Ghanaians respond to EU migrant fund with caution | Africa | DW | 12.11.2015
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Ghanaians respond to EU migrant fund with caution

The European Union believes dedicating millions of euros to African governments can help ease the migration crisis. Ghanaians don't totally agree.

After two days of negotiations and deliberations, European Union leaders approved a 1.8 billion euro ($2 billion) 'trust fund' for Africa. The fund will be used for preventing conflict, creating jobs and supporting health and educational services, thereby preventing irregular migration to Europe. African leaders will have to be prepared to use part of the fund to resettle deported economic migrants - something not all of them are excited about.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), over 300,000 Ghanaians left the country for Europe and the US between 2010 and 2011. However, the numbers have recently increased. Some of the would-be Ghanaian migrants such as Joseph Kpo, a resident in the capital Accra, said the fund was simply too little. "If they want us to stop coming they should bring us what they took from us," Kpo said. "The money they are giving us is not even equivalent to one-quarter of what they took from us."

Several young Ghanaians who continue to engage in irregular and illegal migration told DW correspondent in Accra Isaac Kaledzi their main reasons for leaving Ghana remain poor standards of living and lack of opportunity.

To stay home or leave?

Sidik Mensah, a young resident of Accra, was also unsure about what the new EU migrant trust fund could achieve. "If the president has accepted it and it will help us to get jobs and everything here, then we are not going to travel." However, Mensah said the country's economic situation was not very promising. "That's why if I had the opportunity I will travel," he added.

The challenge for African governments like that of Ghana is to convince young people still wishing to travel abroad why they would be better off staying in their home countries.

African migrants inside a shelter belonging to doctors without borders.

Young men form the bulk of African migrants

Development analyst and renowned Ghanaian politician Abu Sakara told DW that European leaders had opted for a quick-fix solution to the global migration crisis. "It is too simplistic to simply dish out money and hope that the problem will stop," Sakara said.

"I think we need to look at where that money is invested and work our way up all along the value chain." He said there was need to ensure that jobs are created which will give young men and women the kind of lives they crave for in Africa.

Right information on migration

Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, Ghana's chief of mission at the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said any proposed solution that does not target the youth is bound to fail. "We need to focus and invest in an information campaign because there is a lot of misinformation among young people," Lopez-Ekra said.

She said many young people don't realize the threats and dangers of irregular migration. "Sometimes, they even put so much money in the hands of smugglers, money that they could use to do something back home."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel poses for a picture with European and African leaders.

EU leaders hope the trust fund will reduce the number of African migrants

Ghanaian government officials have backed President John Mahama's decision to collaborate with his European counterparts to stop Ghanaians from migrating to Europe using dangerous routes.

Eric Opoku Manu, a regional minister who has been spearheading a campaign that seeks to discourage young people who are bent on migrating to Europe, told reporters that to curb the practice, civil society groups and the media need to join hands. "We have to work together with our brothers and sisters. We must all be ambassadors of this cause, the cause is to ensure that our people refrain from this irregular migration," Manu said.

A number of Ghanaians have lost their lives as they sought to cross into Europe via smuggling routes.

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