The Support to the Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa Project, through the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), has presented assorted personal protective equipment (PPE), worth 40,000 Euros, to the Ghana Immigration Service in Accra.
Similar donations were made to Niger, Nigeria, Benin and Togo as part of the project’s activities to support the management of the covid-19 pandemic in the sub-region.
The project is jointly funded by the European Union (EU) and the ECOWAS Commission to ensure safe, healthy, and orderly movement, among others, at the borders.
It aims at maximising the development potential of free movement of persons and migration in West Africa.
Mr Pieter S. Van Gelder, the Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Ghana, said the support was to help Member States to conduct safe and healthy movement as their borders were being opened to the public.
He said the EU-EOWAS assistance, in response to the containment of the pandemic, amounting to overall budget of 200,000 Euros, was to support the five ECOWAS Member States through the provision of the PPE for their personnel operations at the most engaged point of entry.
Mr Kwame Asuah Takyi, the Comptroller-General of the Ghana Immigration Service, said the PPE were critical to the successful control of the COVID-19 and was grateful to the EU and the ECOWAS Commission for the donation.
He said the items would be distributed to personnel at the points of entry to support operations for safe and healthy movement of people and contribute to reduce the risk of infection.
Mr Takyi said the pandemic had had a tremendous socio-economic impact, with global response measures causing unprecedented mobility and movement restrictions worldwide, including Ghana.
He said in Ghana, as well as in the region, COVID-19 had put a spotlight on the national public health system and the role that points of entry play within the system.
“Challenges in terms of infrastructure and the large number of regular crossing points are well documented. These Challenges limit the ability of border management officials to respond to international public health emergencies or border-related crisis,” he said.
The Commissioner for Free Movement, ECOWAS Commission, Mr Tei Konzi, expressed the hope to replicate the support in all member states.
Ms Abibatou Wane-Fall, the IOM Chief of Mission Ghana (Resident), Benin and Togo, said the pandemic had exposed the infrastructure challenges of the Continent, adding: “This should serve as a wakeup call for all African leaders to strengthen both infrastructure and human resource capacity to fight future pandemics”.
She, therefore, pledged the IOM’s continued support and partnership with Ghana in the era of COVID-19 and beyond.