The National Migration Policy (NMP) of Ghana which was launched by government in April 2016 with pledges to ensure its implementation, has not been implemented, laments research and education think tank, Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA).
ACILA’s executive director, Mr. William Nyarko told Graphic Online in an interview that ACILA’s monitoring of the implementation of the NMP has shown that the Ghana National Commission on Migration (GNCM), a body that is crucial for the implementation of the NMP, has also not been established.
It is recalled that the former Minister of the Interior, Mr. Prosper Douglas Bani launched the NMP on April 6, 2016 and pledged government’s commitment and readiness to ensure its effective implementation.
The NMP is aimed at providing a comprehensive framework to manage migration for Ghana’s sustainable development.
The Ministry of the Interior in collaboration with the Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Migration (IMSCM) and Ghana’s development partners organized the launching of the NMP. Funding was provided by the Ministry of Finance, International Organisation for Migration (IOM), German International Development Co-operation (GIZ), and the European Union (EU).
Continuing, Mr. Nyarko said that the implementation of the policy is very important as it does not only provide a policy framework, but also how to address migration issues, including irregular migration, internal migration, labour migration, and the return, re-admission, and reintegration of emigrant Ghanaians for sustainable development.
He, therefore, urged the new administration of Nana Akufo-Addo to prioritise the implementation of the NMP on its “to-do list” as it crosses its 100 days in office mark.
Indeed, the importance of the policy was also emphasized by the framers of the policy as they noted that the “NMP is the first attempt by the Government of Ghana to formulate a comprehensive response to migration challenges”, adding that the “non-existence of a national strategic framework on migration and limited migration data has contributed to the ineffective management of migration in Ghana.”
In addition, the policy seeks “to close the gap between strategy and implementation to maximise the gains and minimise the costs associated with migration.”
Dignitaries at the High Table During the Launch of the National Migration Policy of Ghana
In order to effectively manage migration for development, Ghana set up an Inter-Ministerial Steering Committee on Migration (IMSCM), which formulated the NMP. According to the NMP document, “the IMSCM, led by the Ministry of Interior, will promote the implementation of the NMP. The policy also envisaged the establishment of the Ghana National Commission on Migration (GNCM) to enhance its implementation.”
Graphic Online found that the lack of establishment of the GNCM is hampering the effective and co-ordinated implementation of the NMP especially as the mandate of the IMSCM that spearheaded the launch of the policy ended just after the launch and no new committee was set up by the Ministry of the Interior.
Establishing the Commission requires having due regard to the provision of logistics, where to situate the Commission, timeframe for recruiting staff and providing funds for payment of salaries, undertaking consultations with the various organizations that were identified as partners in the implementation of the NMP, and establishing a work plan for the implementation of the NMP.
The NMP assigned roles and responsibilities to key institutions and stakeholders for the implementation of the NMP. For example, the media are to “Disseminate migration-related information to potential and return migrants; - Report and feature special articles/programmes on migration-related activities, e.g., human smuggling/trafficking, refugee situation, etc.; and - Sensitize the general public on the costs and benefits associated with migration.”
A stakeholder with knowledge of the NMP and why the policy has not been implemented explained that because 2016 was an election year, the focus of the government was basically on the elections than implementing the policy, adding that the commission was not constituted before the previous administration lost power.
“The timing of the launch of the policy could have played a role. Perhaps if the policy had been launched a year before, it could have been implemented”, the source noted.
Asked whether it was disappointing that a year after the launch of this critical national policy it still lies on the shelves and probably gathering dust, the source stated “it is a matter of goodwill on the part of stakeholders especially government. The policy was launched and government has to show enormous commitment towards the implementation of the policy.”
The sector ministry responsible for the implementation of the NMP is the Ministry of the Interior. A source at the ministry explained that the new administration might need some time to settle down, study the NMP, and provide policy directives for the implementation of the NMP.
Sharing a stakeholder and donor perspective, a source at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), a major stakeholder, noted that “there is nothing concrete on the ground” on the part of government regarding the implementation of the NMP.
“We [IOM] are implementing bit and pieces of it, but not the policy. We are inter-governmental and we can only push to an extent like the setup of the migration commission. We provide the leadership role and we provide the guidance, training, (etc) but the real establishment (of the policy) should come from the government of Ghana. Ideally we would have loved to see the policy initiatives being implemented, but nonetheless, it has to do with the higher level”, the source added.
To effectively manage migration inflows in the country, the source added that IOM has set up a migration data sharing platform which will enable migration data to be put under one common platform and enable users to have access to the data, adding that “it’s not full stream implementation of the policy.”
In addition to the lack of full implementation of the policy, certain issues, including information gap has been identified. This pertains to the failure of some key migration stakeholders sharing their data and this could result in hampering the effectiveness of the migration policy in the country.
“Currently, even though the policy is there, there is still that gap. We have indicated the need for development and reliable data on migration but there are still gaps. The various agencies producing migration data – some produce the data and then do not even share with relevant agencies. They keep it for their administrative activities”, the source stated.
Meanwhile as the implementation of the NMP delays, migration, especially irregular migration is on the rise with thousands facing peril and death.
The perils that migrants who use irregular routes (by road through Niamey, Sahara Desert, Libya, Mediterranean Sea ) to travel to Italy or attempt to travel to Italy face, are well recounted by other survivors, with the death toll increasing exponentially over the years, according to data from the Migrants Project and the Global Migration Data Analyses Centre.
According to the data, 5,267 deaths were recorded in 2014, rising to 5,740 deaths in 2015, and 7,259 deaths in 2016 with deaths from the Mediterranean routes (Eastern, Central and Western) accounting for about 60% of the recorded deaths.
Italy and other members of the European Union have been observing the rising trend of irregular migration with alarm and have been taking a number of steps to address the issue. However, a revealing fact is that unless economic conditions in African countries improve, irregular migration may become regular migration for some.
This article was brought to you by Graphic, Africa Centre for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) and Panos Institute West Africa, with support from the European Union.
Additional reporting by Dundas Whigham