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Africa

Ghanaians move on after shattered migrant dreams

The European Union wants to boost Mediterranean sea patrols to try and prevent further loss of life among migrants desperate to reach Europe. In Ghana, a group of ex-migrants has a simple message. Stay at home.

35-year-old Ghanaian Eric Opoku Ware began dreaming at an early age of the life he would like to lead in some more glamorous, prosperous corner of the world.

"When I was in school, I had classmates who had parents abroad and they came with nice stuff. It enticed me it induced me, to say one day, I have to travel abroad," he told DW.

Ware didn't have a family member abroad to sponsor him and attempts to secure a visa for Europe led nowhere. Opting for the illegal route, he left Ghana for Libya in the year 2000.

"The journey was very dangerous. As a matter of fact, I wanted to turn back, but I had taken a decision. Eating - we couldn't even eat, all that we needed was water, we drank urine along the line, we needed water so badly," he said.

The experiences of Ernest Lawey, another ex-migrant who returned home, were equally harrowing; the demands of the traffickers evidently extortionate.

"We started this journey from Ghana, Bawku to be precise, to Gabon, on long vehicles. We sat on top with the goods and we got to Gabon. There we had someone we called chief, [we were told] all those who go to Libya - they will stay with that person and he will be organizing. We will have some money you pay to keep you there, and you will pay again for directions," he told DW.

Ghanaian President John Mahama, his vice President, Amissah Arthur and Former president Jerry Rawlings

Ghana is regarded as one of Africa's more stable democracies, but economic growth has stalled recently

Rebuilding lives

Ware and Lawey were arrested by immigration officials in Libya and deported. They are now rebuilding their lives. Curiously, many of those who have returned from such failed trips have found that their lives in Ghana have improved in the meantime, Ware said. They now think they shouldn't have embarked on the trip in the first place and believe they can realize their ambitions at home.

Critics in Ghana say the government isn't doing enough to dissuade Ghanaians from undertaking such hazardous journeys, but the foreign ministry says officials are doing their best.

Junge Ghanaer engagieren sich gegen Auswanderung

Eric Opoku Ware tells DW's Isaac Kaledzi about his abortive bid to emigrate and his decision to rebuild his life in Ghana

Ware and other ex-migrants have recounted their experiences in a television documentary which has been screened in various communities across the country.

Ware compares illegal migration and the deaths it causes at sea to malaria, road accidents and Ebola.

"Illegal migration should be preached about. Because it is killing a lot of people that people are not aware of," he said.

'I will go'

Ghana faces economic problems. The growth that propelled it to 'middle income' status in 2010 has stalled. The country faces high levels of public debt, a currency that has depreciated sharply, and an inflation rate that has risen to as high as 17 percent. The West African nation recently signed a deal for a bail-out loan from the International Monetary Fund.

It's amid this scenario that some Ghanaians wonder whether life wouldn't better elsewhere.

"I would like to go outside, especially to the developed countries. Ghanaian David Agblor said. "If I get the chance to go, I will go," Nii Allotey told DW.

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