Government on Friday June 5 announced to parliament that the evacuation of stranded Ghanaians amidst the Coronavirus pandemic would be extended to other parts of the world.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey was quizzed by Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Ranking Member on the Committee of Foreign Affairs and MP for North Tongu on efforts by government to evacuate stranded Ghanaians in various countries following the closure of the country’s borders to minimise the importation of the Coronavirus.
In response, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said, “following the return from Kuwait, I am pleased to inform this august house about government’s efforts to extend the evacuation exercise to other parts of the world.”
She added that the exercise would be conducted in phases due to logistical constraints.
Under Phase Two, being done by charter flights, seven persons have been evacuated from Lagos, Nigeria on June 5; 15 were to be evacuated from Mauritania on the 5th June; and on the 6th June, five from Turks and Calcos; 35 from Washington DC; 14 from Burkina Faso; and four from Mauritania on 9th June, 2020.
Phase three would be assisted by KLM Charter flights, and there would be 434 and additional one FSO; 299 from New York on June 24, 2020; and 300 from Washington DC on June 28.
“It should be noted that these arrangements are subject to other requirements in the host countries, which may result in changes in the scheduled dates of arrival,” the Minister noted.
She revealed that negotiations were currently underway between Ghana’s Mission in Beijing and Ethiopian Airlines for the evacuation of some 675 stranded Ghanaians in China and Ghana’s Mission in Abu Dhabi has initiated discussions with the United Arab Emirates authorities for the evacuation of over 500 of Ghanaian nationals stranded in that country.
Similarly, the Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Ministry has arranged with the Scholarships Secretariat and the National Covid-19 Task Force to evacuate by STC buses, 141 Ghanaian students who completed their language proficiency courses in Benin on June 13, 2020.
Further arrangements are also in progress to assist with the evacuation of stranded Ghanaians in other countries as Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, South Africa, Spain, Netherlands, Niger, Norway, Kenya, Ethiopia and Switzerland.
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey said priority might be given to urgent evacuation requests that required minimal Government intervention, such as pre-arranged charter awaiting flights awaiting landing clearance from government.
Later at a press conference, Mr Ablakwa called for consular assistance for the stranded Ghanaians, particularly in Dubai, as they attracted the attention of the security agencies in affected countries.
He said, “the videos of the ordeals of some of our women are heart-wrenching. Some of them have not changed their clothes or taken a shower for two weeks.”
He appealed to government for a more conclusive data collection for a fair and accurate picture of how many Ghanaians were to be evacuated, and a budget line in the Foreign Affairs Ministry for stranded Ghanaians.
Concerning housing of returnees in hotels, Ablakwa urged government to find other means of accomodation as hotel costs are too high.
He suggested the use of facilities not being currently used in the universities and Senior High Schools.