The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has reiterated the advice to Ghanaians to ensure that they always travel abroad with the requisite documents to avoid being deported when caught, a situation which could ruin their plans of travelling to those countries again, even if they later acquire the right documents.
It also said without the legal documents, it was always difficult to identify Ghanaians who were caught up in one tragedy or another, as they were often not accounted for.
The Head of Public Affairs of the GIS, Deputy Superintendent of Immigration (DSI) Michael Amoako-Attah, said people who travelled without the legal documents were better off staying at home and working, no matter how small the incomes they earned, instead of spending, sometimes, borrowed money to travel, “only to be deported or exploited by those they go to work with”.
Mr Amoako-Attah reiterated the advice in reaction to the deportation of 22 Ghanaians from Saudi Arabia last week, bringing to 41 the number of people brought back to Ghana as a result of having on them illegal documents.
“Due to issues of terrorist threats and illegal entry, most countries are tightening their search for illegal residents and, already, unfortunately, many Ghanaians are usually affected,” he indicated.
Ordeal of deportees
The deportees from Saudi Arabia were detained for four months before being repatriated home.
The 21 females and one male are mostly senior high school and junior high school graduates and are said to have lived in Saudi Arabia illegally and worked as domestic helps and a driver.
A statement from the Kotoka International Airport Regional Command of the GIS, signed by Assistant Superintendent of Immigration (AIS) Barbara Sam, said the 22 individuals, aged between 21 and 38 years, arrived last week, issued with travel certificates by the Ghana Embassy in Saudi Arabia.
It said the regional distribution of the deportees was: six each from Greater Accra and Northern, four from Ashanti and one each from Oti, Volta, Bono, Western, Central and Upper East.
It said some of the deportees, narrating their ordeal, said their passports were seized by their hosts on arrival, as they claimed ownership because they had paid for the passports, while they were also made to work 24 hours a day, barely being allowed to have some rest.
“Some were assaulted, sexually abused, blamed for offences they did not commit and sometimes starved by being fed on slices of bread as main meals,” it indicated.
Mr Amoako-Attah was worried that in spite of those harrowing experiences from other victims, many people still risked their lives to travel, with the excuse that “they may be luckier than those who had been victims”.
“Unfortunately, every country is being more alert now and it is becoming riskier. The bad people are taking advantage of people’s desperation to seek greener pastures by luring them into situations that are sometimes dehumanising.
“I would again entreat all to be cautious and make sure that their travel documents are right before they set of. Also, when they do, they should not be lured into overstaying their permits, as that is also a crime that could result in deportation,” he stressed.
The Head of Public Affairs of the GIS also appealed to all prospective travellers to contact the GIS for the necessary information on their trips and ascertain whether their documents were genuine, because undocumented migrants faced extreme forms of exploitation and hostilities in destination countries.