The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) has pledged to continue to repatriate illegal immigrants and foreigners who enter the country during these coronavirus times.
According to the GIS, since the closure of the country’s border on March 15 as a result of the outbreak of the virus, the country has witnessed more than 1,500 ECOWAS nationals who have illegally crossed Ghana’s borders.
Speaking in an interview with an Accra-based radio station, Head of Public Affairs at the Immigration Service, Superintendent Michael Amoako Atta said the only option for his outfit is to send back immigrants whose COVID-19 status are not known.
“The borders are closed. As a Service, we have the option of repatriating immediately, people who attempt to enter the country through unapproved routes, because we always say safety first. The challenge here is that if we should try to put these people within our detention centres, our officers have to interact with them by taking their statements and all that. Nobody knows their status at the point of interception and then the sudden spread of this virus will be possible.”
He further urged the border communities to co-operate with the service to prevent the spread of the virus.
“So the best option for the safety and security of our officers, the border communities, and the nation is to immediately send them back to where they came from and that is what we are doing. For us, we think it is the best option. But then if we have the full support and cooperation of border community members, the fight will be an easier one,” he said.
It can be recalled that on May 4, 2020 the Ghana Immigration Service in a statement said it has repatriated some nineteen Burkinabes who were arrested at the Savelugu inland post in the Northern Region for entering Ghana illegally.
According to the GIS, interrogations proved that these foreign nationals entered the country through unapproved routes.
“The officers asked that they are sent back. The driver of the vehicle was very cooperative with the officers. Due to the fact that some Ghanaian nationals who were also onboard the vehicle could be inconvenienced, a call was placed to the manager on the OA Transport company, named Kingsley, who arranged for another vehicle from Tamale to convey them back to the Paga Border post to be repatriated, “ the statement said.
Closure of Ghana’s borders
Ghana has closed its land, sea, and air borders with the restriction on movement of public buses crossing land borders except it is transporting goods and cargo.
The move is part of efforts to stop the spread of Coronavirus in the country.
But since the border closure, many foreign nationals have been arrested in different parts of the country using unapproved routes to enter the country.
A statement issued by the Immigration Service on May 5 to notify the arrest of 18 foreigners who illegally entered the country disclosed that the Western Region alone has recorded about 190 people who have been arrested and sent back to their country.
“This [the arrest] brings the number of interceptions and repatriation of persons made by the Ghana Immigration Service in the Western Region, through intensified surveillance/patrols and with the support of the various sister security agencies to about 190, since the closure of the country’s borders,” the statement said.