The UK government has announced a programme to offer financial support to illegal Ghanaian migrants resident in the UK who wish to voluntarily return to their motherland.

Mr. Peter Jones, Director for Migration at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK, announced the programme at a public lecture organised by the British High Commission in Ghana at the Centre for Migration Studies, University of Ghana, Legon on Wednesday.

He said the UK government has come to the realisation that in spite of all efforts made to mitigate illegal migration into the UK, the trend was on the rise.

This, he said, had necessitated the UK Government stepping up measures to curb the influx of illegal migrants.

Mr. Jones said despite the media in the UK disapproves of the investment made into providing financial support for illegal migrants who voluntarily wish to return to Ghana, the government thought it very necessary.

Though he would not mention the actual figures to be offered individual who consent to be repatriated, he said each returnee stands to gain between several hundreds to thousands of pounds.

He added that the British High Commission was also looking at equipping the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) with logistics and education to curb the trend.

Touching on the UK government’s new approach to migration, Mr. Jones said his outfit had improved on the percentage of successful visa applicants from 51% in 2008 to 68% so far in 2010, being the highest number to date.

This he said was due mainly to the introduction of the biometric system.

Mr. Peter Jones also revealed that, “By the end of March 2011, Accra will be the regional decision making hub for all non-Nigerian visa applications in West Africa.

He said about 5,000 foreigners were imprisoned for illegal migration-related offences and advised all and sundry to desist from such acts and rather take advantage of the new system rolled out to improve the chances of an individual obtaining a UK visa.

The Deputy Minister of the Interior, Dr. Kwasi Apea-Kubi who was also present at the lecture, supported the programme to aid would be returnees.

According to him, he spoke to a few Ghanaians illegally resident in Malta some time ago and they hinted of their willingness to return, but only upon achieving their aim of making a reasonable amount of money.

He said studies showed that illegal migrants abroad from Ghana returned home only after succeeding in their objectives but until then, they usually would not return, saying even for those who are deported, they more often than not took the risk again of going back to the foreign country.

Story by Fidel Amoah/Myjoyonline.com/Ghana

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