turned around, with all hands on deck, to enable Ghana and Ghanaians enjoy the great benefits of migrating legally overseas," she said.
She said for the long term, Ghana urgently needed a migration policy explaining that migration hardly ever goes well without a strong Government policy to guard and protect migrants from a sending country, such as Ghana to receiving countries such as the USA, Canada, EU and the Gulf Arab States.
“On a short term, a legal framework for migration from many countries like Mauritius, Philippines, Uganda, Ethiopia or Kenya can be immediately adopted by Ghana and implemented through a Memorandum of Understanding with key receiving countries especially, Saudi Arabia and other GCC - Arab nations where Ghanaians continue to lodge complaints at alarming rates.”
Dr Ocansey said Ghana must look into negotiating jobs with popular receiving countries like the USA and Canada with seasonal job programmes.
These include USA H2b and H2a visa jobs, JI visa trainee programmes with the USA to provide seasonal job opportunities, which are normally not in competition with the job aspirations of Americans but are good opportunities and will provide great training for Ghanaians and windows of opportunities for circular legal migration.
She noted that it was in the absence of known legal channels that illegal migration thrive.
Dr Ocansey called for the strengthening of licensed agencies, promote legal migration while condemning illegal migration through major public campaigns.
Ghana has 52 licensed and growing agencies for legal migration. In addition, there is an important body, The Ghana Association for Private Employment Agencies “GHAPEA” operating under a 12-point code of conduct to ensure legal migration.
She said Government must continue to strengthen GHAPEA by publishing the names of legally licensed companies, as channels for legal migration.
“Media houses must join forces with GHAPEA to provide public awareness campaigns to save lives.
“GHAPEA plans to launch a national campaign the ‘Face of Legal Migration’, which media houses are encouraged to support as part of their social responsibility agenda.
“Government must eradicate illegal migration by putting measures in place at each point of the migration process from police report acquisition and to ensure exit permits from the labour department occurs as a pre- requisite to visa acquisition. All agencies of Government and private sector must be determined to weed out illegal operators.
“Government must put in place labour attaches at key receiving countries where there are issues for monitoring and evaluation. The Philippines has Labour attaches at each receiving country, who monitor migrants and have immigration lawyers attached to their embassies overseas,” she said.
Dr Ocansey said Ghana must place an immediate ban on direct to homes housemaid schemes, whilst licensed agencies must be regulated to deal only with other institutions in the receiving countries.
This, she said provided a framework to handle non-compliance to signed contract terms and conditions.
She said: “Direct to home maid service pays more money to the agents but are the worst forms of migration to the detriment of the migrant.
“A majority of the issues of domestic workers arise from illegal agents who engage primarily in direct to home maid services with zero oversight and protection to the migrant once she arrives in the receiving country, where she can easily be subjected to slave-like conditions with zero oversight.”
Dr Ocansey said each worker leaving Ghana to work overseas must take responsibility to ensure that he or she had signed a job offer with agreeable decent terms and conditions.
“Many times Ghanaians travel overseas on visitor’s visas hoping to look for a job upon arrival. They arrive without the requisite documents and proper permits. Most, unable to afford a ticket back to Ghana, resort to an undocumented and mostly dangerous life,” she said.
Dr Ocansey said the nation must declare war against illegal migration whilst the deportees must be provided social counselling services to prevent depression and suicides.
“Each family must ensure their wards are migrating legally and must ask key questions such as; is the agency taking you licensed? What are terms of your contract? Have you signed an offer letter? Does the ward have the correct visa?
“The pastures are greener overseas only through legal migration. Outside of that, it is mostly a door to horror.
“Ghanaians are warned to venture to travel to work overseas only through licensed international job placement agencies. If in doubt, contact the office of the Chief Labour Officer of the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations,” she advised.