The start of mass deportations to Ghana…
The UK Immigration minister, Damian Green, visited Ghana on 27-28th September 2011 as part of his tour of West Africa. The first mass deportation charter flight to Ghana took place just over a month after this warning, on 4th November 2011.
According to the British High Commission in Accra:
“During his visit, the Minister held constructive meetings with the Deputy Attorney General/Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Ebo Barton-Odro , the Deputy Minister of Interior Mr. Kwabena Acheampong, and the Director of Immigration, Dr. Peter Wiredu.
The highlight of his visit was his delivery of a public lecture on the UK’s Immigration policy and its implication on Ghana, at the University of Ghana. The Minister used his lecture to reiterate that the UK is still open to the “brightest and the best”, who stand to positively contribute to the development of both countries. He gave a clear message on the dangers, to the migrants themselves, and to source and destination countries, of irregular migration.”
In his speech (link removed from internet), he warned Ghanaians not to risk the overland migration route to the UK: “Travelling through the Sahara desert in the back of overheated trucks, claims the lives of nearly half of the people who attempt the journey”.
Damian Green also commented that: “The life of an undocumented migrant in the UK is not a happy one. You will be exploited by unscrupulous employers, who will pay you far below the amount you need to survive. You will live in squalid conditions, because you can’t afford rent. Many irregular migrants end up working in the sex industry or as domestic slaves. They have nobody to turn to”.
He reassured business executives that they would face no restrictions on their visits to the UK: “The senior business roles covered by the Intra-Company Transfer route, serving some of the biggest and most profitable firms in the UK, will not be affected by our limit.“
Green told the audience that: “The Government takes a strong line on removing those people who do not comply with immigration laws. We will remove you.“
Damian Green, announced in Parliament on 7th February 2012 that “We continue to exploit opportunities to increase returns. This includes opening and consolidating new charter routes to Ghana, Pakistan and Sri Lanka…The agency will continue to focus on maximising productivity from all its enforcement assets including reporting centres, arrest teams, immigration removal centres and charter flights.”.
The second mass expulsion of Ghanaians took place a week after this, on 15th February 2012. This flight was met with mass resistance outside the Immigration Removal Centres, where anti-deportation campaigners blocked the exit roads for 7-hours in protest. 11 people were arrested and charged with Section 14 – for causing ‘serious disruption to the life of the community’. The British-Ghanaian community could make the same charge against Damian Green.