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Libya war cuts financial lifeline for Ghana

Thousands of Ghanaian migrant workers have fled the fighting, leaving them without jobs and straining Ghana's remittance-dependent economy.

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Once an important financial lifeline to Ghana, more than 18,000 Ghanaian migrant workers are back in their home country and unemployed after having fled the violence of the Libyan civil war.

Although they are now safe, the workers' return ended the flow of money via remittances into Ghana, putting their families under economic strain.

Nearly 184,000 sub-Saharan Africans have fled Libya with the assistance of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) since the conflict began in February, mostly from neighboring countries. Almost all of the Ghanaian returnees are young men who are now unemployed.

For the families of the returned migrants, the homecoming is bittersweet.

Frank Opoko, a tailor, returned to Ghana on an IOM-assisted flight from Tunisia two months ago. His family welcomed his safe arrival.

“They feel happy, because we were in danger over there,” he said. “Our problem is that we are here empty-handed.... [We] have wives and children. How can [we] take care of them?”

Mr. Opoko migrated to Libya two years ago in search for work, after the death of his father put pressure on him to provide for his mother and younger siblings.

“In Africa here, only Libya has work. Burkina [Faso], no work. Nigeria, no work. Even South Africa is bad. So only Libya is okay for us,” he said.

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