The Foreign Affairs Ministry says the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the delay of processing emergency travel certificates for the deportation of illegal Ghanaian migrants in the United States to Ghana.
Answering a question on the floor of Parliament Wednesday, the sector Minister Shirley Ayorkor Botchway indicated that before coronavirus, 125 deportees were safely evacuated from the USA as part of arrangements that led to the lifting of the visa ban imposed on Ghana in 2019.
However, 22 people are currently going through interviews, awaiting deportation when Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted in pursuit of the agreement.
“A total of five meeting sections were held between May and December 2019. Till the lifting of the sanctions on January 15, 2020,” she said.
The US government imposed visa restrictions on Ghana for what it said was the Akufo-Addo government’s failure to issue travel documents to over 7,000 Ghanaian citizens awaiting deportation from the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security, in a statement last February, ordered the US Embassy in Ghana to discontinue issuing all non-immigrant visas (NIV) to some groups of Ghanaian applicants.
Limitations were also placed on the validity and the number of entries on new tourists and business visas for all Ghanaian Executive and Legislative branch employees, their spouses and their children under 21 years to a one-month single entry.
Since the imposition of the restrictions, some workers of public institutions who used to receive five-year visas now get up to three weeks maximum, with others having far less.
Subsequently, the ban was lifted.
“During the period of sanction, 125 Ghanaians who had been ordered to be removed from the US were deported. Currently, interviews for persons cited for deportation are ongoing an agreed by the two sides,” the Minister said.
However, in the wake of Covid-19 the issuance of emergency travel certificates to facilitate their removal has been deferred until boarders are reopened,” she stated.
The Foreign Minister further pledged her outfit together with the US embassy are following all the international protocols to evacuate the remaining deportees.
“It is important to state that whenever there was a need for specific intervention on humanitarian ground, be it, health or family, it was done by engaging the relevant US authority.”