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General News Wed, 6 Nov 2002

Sahara Still Devouring Ghanaians

The hollow womb of the sandy Sahara desert is reported to be gulping a couple of Ghanaians “Mungo Park” travelers each month on their way to Libya in search for greener pastures.

Chronicle sources revealed that the Ghanaians “ramblers” are mostly deportees who were set-up and cheated by their own countrymen in far away Libya and later deported by the Libyan immigration authorities in October 2000.

Scores of the deportees are reported to have started trooping back to the Arab nation through the death route in the Sahara desert, popularly called “Mungo Park”, with an average of two people dying each month.

This was confirmed to Chronicle by Mr. Isaac Kofi Gyimah, chairman of the Brong-Ahafo branch of the Ghana-Libya Deportees Association, in an interview with the paper.

Chronicle investigation revealed that most of the deportees choose the life-threatening route because it is cheaper and also because travelers are not bothered with any cumbersome immigration formalities. The paper also established that the upsurge of people traveling to Libya emanates from the despondency and hopelessness in finding any ‘quick money’ jobs in Ghana and also from their renewed hope arising from the visa-free travel policy of the African Union which was championed by the Libyan leader, Muammar al-Ghaddafi.

Mr. Kofi Gyimah, also known as Alexander Antwi-Kusi, revealed to Chronicle that since their arrival in the country empty handed, following their deportation, friends and relations had persistently ridiculed them because of their dependence on them.

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“Most deportees who could not stand the mockery and scorn either choose to travel to the city in search of non-existent jobs or put their life at risk by traveling back to Libya through the desert,” he reiterated.

Chronicle a finding after months of enquires at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs revealed that not less than ten people had perished on the “Mungo Park” route over the past eight months.

It would be re-called that Ghanaians immigrants who were being hustled by Libyan authorities deposited their hard-earned dollars with the Ghanaian Embassy in Tripoli for ‘Safe-Keeping’. The embassy was later alleged to have been burgled and 30 per cent of the monies deposited stolen, an allegation which has been persistently challenged by the deportees.

He suggested that the most reliable solution is to refund their monies to them for viable investments in small and medium enterprise businesses, thereby making ends meet and being seen as fruitful citizens.

Mr. Isaac Kofi Gyimah called on the government to take urgent steps to control the rate at which the deportees are trooping back to Libya through what he termed “the death trap” in the Sahara desert.

Source: Chronicle
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