Ghanaian rapper and songwriter, Kofi Kinaata, has become IOM, the UN Migration Agency’s first Goodwill Ambassador to promote safe migration in Ghana. He will be supporting IOM’s advocacy and fundraising efforts, including educating young Ghanaians about the dangers associated with the journey across the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea to reach North Africa and Europe.
Kinaata will support IOM Ghana’s Aware Migrants Information Campaign through the release of a new song aimed at encouraging Ghanaian youth to value their lives and not take unnecessary risks in chasing illusionary greener pastures. The Aware Migrants Information Campaign is part of the Engaging West African Communities (EWAC) project funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
From 20 to 21 November, Kinaata travelled to the Brong Ahafo Region with Sylvia Lopez-Ekra, IOM Ghana Chief of Mission, as his first official trip. He met with the Brong Ahafo Regional Minister; visited the Migration Information Centre (MIC) set up by IOM and currently managed by Ghana Immigration Service in the city of Sunyani; and visited a pilot farm established by IOM through the Ghana Integrated Migration Management Approach (GIMMA) project in Nkoranza. The farm employs young returnees and provides alternative livelihood generation for potential migrants among other activities. The GIMMA project is funded by the European Union and jointly implemented by IOM Ghana and the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS).
“Kofi Kinaata, as one of the most talented contemporary Ghanaian singers, has a huge fan base among young people including those in areas prone to high migration. His engagement with IOM can truly contribute to saving many Ghanaian lives that are lost or negatively affected by irregular migration every year,” said Lopez-Ekra. “Having friends and acquaintances who have chosen to migrate irregularly, he has embraced the safe migration cause wholeheartedly. We are thankful for his involvement with our work,” she added.
In 2016, 5,636 Ghanaian migrants arrived in Italy by sea, an increase from 4,431 in 2015. Most Ghanaians trying to reach Europe irregularly travel through Libya, where currently, tens of thousands of the estimated 700,000 migrants living in the country suffer horrendous human rights abuses by the hands of traffickers. IOM has reported and condemned the exploitation of migrants in Libya since April 2017 when a video emerged showing African migrants in Libya being sold as slaves.
In 2017, IOM Ghana has so far facilitated the return of 241 Ghanaians from Libya and Niger. IOM will continue to assist stranded Ghanaians who need humanitarian assistance through the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in Africa. The returnees are provided with reintegration assistance based on their needs. IOM and partners also support returnees with orientation towards innovative income-generating activities which have a socio-economic impact on their community of origin.