June 9, 2020
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayokor-Botwe has told Parliament government has plans to evacuate stranded Ghanaians abroad in phases following the alert by the World Health Organisation that COVID-19 would remain global health issues until a vaccine is developed.

According to her, her Ministry together with Ghana’s missions abroad, Interior and Aviation with the Immigration Service have been working closely to bring back home stranded Ghanaians in several countries.

Madam Ayokor Botwe further told the House the phases of evacuation was informed by financial and logistical consideration such as capacity of isolating centers to hold huge numbers of evacuees as wells as the human resources capacity of the National COVID-19 Task Force comprising various security agencies.

This was when ranking member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa wanted to know plans to evacuate Ghanaians currently stranded abroad due to closing of international borders and measures to prevent the importation of COVID-19.

The Minister noted that the stranded Ghanaians abroad are in four categories, the ability to pay, they comprise private individuals, business sponsored employees as well as government, student yet to complete their courses but without any compelling reason insist on returning home.

As their evacuation requires Government to provide travel documents and guarantee safe passage as well as Ghanaian residence permit holders including diplomats and their dependents.

The second is government funded evacuation made up of government officials who travel for official business as well as government sponsored students yet to complete their course but who are compelled to leave their place of residence.

Third categories comprises of distressed and destitute: these are Ghanaians who traveled to various countries before the advent of the pandemic whose circumstances have been worsened due to the crisis and consequent travel bans and other restrictions imposed by different countries around the world.

Final categories are deportees that is Ghanaians who have been scheduled for removal from various countries.

In the case of phases two arrivals by charter flights on Saturday June 6 2020 nineteen Ghanaians from Mauritania, fourteen from Burkina Faso, thirty-five from Washington D. C, five from Turkey and seven from Nigeria.

Whiles phases three June 17, 24 and 28 2020 evacuation by KLM three hundred from Washington D. C. two hundred and ninety-nine and four hundred thirty-four from the United Kingdom.

She was however quick to point out that the arrangement was subject to requirement in the host countries, such as permits, over flight and landing clearance, which may result in changes in the scheduled dates of arrival.

And further told the House negotiation are underway between Ghana’s mission in Beijing and Ethiopian Airlines for the evacuation of some six hundred and seventy-five stranded Ghanaians in China.

The same with the county’s mission in Abu Dhabi where discussion with the UAE authorities for the evacuation of over five hundred Ghanaians stranded in that country.

Whiles one hundred and forty-one Ghanaians students who have completed their language proficiency courses in Benin last month using STC buses, “now arrangements are in place to evacuate them on June 13 2020.

The Foreign Minister added that plans are far advanced to evacuate Ghanaians stranded in Canada, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Netherland, Niger, Norway, Kenya, Switzerland and Ethiopia.

“Priority would be given to urgent evacuation request that require minimal Government intervention, such as pre-arrangement charted flights awaiting landing clearance from Government”.

Kwaku Sakyi-Danso/Ghanamps.com