The European Union (EU) would soon launch a six million Euros initiative to support projects jointly managed by local authorities and civil society organisations for job creation to promote local economic development.
Mr. William Hanna, the EU Ambassador to Ghana, announced this in Sunyani during the launch of Migration Information Centre (MIC) under the Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA) project.
The project, implemented jointly by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) is being financed by the EU.
A newly constructed building funded at an initial cost of GH¢187,999.93 by the EU to serve as the office for the MIC was inaugurated in addition to a Mitsubishi Pajero vehicle purchased at $37,000, also by the EU, to facilitate the operations of the Centre.
The Centre would offer a neutral space for people to obtain accurate information on legal migration procedures, required documentation, procedure for obtaining legal travel documents and information on destination countries.
Mr. Hanna said priority would be given to projects implemented in the regions where large numbers of people left for greener pastures abroad and stressed that Brong-Ahafo Region would be one of the prioritized beneficiaries of the project.
He emphasised that addressing the root causes of migration was imperative and cited that lack of employment opportunities, poverty, and sense of despair were major drivers of it in Ghana.
Mr. Hanna said the essence of the six million Euros initiative was therefore to assist in addressing the root causes of irregular migration as raising public awareness on the dangers involved as a single intervention could not tackle that menace.
He said the MIC would assist people to make informed decisions on migration as it would them with the risks linked to migration through irregular means.
Ms Kazumi Nakamura, Manager of the GIMMA Project, said an assessment of migration to understand the knowledge, attitudes, practices and behaviours in the Brong-Ahafo and Greater Accra Regions indicated that people embarked on irregular migrations on daily basis from Ghana to various destinations.
“According to the Italian Interior Ministry, Ghanaians were one of the major nationalities who arrived in Italy by sea in 2015 with 4,431 individuals, comprising 3,995 men, 155 women, 41 accompanied minors and 240 unaccompanied minors,” Ms Nakamura revealed.
She said the launch of the MIC in the Brong-Ahafo Region was therefore highly strategic because of the numerous people, especially youth who risked their lives in dangerous and exploitative journeys through the Sahara Desert and on the Mediterranean Sea.
Mr. Justice Samuel Adjei, the Deputy Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, said government had put several socio-economic interventions like the Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC) in place to provide job-creation opportunities for the youth to stem the tide of irregular migration in the country.
Mr. Felix Yaw Sarpong, acting Director of GIS said the objective of the GIMMA Project is to contribute government’s efforts to manage migration effectively through the establishment of an integrated migration management approach.
Ms. Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, said the Centre would empower migrants with accurate knowledge and protect potential migrants from unnecessary harm and loss of lives.