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Ablakwa demands end to massacre of Ghanaian migrants

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Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, has entreated President Nana Akufo-Addo to ensure that measures are put in place to end illegal migration and human trafficking of Ghanaians which results in deaths and torture in a bid to seek greener pastures abroad.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu constituency, who returned from a visit to Spain to experience firsthand the situation of illegal migrants being sheltered in Valecia, noted that “it is time to pay serious attention and fashion out a rescue plan immediately”.

According to him: “It is worth recommending that our President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo must consider improving security and surveillance at these migrant routes within our territorial boundaries. Charity begins at home, they say”.

Making a statement on the Floor of Parliament on Thursday 28 June 2018, Mr Ablakwa enumerated the inhumane conditions of the migrants highlighting how 29 Ghanaians were part of rescued migrants saved by Spanish authorities at sea and refused entry to Italy and Malta.

“In my rather sombre interaction with these Ghanaian migrants, they recounted harrowing accounts of their journey from Techiman in Ghana to Niger then to Libya across the 9,200,000 square kilometre Sahara desert before paying for their passage on board these dinghies from Libya to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

“They spoke to me about how extremely lucky they felt to have survived considering that majority of those they began the journey with lost their lives.

“Mr. Speaker, according to them, the first casualties occurred between Niger and Libya at the hands of militias and those who could not withstand the harsh desert conditions. Another round of deaths were recorded in Libya at the hands of notorious gang leaders while a final batch perished at sea when their dinghies capsized which as they narrate is quite a common spectacle,” he recounted.

The legislator stressed that “it does appear that we in Africa are not giving this matter the priority attention it deserves though it is our compatriots who are dying in their thousands every year on this perilous journey. This is essentially an African problem and an African solution is urgently required to stop this silent massacre”.

For him, “the solution to this crisis cannot be leaving the matter to the EU to deal with or allowing far right parties from Italy, Bulgaria, Austria and Germany to dominate the discourse and build their narrow political fortunes at the expense of vulnerable African lives.

“It is time for concrete action from Government. This is not the time for concealment or playing cover-up games. Let us be bold to open up to this issue and deal with it frontally.

“Also, the human traffickers who are profiting from these needless deaths cannot be allowed to get away with their blood-stained hands. We must declare time-up for these criminal rings,” he admonished.

Below is the full statement on the Floor of Parliament:

STATEMENT ON AN SOS CALL FOR URGENT, OPEN AND BOLD LEADERSHIP TO END THE SILENT MASSACRE OF YOUNG GHANAIAN IRREGULAR MIGRANTS BY SAMUEL OKUDZETO ABLAKWA,.

I am grateful to you Right Honourable Speaker for the opportunity to make this crucial statement.

Mr. Speaker, last week I embarked on a special mission to the Spanish port city of Valencia on behalf of the Minority in Parliament following credible leads from our international partners that some Ghanaian citizens may be on board the vessel Aquarius operated by Doctors without Borders (MSF) and Franco-German charity SOS Mediterranee which rescued 629 migrants off the Coast of Libya.

Mr. Speaker, the vessel Acquarius was granted entry into the port of Valencia by the Spanish Authorities and became the final place of refuge after Italy and Malta turned away the migrants and thereby triggering a major diplomatic row in Europe. The timely intervention of the new Spanish Government led by Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez in permitting the vessel carrying rescued migrants to berth in Spain’s territorial waters averted what would have been a humanitarian catastrophe.

Thanks to the kind spirit of our international collaborators, I was granted access to the Complejo Educativo De Cheste where the rescued migrants were moved to from the harbour for temporary shelter, medical attention, counseling, trauma therapy, Spanish language lessons and migration interviews.

Mr. Speaker, I saw what was a beehive of activity coordinated by Spanish Government officials, staff of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), staff of MSF and an array of volunteers doing their best to offer support and hope to these migrants which included 123 unaccompanied minors between ages 13 and 17, 11 younger children and 7 pregnant women.

Mr. Speaker, it was a very difficult experience for me as I discovered that as many as 29 Ghanaians were rescued from dangerous rubber inflated dinghies on the Mediterranean Sea unto the vessel Aquarius and indeed that Ghanaians are a major part of this fatal odyssey that has so far dominated the global news media.

In my rather sombre interaction with these Ghanaian migrants, they recounted harrowing accounts of their journey from Techiman in Ghana to Niger then to Libya across the 9,200,000 square kilometre Sahara desert before paying for their passage on board these dinghies from Libya to Europe via the Mediterranean Sea.

They spoke to me about how extremely lucky they felt to have survived considering that majority of those they began the journey with lost their lives.

Mr. Speaker, according to them, the first casualties occurred between Niger and Libya at the hands of militias and those who could not withstand the harsh desert conditions. Another round of deaths were recorded in Libya at the hands of notorious gang leaders while a final batch perished at sea when their dinghies capsized which as they narrate is quite a common spectacle.

Mr. Speaker, I observed while I was still within the vicinity of the Complejo Educativo De Cheste that French Government officials had arrived to make good President Emmanuel Macron's promise to assist Spain in granting asylum status to some of the migrants who desire to opt for France.

Mr. Speaker, it does appear that we in Africa are not giving this matter the priority attention it deserves though it is our compatriots who are dying in their thousands every year on this perilous journey. This is essentially an African problem and an African solution is urgently required to stop this silent massacre.

Even more intriguing is the fact that Europe is the only continent having a focused consistent debate even if sometimes ugly about how to resolve this humanitarian nightmare with a one-item agenda European Union mini-summit taking place only last Sunday in Brussels to deliberate on a solution ahead of a critical full EU summit later this week which will also focus attention on this humanitarian crisis.

Shockingly, there is deafening silence in Africa with the issue not considered a priority item for most Governments even when official statistics indicate that as at June 6, 2018 a staggering 33,400 African migrants had poured into Europe this year alone with no accurate data on the thousands that perished. It is not clear if our silence is as a result of a certain collective guilt, complicity or the lack of a workable African solution.

That notwithstanding, Mr. Speaker, lives are at stake. I am genuinely mortified - my eyes having been opened to the stark reality of the hundreds of able bodied Ghanaian youth who continue to lose their lives virtually every week as they attempt this deadly voyage.

Mr. Speaker, this must be a scar on our conscience as leaders of our nation.

Clearly, it is time to pay serious attention and fashion out a rescue plan immediately.

It is worth recommending that our President and Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo must consider improving security and surveillance at these migrant routes within our territorial boundaries. Charity begins at home, they say.

Public education on the dangers of this expedition must be vigorously mounted and well-funded. This is a task the National Commission for Civic Education and the Information Services Department should be able to perform with considerable impact.

The solution to this crisis cannot be leaving the matter to the EU to deal with or allowing far right parties from Italy, Bulgaria, Austria and Germany to dominate the discourse and build their narrow political fortunes at the expense of vulnerable African lives.

It is time for concrete action from Government. This is not the time for concealment or playing cover-up games. Let us be bold to open up to this issue and deal with it frontally.

Also, the human traffickers who are profiting from these needless deaths cannot be allowed to get away with their blood-stained hands. We must declare time-up for these criminal rings.

That said, Mr. Speaker, even more fundamentally, sincere efforts must be made to create real economic opportunities for the Ghanaian youth beyond all the catchy slogans. This must serve as a wake up call to all Governments that mere rhetoric would not resolve our nation's challenges.

Ghana needs leadership on this matter. As one of the Ghanaian Migrants told me, no human being deserves to go through what a few of them have miraculously survived.

Mr. Speaker, though I have had the opportunity to hold discussions with the Honourable Foreign Minister, Mrs. Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey since my return from Valencia, I still do believe that your consequential directives on this issue within the Constitutional mandate of Parliament's oversight functions will go a long way to help this nation find lasting solution to this silent massacre.

May God help us.

I thank you most profusely, Right Honourable Speaker.

Source : Ghana/ClassFMonline.com/91.3FM



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