Bono Regional Commander of the Ghana Immigration Service, Deputy Commissioner of Immigration (DCI), Eric Afari has said the number of Libya migrant returnees from the then Brong Ahafo Region (now Bono, Bono East, and Ahafo Regions) has reduced drastically.

He said over half of 18,512 migrant returnees in 2011 came from the then Brong Ahafo Region, but the figure reduced to 1,562 in 2017 and further dropped to 284 in 2018.

He made this revelation during a three-day training on awareness-raising and Information Technology capacities of Migration Information Center officers (MIC) in Sunyani.

The reduction of potential Ghanaian migrants who normally use unsafe and illegal means to travel has been attributed to the educative and informative campaigns by the MIC. 

The center was first established in Sunyani by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with the European Union (EU) and the Ghana Immigration Service in 2016.

These partners have since then opened two new MIC in Takoradi and Tamale to continue to offer accurate and reliable information for potential and actual migrants.

DCI Afari said this has significantly contributed to the reduction of migrant returnees from 18,512 in 2011 to 4,031 in 2017 and further dropped to 741 in 2018.

He said, “the MIC was established to disabuse the minds of potential irregular travelers and to educate them on the safe and legal means of travel”. 

The Center also assists potential migrants to verify the genuineness of their traveling documents.

“This is in their interest because it will protect them against the vagaries of the weather and the criminal elements associated with the irregular routes of getting to Europe, ” he added.

He said about 95% of people who attempt to get to Europe through the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea end up in detention camps and prisons, while others die of thirst, hunger, abuse or torture, or through accidents on the Sea by drowning.

Given this, the Immigration Service, since taking over the Center in 2016, embarked on sensitization programs in communities and schools, radio talk shows across the then Brong Ahafo Region.

He said they have enjoyed the support of “Initiative Black and White,” an NGO in their “catch them young,” programs at Senior High Schools aimed at disabusing the minds of the students of fanciful promises of seeking nonexistent greener pastures in Europe.

He noted lack of sponsorship as a major challenge in the Center’s sensitization activities which when addressed will help them achieve more despite the progress made over the years.

The Bono Regional Commander of Immigration, DCI Eric Afari also said, they will need the support of their partners (IOM and EU) to carry out an impact assessment on the Sunyani Center to identify challenges against the effectiveness of the program and profess solutions among many other benefits. 

The Officer in Charge of the Sunyani MIC, Chief Supt John Morcher said, the training will build the awareness-raising and IT capacity of the MIC officers in the Centers at Sunyani, Tamale, and Takoradi to undertake and manage information campaigns.