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Daniel Atimbila, a 32-year-old young man from the Upper East region of Ghana in his quest to seek greener pastures abroad has to borrow monies from family members to register for a slot with a travelling company.

In 2019, Daniel paid an amount of 3,000 Ghana cedis to an agent working with a traveling company who had promised to aid him travel to Saudi Arabia. The amount included his traveling processing fee, visa and medicals. According to him, after payment and going through several processes including medical screening, the travel never came through.

He said “after we went for the medicals, we went to the embassy and we were told that we had old passports and so we should bring them so that they will know which country we’ve been to before which we never had old one,

I never even had one, that was my first passport I registered. So, they sent us to Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we went and met the minister and signed some documents that shows that we didn’t have old passports and it was sent back to the embassy but still it didn’t go on well”.

Asked what their agent said afterwards, he said, “it was just we should be calm every day so I saw that it was not helping because you can’t be waiting for something that will never happen and that is where I decided that I will go back to school, even my passport is still with the agent”.  He added that, “sometimes the way they do their adverts, you will think there’s something good in it, but God knows best”.

Story of a deportee who travelled through a traveling company

Amina Ibrahim is a 29-year-old young lady who hail from Galwe in the Gushegu Municipality of the Northern region of Ghana who was deported from Saudi Arabia after staying there for five years. According to her, she traveled to Saudi Arabia through a traveling agent with the promise of working in a hotel.

Aside the secured job, Amina was also promised of a weekly salary ranging between 1,500 and 2,000 Ghana cedis as at 2017 when she was traveling. Accommodation and feeding were also assured as she was told that the hotel will take care of that and she only need to wake up and carry out her duties as assigned in the hotel.

However, upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, Amina was abandoned by her agent with the explanation that their contract ends once they have been able to take her to the country.

“I was promised by the agent that, once I pay the amount of GHS 5, 800 it will cover my traveling expenses and my job when I get there. They had three job options with different amounts and qualification, so I chose the hotel job because that is what I qualify for and could afford to pay”.

“After I paid the money, they took me through medical screening and other processes. The month we were supposed to leave we didn’t, it took us more than three months to travel after everything. When we finally got to Saudi Arabia, we were five and all of us became confused and stranded, till a certain man came and pick two of us who were the ladies leaving the guys.

He took us to one room and told us to stay that he will be back, when we were starving because we didn’t have food to eat. He returned after some few hours with food for us. We lived in that room for about a week before he told us he has found us jobs and that we were going to be house helps for some people, but because we didn’t have anything to do and even food we hurriedly agreed”. “At this time all we don’t know where and how our colleagues (the guys) are doing”.

While working as a house help, Amina was being constantly harassed sexually by the man she was serving. Even though she didn’t want it (sexual harassment) but it was difficult for her since she needed livelihood.

“I could work from 5am till after 12am again midnight. Sometimes when I wake up the workload is plenty that I can’t even sit down and eat, if I try to do that, my madam will shout on me and I will leave it. Even the food it’s difficult to get it”.

“Before I go to bed, I will be very tired and still I will not get peace, my madam husband will always sneak into my room and want to sleep with me, sometimes I struggle with him till he gets tired and go out or if I want to shout then he will leave me. He threatened to throw me out several times if I don’t allow him have me”.

“I suffered in the house for one and half year and I was thinking of how to get out there. My madam was not giving me my money, she said she want keep it so that when I’m going back, she will give it to me, so I didn’t have money to run away”.

“One day I was sleeping in my room when my madam’s son entered and try to sleep with me, I struggled with him till I used a wood and knock his testis. When he was on the floor and struggling, I packed my things and sneaked through the window and went out that night and slept on the road. The next day I went to the refugee camp and spent more than a month there until we were deported to Ghana” she narrates while sharing tears.   

Experts advise

Commenting on the recent influx of traveling companies and the negative consequences it has on the Ghanaian youth, Alhaji Munkaila, executive director of African Development Organization for Migration, AFDOM, an organization offering artisanship support to deported migrants to Ghana, expressed worry over the current phenomenon.

He said while various organizations and the government of Ghana are relentlessly working to encourage traveling through the right means and for good reasons, the operations of the traveling companies seem to be doing the opposite. Alhaji Munkaila said, as many young people in the country are made to believe they can easily succeed “overseas”, any little opportunity they get either through the right means or not would want to travel.

He has therefore advised people who develop interest in traveling outside Ghana to be warry of fake agents, saying, “some of them are out there to make money”. He also advised the youth of Ghana to focus on turning the potentials in them into opportunities and stop thinking of traveling abroad.

“there’s no greener pastures anywhere than our country Ghana, it’s about time the youth turn the potentials in them into opportunities and stop thinking of traveling abroad”.

“For the traveling companies and their agents, their focus is the money and not whether or not the traveler is safe. I think it’s about time we regulate the activities of some of these people. I know they are supposed to be registered companies, but do we as a country check how they operate? How do they get the jobs they claim to have abroad, who gives them the visas and what do they say when acquiring the visas, I think we should look into all those things”.

Alhaji Munkaila said the companies if registered must be put in check to ensure they don’t dupe anyone or take people out and leave them stranded. He also warned people who fall for the offers advertised by some of the agents to be careful in their dealings with them.

While admitting that, it is dangerous to travel without proper documentations (of which some traveling agencies are victims), he encouraged persons with interest to travel abroad to do so through the right channel.

The influence by travelling companies  

Glance through any social media platform or switch on your television set in Ghana in recent times and you might think that the entire population of the country’s youth livelihood depends on travelling abroad. Day in and Day out, traveling companies most of whom are not registered continue to advertise traveling opportunities for young persons in Ghana to travel abroad.

The juicy offers and assurances from these companies lure many young men and women into paying huge sums of money to their agents with the aim of traveling out of the country. However, the offers and promises to facilitate traveling of interested persons to countries of their choice has caused more harm than good. Many young persons in Ghana have suffered their decisions to seek traveling support from some of these companies.

While some persons have been duped off their monies, others who managed to travel are left stranded upon their arrival at their chosen destinations. Most of the companies’ contract with the traveler (migrant) ends as soon as they arrive despite the promises of securing them jobs.

In some cases, and for those who secure jobs for their clients, the job opportunities promised before the agreement turn not to be what the migrants are offered. Such false hopes and deceit have jeopardized the lives of many young people who fall prey to traveling agencies. Female victims mostly suffer sexual abuses in countries that they are stranded either on the streets or at the work places just for the reason of survival.  

Climate change

Many young people especially men from the northern part of Ghana leave their homes and even the country due to change in the climate. In the northern part of Ghana, climate change continues to affect farming activities though farming is the major profession there. Climate change has affected even the soil fertility making it difficult for farmers to get reasonable harvests. The situation has forced many of the young men to seek greener pastures away from their homes.

The case of Daniel Attiah

Daniel tells me his father stopped farming some 10 years back to seek a security job because he thinks farming was not helping him. He said, “my father stopped farming for long, since I was 20 years. He said there’s nothing in farming anymore so its better he finds something to do and he got job as a security man”. The decision by Daniel’s father made him to believe that farming was not an option hence his decision to travel abroad. However, just like Daniel, many people are victims of such migration from the North of Ghana.  

The reality

Information available on the International Migration Organization, IMO website indicates that, the current global estimate is that there were around 281 million international migrants in the world in 2020, which equates to 3.6 per cent of the global population. Overall, the estimated number of international migrants has increased over the past five decades.

The total estimated 281 million people living in a country other than their countries of birth in 2020 was 128 million more than in 1990 and over three times the estimated number in 1970. It is noted that one in every 30 people in the world is a migrant. However, in the case of Ghana exactly how many Ghanaians emigrate each year is not known.

But United Nations data on Ghanaians abroad (excluding those who have naturalised) suggest about 970,000 live abroad. By 2015 a surge in migration from Ghana made the country the eleventh most common nationality among migrants who arrived in Europe by boat, according to the IOM. Arrivals in Italy alone the same year totalled 4,431. As of July, of same year, 2,700 such arrivals have been recorded.

Call on government

In recognition of the developmental impacts of migration and the challenges associated with its governance, the Government of Ghana launched a National Migration Policy in April 2016 to provide a framework for migration governance in the country.

The comprehensive framework is intended to aid the country manage all aspects of its internal, intra-regional and international migration flows.  However, some experts believe government needs to do more beyond the policy, stressing the need to link development programmes to employment and job creation. They maintained that available job opportunities will be the best antidote the youth constant interest to travel abroad in search of ends means.  

source: Biawurbi

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