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Help our migrants flee unemployment safely
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Help our migrants flee unemployment safely

In her quest to escape unemployment, Ida travelled from Indonesia to Saudi Arabia as a domestic servant. The 27-year-old was eager to provide for her family and improve their living conditions. But signed a fraudulent employment contract. While working abroad, Ida was subjected to forced labour, unending abuse. She was beaten, verbally abused, starved and received little support from her recruitment agency. As cruel as this may sound Bismark Akoto, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Accra, Ghana says Ghanaian female domestic workers in the Gulf States and the Middle East also face this sordid inhumane treatment.

Human Trafficking is the recruitment of people within and across national borders through force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them for profit. It is a serious crime that infringes on the dignity and human rights of millions of people. 

Despite the passing of Ghana’s Human Trafficking Act in 2005, domestic and international human trafficking remains a big challenge for Ghana. The country is a source, transit and destination for this illegal practice. 

A  report in the Ghanaian Times newspaper on  September 30, 2020, indicated that between June 2020 and September 2020 alone, the Government of Ghana had evacuated a total of 2,262 Ghanaian domestic workers who were trafficked, maltreated and stranded in Lebanon.

In the same report, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration said about 10,000 Ghanaians in distress had been evacuated from countries such as Kuwait, Oman, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia in recent years. Many of them were victims of human trafficking.

Although there have been some successes in protecting victims and prosecuting offenders, the number of Ghanaians trafficked to the Middle East and the Gulf States still raises a lot of questions about the strategies employed to prevent human trafficking in the country.  

In response to the increasing reports of abuse especially in the Gulf States, the Government of Ghana in June 2017  banned the issuance of visas for Ghanaian domestic workers to be employed in the region.

 Although this temporary measure is commendable, the delay in coming up with a roadmap to legally reopen that migration route has resulted in a number of fake recruitment agencies smuggling their desperate clients by road through neighbouring countries before connecting to their destinations. This trend makes monitoring the migratory patterns of domestic workers to the Gulf States and Middle East challenging. 

It is time the Government of Ghana and other African governments, recognise migration as a powerful tool for development rather than a liability, and Africa’s youth unemployment makes this call even more urgent. 

The recruitment of domestic workers should not be restricted to recruitment agencies. I believe the Government of Ghana, particularly Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations with support from our Missions Abroad should negotiate with their counterparts from receiving countries. 

This collaboration can produce formal labour agreements, acceptable working conditions, and compensation that connect Ghanaian citizens to opportunities in other parts of the world in a safe and regulated manner.

Additionally, credible information about migration and its risks should be accessible to the local population. This can limit the activities of fake recruitment agencies and educate potential migrants on their rights and responsibilities.

All in all, it is time for developing countries to take a more involved role in the migration of their citizens to forestall their continuous abuse. When people are equipped with support and credible information on migration, they will make better migratory decisions.

Additionally, Migration Information Bureaus such as the one established in the Bono Region by the Ghana Immigration Service should be replicated where local populations can easily access credible migration information. This will help in clamping down on the activities of fake recruitment agencies and educate would-be migrants of their rights, responsibilities and the risks associated with migration.

Finally, it is difficult to prevent Ghana’s nationals from leaving our country in search of employment. We should instead be connecting our nationals to employment opportunities in the Gulf States in a safe and structured way. I have always believed that when ordinary people are equipped with credible migration information and support, they will make better migratory decisions.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

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About Bismark Akoto:  I recently completed my graduate studies at the University of Ghana’s Centre for Migration Studies. I’m a safe migration advocate, an IBUILD Africa Peace Ambassador, and a proud Commonwealth Correspondent. Additionally, I have internship experience with Ghana Refugee Board, where I served as an Assistant. My research focused on the resilience of irregular migration from Africa to Europe. I am interested in issues related to migration, education and human rights. It is my vision to use my knowledge to help make our world a better place.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles

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