14.09.2004 General News

Conference on migration opens

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Accra Sept. 14, GNA - Ghanaian missions abroad are currently in the process of preparing a comprehensive list of Ghanaian professionals abroad as part of moves to assemble the necessary database to tap their skills and experiences. President John Agyekum Kufuor who announced this said the government has initiated various programmes to help transfer resources and skills from such professional for the development of the country. In a speech read for him at the opening of a two-day conference on Migration and Development in Ghana, the President said: "it will not be possible for this or any government anywhere in the world to stop the migration of its citizens."

"What will be necessary is to evolve various mechanisms, which will make it possible for migration, especially of skilled personnel who have been trained at great expense to be taken in an orderly manner." The President said: "migration is an important policy issue that needs to be managed effectively to enable Ghana tap into the financial resources and skills of non-resident Ghanaians."

The President said a bill was "currently before Parliament to give greater constitutional recognition to Ghanaians in the Diaspora so that they can equally exercise their basic citizenship rights of taking part in the process of electing the government of their country." "We are exploring with other bilateral partners ways in which we can assist in the return of non-resident Ghanaians for varying periods of time to assist with our national development." President Kufuor urged participants to come up with important policies and recommendations to help the country address the problems associated with migration.

The conference would be exploring the multi-faceted issues related to migration and development within the context of the economic and social development of Ghana. It is a partnership initiative between the United Nations Development Programme, Institute of African Studies and the Royal Netherlands Embassy meant to tackle the various challenges associated with migration. The conference would also try to discover the linkages between migration and development and to ensure that migration becomes mutually beneficial to the sending as well as receiving countries.

Mr Alfred Sallia Fawundu, UN Resident Representative in Ghana said there were both positive and negatives sides of migration involving remittances sent form lands from far away to families, friends and other loved ones and the utilization of those monies as part of the survival strategies of the recipient. "In another instance, it brings to mind the brain drain and the spectre of depletion of trained and qualified human resources for development" he added. Mr Fawundu said migration seemed to have significant cultural, socio-economic and political implications, not only for the migrants but also for their respective countries of birth and settlements. According to him, conflicts and wars brought about asylum seekers, and various socio-economic factors closely linked with underdevelopment with serious implications.

Mr. Fawundu said Ghana and other African countries should find ways of striking a balance between the benefits of migration as a survival strategy for people and imperatives of national development. Mr. Arie van der Wiel, the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, said governments of migrants and recipient countries must be responsible for addressing the problems of illegal migration together. The Okyenhene, Nana Amoatia Ofori Panyin, who chaired the function, called for greater efforts in addressing the problems of underdevelopment to stem the tide of migration.

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