Government is implementing a clear strategy to return stranded Ghanaians home from abroad in phases, Mr Charles Owiredu, a Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, has said.
Those stranded include Ghanaians who travelled on their own volition, government officials tasked to perform a specific task abroad and students on government scholarship who had completed their course of study.
Giving an update on the first batch of Ghanaians who returned home from Kuwait at the Minister’s briefing on Tuesday, Mr Owiredu said 230 Ghanaians returned, instead of the 245 initially announced.
Upon their arrival in the country last Saturday, the deportees were tested for COVID-19 and conveyed to designated isolation centres for a 14-day quarantine whilst awaiting their test results.
They were received in accordance with immigration and health protocols conducted by Immigration and Health personnel at the Kotoka International Airport.
The Deputy Minister said Ghana’s Missions abroad gathered data on Ghanaians who expressed the desire to return home and would evacuate them in phases.
However, he could not mention the specific number of Ghanaians stranded abroad, but said they were in the thousands.
He said some were in Yemen, Afghanistan, United Kingdom, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Niger and that government had been supporting them with basic necessities of life while awaiting evacuation.
Mr Owiredu expressed appreciation to the National Security, Ghana Ambulance Service, Ghana Armed Forces, Ministry of Transport, National Disaster Management Organisation and the Ghana Airport Company for their cooperation in receiving the returnees.
Information Minister, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, last Friday told journalists that Ghana had granted permission to the Kuwaiti Government to deport 245 Ghanaians stranded in the Gulf State.
The decision to accept the deportees back home, amid the closure of the country’s borders to prevent the importation of COVID-19, was reached at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, May 21.
This follows weeks of bilateral discussions on the status and welfare of the Ghanaian citizens after Kuwait informed Ghana about its intention to deport the illegal migrants, the cost to be borne by Kuwait.
Subsequently, the Government granted a special permit for their return in line with immigration and health regulations and protocols to prevent any threat to the Ghanaian population.
The trip, however, falls under the exemptions granted for special evacuation flights of foreign nationals during the border closure.
“The deportees will be in the custody of the State for preliminary investigations on the circumstances of their illegal stay in Kuwait,” Mr Oppong Nkrumah said.
“Upon completion of the investigations, a case by case determination will be made on the status and the further handling of each deportee in accordance with law”.
He said they would be mandatorily quarantined and tested for COVID-19 and those who would test positive would be supported with treatment, while those who test negative would remain in quarantine for 14 days for a second test and released based on the results.
The Minister said the cost of quarantine and treatment would be borne by the Government.