The first batch of Ghanaians who were stranded in Libya has arrived safely at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) in Accra, from the troubled North African country.
The all-male returnees, numbering 55, touched down between 1.30pm and 2.00pm on Saturday on board Egypt Air.
They were taken to the Aviation Social Center near the airport by officers of the National Disaster Management Organization (NADMO) and some government officials for screening before heading for their various homes.
According to government officials, those who returned were close to the Egyptian border, so it was not difficult to airlift them.
Kwabena Dwemena, a Ghanaian resident in Benghazi, Libya’s industrial city, who spoke to the media, said the situation was getting out of hand and the government needed to do something to help them without delay.
“I had been in my room for 11 days. You cannot go out. If you venture you could easily be killed,” he lamented.
Pressure is mounting on the government to evacuate over 10,000 Ghanaians in Libya, as some of them alleged that the telephone numbers given by the government for them and their family members back home to contact, to ensure a smooth evacuation exercise, did not appear to be effective.
Anxiety is beginning to set in among Ghanaians, particularly residents of Nima, a suburb of Accra, where it is believed many have relatives in Libya.
Asibi Mohammed, a food vendor, told DAILY GUIDE that she had a brother in Tripoli, but since the disturbance started, she had heard from him only once, adding that her son told her the situation was getting serious.
Another Nima resident who gave her name as Fauzia said she had two sons in Libya but had not heard from either of them. She made a passionate appeal to the government to step up the evacuation exercise.
“My brother is in Tripoli. He called to say that there is sporadic gun fire every day. All countries are evacuating their citizens. I will plead with the government to bring our brothers and sisters out of the place,” Oumar Alhassan said.
According to the Ministry of Information, close to 4,000 Ghanaians, out of the estimated 10,000 expected to be airlifted home in Libya, had been registered.
The repatriation became necessary due to increasing anti-government protests that have rocked that country in the past 14 days.
Enormous pressure from Ghanaians, both home and abroad, has been mounted on the Government to evacuate Ghanaians resident in the North African country following the political unrest there.
Government had earlier said Ghanaians were not in danger since black Africans were not being targeted. But the evacuation became necessary as xenophobic attacks were reported.
The reports that Ghanaian soldiers were collaborating with Libyan security forces to suppress the political uprising against the Libyan leader, Col Muammar Gaddafi, has already been denied by the Ghanaian government.
Deputy Information Minister Baba Jamal told Citi FM on Friday that “every single Ghanaian will be evacuated from that country, whether they are illegal immigrants or not.”
The returnees are accusing Ghana Embassy officials in Tripoli of neglecting them.
They however praised officials of Ghana mission in Cairo for coming to their aid.
But Baba Jamal told Joy FM the volatile situation in Libya might have prevented the embassy officials from offering the necessary help. He however indicated that the complaints would be looked into.
He had said a temporary structure would be created at the El-Wak Sports Stadium and Trade Fair site in Accra, to accommodate the returnees for a while, before they were reunited with their families.
An unprecedented wave of revolutions currently sweeping across North Africa and other parts of the Middle East has already seen presidents of Tunisia and Egypt respectively toppled, but the turmoil in Libya is deadly.
Colonel Muammar Al-Qathafi, the Libyan dictator who has stayed in power for 42 years, has said he would not succumb to demands by protesters asking him to resign and insisted he would rather die a martyr.
According to BBC, information from Libya remained difficult to verify and many reports could not be independently confirmed. The total number of deaths has been impossible to determine.
However, Human Rights Watch said it had confirmed nearly 300 deaths, but the International Federation for Human Rights said at least 700 people had been killed while Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said estimates of 1,000 dead were “credible.”
Masses of foreigners are still struggling to leave Libya, with the situation at Tripoli airport described as mayhem.
Ghana Supports Libyan Struggle
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, last Saturday stated that the Ghanaian government supported the people of the North African country in their struggle for freedom, A.R. Gomda writes.
“Our hearts are with the Libyan people in their struggle for freedom,” he said in a clear betrayal of President Atta Mills ‘dzi wu fie asem’ mantra.
Perhaps, this would put paid to the suggestion by some that Ghanaian soldiers are fighting on the side of pro-Gaddhafi troops, speculation which has already been denied by government.
The minister was speaking to the BBC yesterday during an extensive coverage on the crisis in that country, especially against the backdrop of the entrapment of Ghanaians.
The Ghana government, he told the international network, was supportive of the people of Libya in their struggle to seek freedom, adding also that “we are concerned about the safety of our people in that country.”
His response was prompted by a question about what government reaction was to the plight of Ghanaians in Libya as they were under the threat of xenophobic attacks from anti-Gaddhafi rebels who considered them as part of the so-called West African mercenaries said to have been brought in by the embattled Libyan leader to fight for him.
Category: Ghanaians Abroad