The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has stated that government spent GH₵8,725,000 and $1,866,934 in repatriating Ghanaians who were stranded in China and the United Arab Emirates respectively due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to her, the expenditure involved quarantine and air tickets.
An additional $475,895 was expended on evacuating those in West and Central African countries and a further GH₵44,460,530 spent to quarantine evacuees in eighty-five hotels spread across Accra, Prampram, Bolgatanga, Takoradi and Kasoa.
The cost of the hotel accommodation for the evacuees included three meals and water per day for the fourteen-day quarantine period.
Answering questions on the floor of Parliament Thursday, July 22, the Foreign Minister said some private individuals also made donations including the Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Mr Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, who mobilised $428,000 and a personal cash donation of $200,000 to support evacuation from Lebanon.
A cash donation of GH₵200,000.00 from Sethi Brothers was also received to subsidize the cost of quarantine of some evacuees from the United Kingdom, she told Parliament.
According to Ms Botchwey, government successfully evacuated 10,025 stranded Ghanaians during the evacuation across the globe using KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Ethiopian Airlines, Middle East Airlines, Emirates Airlines as well as the Ghana Air Force Casa aircraft which was used to evacuate those from West and Central African countries
A further 534 Ghanaians from Saudi Arabia, 233 from Qatar and 230 from Kuwait working as domestic workers in the Gulf whose plight got worsened during the pandemic were repatriated with the government absorbing the cost of quarantine, she said.
The Minister disclosed that Cabinet on Friday, May 22, 2020 approved a strategy paper presented by her Ministry with a further directive to develop an evacuation implementation plan for the evacuation of the stranded Ghanaians.
The implementation exercise, according to her, was put into effect on May 23, 2020 in collaboration with the Covid-19 Task Force to bring these stranded Ghanaians back home.
She said the evacuees comprised ability-to-pay migrants, government-funded evacuation of officials and state-sponsored students, the distressed or destitute comprising Ghanaians who travelled before the advent of the pandemic and returnees or deportees comprising Ghanaians who had been scheduled for removal from their various countries of abode.
The evacuation exercise, she noted, was undertaken in phases to ensure a well-coordinated exercise which decision was primarily informed by financial and logistical considerations such as the capacity of quarantine and isolation centres and the human resource capacity of the Covid-19 Task Force to hold large numbers of evacuees.
The Minister however revealed that donations from individuals did not go to Covid-19 Trust Fund because donors such as Ken Agyapong requested his monies spent on the destitute in Lebanon while Sethi Brothers directed their donation go to stranded Ghanaians in the United Kingdom.
She said justice for human right violations for the illegal migrants in the Gulf States could not be sought since they used different airports and unapproved routes, secured visas elsewhere and added that majority of these evacuees from Lebanon have since returned.