Former Foreign Affairs Minister, Madam Hannah Tetteh, has said that the likelihood of xenophobic attacks happening in Ghana isn't all that remote if the circumstances that lead to this sort of occurrences are created.
According to Ms. Tetteh, a country's economic challenges seems to be the common factor in the rise of xenophobic sentiments around the world. Speaking on the subject of anti-immigration sentiments sweeping the globe, Ms. Tetteh highlighted the case of US President, Donald Trump's immigration policy, the recent Argentine immigration policy, and the aforementioned South African xenophobic attacks.
“In Ghana, by the way, we are not any different. …I think anything can happen anywhere given a certain set of circumstances, and, so, it’s important for us to make sure that we don’t allow those circumstances to be created. What was the basis for the Aliens Compliance Act? "
"I don’t want to go back into that history but let’s face it, at that time, it was felt that foreigners were controlling this economy much more so than Ghanaians. Therefore, there needed to be some form of regulation and as a result people were asked to move away in the 1960s,” she said, speaking to Etse Sikanku, host of World Affairs on Class91.3FM on Friday, March 3rd.
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Sharing her personal thoughts and experience on the issue of xenophobia, she noted that even Ghanaians have not been as hospitable as they purported.
“When I was at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we did a project with the National Identification Authority and Immigration [Service] where we had the foreigner registration and you had these foreigner ID cards that were issued. We discovered at that time that we had over 120 nationalities living in Ghana."
"When you look at what has happened or comments that come up about the Chinese and the way that they do business in Ghana or Nigerians and the way they do business in Ghana or Liberians as former refugees in Ghana who have stayed or as Ivorians who left as a result of the crisis that took place in their country a couple of years ago who are still here, how do we react to them? And generally we are not really as hospitable as we make ourselves out to be.”
The former foreign affairs minister noted that Ghanaians have recently become aware of xenophobic sentiments around the world due to advanced communication technologies, but that xenophobic attacks on foreigners is no new occurrence.
“Over the last decade, the world has gone through some economic challenges and [if] there is some amount of stagnation, then of course people begin to become more possessive and more selfish and want to see that the space they consider to be their space is protected.”
“I think because we have many more communication tools available we are becoming much more aware of some of the challenges that immigrants face and some of the negative sentiments whipped up against immigrants in different parts of the world. …When did we use to pay attention to what happens in Argentina in terms of what goes on in the news? What is happening in far places like in the Philippines, which really didn’t have much bearing on what happens in Ghana but with information access we know what is going on."
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