THE International Organisation for Migration’s (IOM’s) offices in Ghana and Iraq have helped a trafficked young Ghanaian migrant to return safely from Iraq to her home in Ghana’s Ashanti Region.
Linda (not her name), 22, was a teacher in a private school in Ghana, but was convinced by a middleman that she would earn more in Europe working as a waitress or as a supermarket assistant. He told her that he could arrange her passage to Europe and get her a job that would pay her $300 a month.
Linda agreed and paid him $250 for her passport and an initial $350 for transportation. She also promised to give him three months of her future pay.
But the day she left Ghana, she was told at the airport that she was headed to Erbil in Iraq, not to Europe as promised. There she was forced to work as a housemaid in harsh conditions, working long hours with little rest or food. Her employers took away her passport.
By chance she met a judge, who notified an NGO, Heartland Alliance International (HAI), about her case. HAI contacted IOM Iraq, which identified the case as one of human trafficking for which repatriation assistance was needed.
IOM Iraq helped Linda to leave her job, located a government shelter where she was provided with support for a month, and facilitated her repatriation to Ghana.
When she arrived in Ghana, IOM Ghana’s Assisted Voluntary Return and Reintegration programme provided her with onward transport to her hometown and initiated her reintegration. A business plan was drawn up and in October 2015 Linda opened a grocery shop, which she now runs in her hometown.
The operation was supported by IOM Iraq’s European Union-funded HIJRA-AMINA programme, which aims to enhance the migration management capacities of the Government of Iraq. Under the project, IOM Iraq provides assistance, repatriation and reintegration support to foreign nationals identified as victims of human trafficking.
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