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10.03.2005 General News

Illegal migrants have rights - Minister

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Accra, March 10, GNA - Papa Owusu Ankoma, Minister of the Interior on Thursday said the Government would ensure that the rights of Ghanaians living abroad illegally, was respected in accordance with international human right standards.

He said his outfit had received complaints that Ghanaian nationals, who by some reasons were repatriated, suffered various humiliations including being flown in cargo flights without humane facilities, seizure of their passports, imprisonment without trials and others. Papa Ankoma was speaking at a forum as part of his familiarization tour of National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to acquaint himself with the operations of the Organisation as well as interact with the workers.

He indicated that 6,000 Ghanaians were deported from Libya last year, and an additional 14,000 were expected this year and that they would ensure that their fundamental human rights were not trampled upon. Papa Owusu Ankoma praised the staff for responding rapidly to disasters in the face of all the constraints and gave the assurance that the Government would do all that it took to ensure that Parliament enacted the NADMO Bill to ensure its effective operation. "I have instructed the National Coordinator to prepare for the consideration by Cabinet the necessary policy document in respect of the new Bill", he said.

He noted that the unavailability of ready fund to manage disaster at the appropriate time was a major problem and said; "the new Bill would establish Disaster Fund which would be ready to meet emergencies. Papa Owusu Ankoma told the staff of NADMO that their duty and risk allowances due them would be remitted this year to stem the incidence of resignations of personnel.

The Minister called for the equipping of NADMO personnel with the necessary skills to perform civil defence roles and make them ready to combat disasters.

"The staff of NADMO must see themselves as security personnel and all situations applicable to other security personnel should be made to apply to them," he said.

He said the Government would support the Organisation to train its staff as well as volunteer groups to equip them with the required disaster management tools, adding, "this formed part of the Government consideration of human resource development as one of the pillars of the country's development strategies".

Papa Owusu Ankoma stressed the need for intensive public awareness on the management of disasters as a means of minimizing the number of casualties.

Brigadier Joseph Odei (rtd), National Coordinator of NADMO, said despite the looming threat of earthquake along the coastal belt, NADMO's budget allocation for the 2005 had been reduced to 4.5 billion cedis compared to 12.3 billion cedis in 2004.

He said the allocation was woefully insufficient since it included the provision of emergency relief to disaster victims saying, "we should not wait for a major disaster to strike before we begin to wobble around".

Brig Odei noted that disaster management required the coordination and collaboration of governmental and non-governmental agencies and until a serious commitment was demonstrated the anticipated results would be difficult to attain. 10 March 05

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