Dr Mariama Awumbila, Head of Center for Migration Studies at the University of Ghana, Legon, has identified lack of employment opportunities and family pressure as major contributory factors to irregular migration among Ghanaian youth.
She advised the government to come out with a holistic approach to solve the unemployment problem to enable the teeming youth to contribute to national development.
Addressing a stakeholders’ workshop on research dissemination on irregular migration at Nkoranza on Monday, Dr Awumbila said available data from the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) indicated that irregular migration was on the ascendancy among the youth at Nkoranza and Dormaa-Ahenkro in the Brong-Ahafo Region.
The workshop was on the theme: “Enhancing Capacity of Civil Society Organisations and Stakeholders to address issues of Irregular Migration and Sustainable Return Migration”.
Dr Awumbila explained that the research had become necessary considering the difficulties and attendant deaths the youth encountered on such dangerous trips to seek greener pastures.
She commended the British High Commission in Accra for funding the research project and other workshops and programmes on irregular migration.
Mr Emmanuel Kwadwo Agyekum, Nkoranza South District Chief Executive, expressed concern about how “most of the productive youth in this area cross the Sahara Desert to Libya despite the risks involved in such journeys”.
He said because of the recent political turmoil in the North African country, majority of the youth who went on such trips had returned home and the assembly was doing its best to help re-integrate them into society.
Mr Agyekum deplored the activities of travelling syndicates who collected people’s monies under the guise of preparing passports or assisting them to obtain travel documents for their journeys.
He called on the GIS to brace up and check the activities of such unscrupulous syndicates.
Mr Neil Mc Killop, Second Secretary for Migration Policy of the British High Commission, expressed appreciation to the Government of Ghana for the efforts in preparing a migration policy to enhance the welfare of the youth who intended to travel abroad.
He debunked the wrong perception by some of the Ghanaian youth that life was easy and simple in the United Kingdom and warned that all illegal migrants in the UK were being repatriated.
Ms Belinda Adwoa Sika Anim, Assistant Control Officer of the GIS, said even though the biometric passport had been introduced, people could still use the old passport to acquire visa.
She said the GIS had opened a centre in Sunyani for the processing of the biometric passport and as such there was no need for applicants to travel to Accra for the processing of the document.
Ms Anim said the processing fee for the biometric passport is GH¢50 but added those who needed it urgently could apply for the express at the cost of GH¢ 100.
Reverend Frank Peprah Twumasi, Chief Executive Officer of Scholars In-transit, a non-governmental organisation, said the NGO had formed an association known as “sweet home campaigners,” whose members had embarked on irregular migration before.
He said members of the association were now into vocations and trades to be self-reliant in society and advised returnees from Libya to register with the association.
Nana Okofo Agyapong III, Adontenhene of Nkoranza who presided commended the British High Commission for its continued support to Ghana’s developmental process.