Accra, May 27, GNA – The Acting Chief Executive Officer of Ghana News Agency, Mr Rex Annan has expressed the need to uphold the rights and obligations of migrants at the launch of ECOWAS free movement and migration project in Accra.
Mr Annan’s speech lasted about 10 minutes but vibrated the conference room of the Information Ministry packed to capacity.
It is a great honour for the Ghana News Agency to be part of this ECOWAS and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) Project, which aims to promote free movement and migrants rights in the West African Sub-Region.
I am also very honoured as the General Manager to be part of this important Media Launch of Free Movement and Migration, which seeks to train journalists and also carry out public sensitisation activities on rights of migrants.
Before I proceed, let me take this opportunity to thank Media Response for this wonderful initiative to let the public understand migration matters and how we as a country can reap the benefits of free movements of goods and services and at the same time curtail the dangers it brings along.
He said as you may be aware, the Ghana news Agency – GNA – was established on March 5, 1957, that is, on the eve of Ghana’s independence.
The Agency was charged with the “dissemination of truthful and unbiased news.” In fact, it was the first news agency to be established in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Indeed, the GNA was part of a comprehensive communication policy of the government that sought to harness the information arm of the state to build a viable, united and cohesive nation-state.
The Agency has therefore been operating the unique role of mobilising the citizens for nation building, economic and social development, national unity and integration.
Mr Chairman, it is on the basis of this unique role that the GNA feels proud to be associated with this noble project which is of paramount national interest to ensure that every Ghanaian citizen moving across borders is sufficiently informed, protected and safe.
It is sad that, we continue to receive reports every year that thousands of migrants, largely from Africa, perish in an attempt to travel, for example, by road through Niamey, the Sahara Desert, Libya and the Mediterranean Sea to Europe for greener pastures.
According to the Italian Coast Guard, more than 2,000 people were rescued along the sea near Libya in April this year on one Friday and 3,000, the following day in dozens of separate rescue missions.
At least, seven people were drowned in the process as aid workers struggled to rescue over 1,500 migrants in a single operation. Sadly, Mr Chairman, an eight-year-old boy was among the dead.
And coming back home in Ghana, thousands of young girls and boys from the villages, and largely from northern parts of our country, travel to the cities, apparently to escape severe poverty. Majority of them end up hawking along our streets and sleeping on pedestrian walks and pavements. One can imagine the kind of dangers our young ones as well as our children are exposed to including the harsh weather conditions, robbery attacks and rape.
Mr Chairman, it is clear that Ghana cannot escape the negative effects that come with migration such as cross border transfer of diseases and criminal activities etc. but we cannot also ignore its benefits. For example, remittances from Ghanaians abroad was around $2 billion (GHÈ¼8.7 billion) in 2016, according to figures from Bank of Ghana.
It is for this reason that we share with the view that the project will contribute to promoting knowledge and awareness of national and international frameworks for migration among frontline journalists and field correspondents.
But the question is, how do we report on migrants without criminalising them, how do we establish policy gaps on migration and what can we do to whip the enthusiasm of journalists in these matters?
That is why it becomes important that our media is moved along to understand these issues and report effectively and appropriately. If the media is well trained on migration dynamics, then, I am confident they would be able to properly interrogate and investigate the issues to stimulate public discourse about triggers, policy gaps and responsibilities of state and non-state actors to address migration matters.
On behalf of the GNA management and the Board, I assure the Migration Project managers, the ECOWAS and fellow citizens that the Agency is ready to make available its vast expertise and the presence of its offices and staff in the Regions and Districts across the country to support the successful implementation of the ECOWAS Migration Project.
By D.I. Laary, GNA