The International Organization for Migration [IOM], has joined some border communities from both Paga in the Kassena-Nankana West District and Namoo, in the Bongo District, to celebrate the 2023 edition of the International Migrants Day at Paga. This year’s celebration under the theme; “Honouring the contributions of migrants and respecting their rights”, also had the full participation of the Paga Command of the Ghana Immigration Service and the Paga Youth Movement.

The IOM is a forefront organization within the United Nations [UN], with the mandate of promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all.

Immigration and Border Governance Officer with the Immigration and Border Governance Unit of IOM-Ghana, Mr. Kojo Wilmot speaking at the celebration, explained that the essence of the 2023 theme is to raise awareness on the issue of exploitation whilst highlighting the positive contribution of migrants to societies. He revealed that the International Migrants Day was set aside in 1990 by the UN General Assembly to commemorate the contribution and sacrifices of migrants worldwide and that, the day has since been observed annually on 18th December. 

Mr. Wilmot said his outfit as a migrant-focused organization, migrants remain the core of its interventions and the organization will always do everything possible, including working with like-minded stakeholders to live up to that expectation of managing migration for the benefit of all. He said the IOM was championing the year’s celebration under the banner, “Act Now, for a Better Tomorrow” because the observation has been made that, “many a times, migrants are usually at the receiving end of attacks when there are issues in the border management space and in some host communities”. He noted however that, one cannot deny the fact that migrants and their families have over the years, made valuable contributions to the development of communities and as such, ought to be seen and treated just like any other regular citizen.

The IOM Officer revealed that, there were some radio talks on a local FM Station to create awareness in the area, on the significance of the migrants day and the events in Paga to mark the celebrations. The activities included a two-day free health screening session and a friendly football match between the border management security personnel and the community dialogue platforms’ team, composed of members from Paga and Namoo.

He added that while the health screening; focused on high blood pressure test, HIV, hepatitis B, glucose/sugar level tests among others, will ensure that the border community dwellers and the security personnel were fit or directed on what to do with their health, the football game would further foster the unity and socialization between the security and border communities so as to boost their social cohesion in order to enhance security at the country’s borders. This he emphasized, was even more imperative owing to the violent extremist attacks recorded in neighbouring Burkina Faso, in recent times. “We are pushing for social cohesion, where the community and the border management agencies have a good relationship that they work together, with everyone given the opportunity to assist or contribute to the border management efforts of the country”, he stated.

According to Mr. Wilmot, the free health screening which was in partnership with the district health directorate, targeted to serve some 300 patrons whilst some two sessions of focused group discussions were also held with stakeholders. One was with the IOM and the border management security team and the other, involved the Paga and Namoo community dialogue platform members and the IOM. It came to light during these discussions that, the IOM has been assisting the various platforms to do public sensitization of the “see something, say something” campaign and other community sensitization outreach on border security.

The Kassena-Nankana West District Chief Executive Hon. Gerard Ataogye who also addressed stakeholders at the events, expressed his joy at seeing efforts being rolled out by various stakeholders geared at helping to safeguard the security at the country’s borders like Paga, Bongo and elsewhere. He noted that such efforts by the IOM, the border management security team, the Paga Youth Movement and the community dialogue platforms are very laudable as they fall directly in line the Assembly’s implementation of the Gulf of Guinea Social Cohesion [SOCO] Project.

Hon. Ataogye charged stakeholders to continue fortifying the bond of cooperation and the sharing of timely and accurate information as this is a vital ingredient in taming the infiltration of cross-border crimes. Meanwhile, he commended the IOM for a modern isolation health facility and an adjunct Water, Sanitation and Hygiene [WASH] block it constructed, furnished and handed over to the Port Health Authorities at the Paga Border back in June 2023.

Aside this, the IOM has also provided mechanized water supply systems and water pumps for some of the border communities to enable them do all-year-round farming thus, giving community members a source of livelihood which then takes their minds off any possible inducements by extremists or indulging in any obnoxious associations. In addition, drought-resistant seedlings were distributed to the farmers.

The planned friendly football match came off on Friday December 15, to climax the activities. Kick off time was around 1630GMT and it was the Community Dialogue Platform team that netted the first goal at about 1651GMT with the Border Management team pulling an equalizer just few minutes into the second half around 17:11GMT. At full time, the two teams had a stalemate and the whistle for a penalty shoot-out ended in the former carrying the day with five balls into the net of the latter, who only fell shot by one. Trophies, medals and other IOM souvenirs were subsequently presented to the participating teams as well as match officials on the day.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *