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Over 9,000 stranded Ghanaians evacuated home

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More than 9,000 Ghanaians and resident permit holders stranded abroad were evacuated into the country during the five months that the nation’s airspace was closed to commercial flight to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced the closure of the country’s borders effective March 22, 2020 for an initial period of two weeks after which he extended it.

A statement issued by the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration on Friday to announce  the completion of the  evacuation exercise, said the stranded persons  were  brought in from about 27 countries.

The countries included Benin, Burkina Faso, China, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Liberia, Libya, Kenya, Kuwait, Mali, Oman, Qatar and Russian Federation.

The rest were flown in from Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, The Gambia, Togo, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom and United States of America.

It said the completion of the exercise followed the opening of the Kotoka International Airport to commercial flights on September 1, 2020 announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on August 30, 2020 in an address to the nation.

The evacuation exercise, which commenced on May 23, 2020, was in response to distress calls by Ghanaians and others who were stranded at various locations across the country.

In line with COVID-19 protocols, they were quarantined for two weeks for  mandatory testing and monitoring to prevent the spread of the virus.

“The government assisted and covered the cost of travel and quarantine of a number of Ghanaians, in particular those arriving from China, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, UAE and all the evacuations undertaken within the West Africa region, including all students who arrived during the period,” it said.

The statement said the Ministry received financial support from public-spirited  Ghanaians, including Kennedy Agyapong, Member of Parliament for Assin Central, who made a personal donation of $200,000 and raised an additional $228,650 from his friends and associates to give a total of $428, 650 towards the evacuation of Ghanaians from Lebanon.

It also mentioned Sethi Brothers, who donated GH¢200,000 to defray the cost of quarantine for passengers arriving from the United Kingdom. 

“The Ministry takes this opportunity to advise the general public to continue to observe the various protocols instituted to contain the virus, and to strictly adhere to global travel rules and regulations prior to travelling out of Ghana as well as register with Ghana Missions abroad wherever their final destination may be,” it said.

The statement thanked state and private agencies, including the Office of the President, the National COVID-19 Task Force, Ghana Missions abroad, airline companies, hotels and other stakeholders who collaborated with the ministry in the exercise.

BY TIMES REPORTER

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