Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 5 August 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: Dubai charity steps in to help fund flights home for families from Ghana found sleeping in park

The group were sleeping in a park in the city’s Satwa district before Dubai Police took them in

A Dubai charity has set up a donation drive to help raise money to fly families from Ghana home. Chris Whiteoak / The National
A Dubai charity has set up a donation drive to help raise money to fly families from Ghana home. Chris Whiteoak / The National

A Dubai charity has stepped forward to help repatriate a group of men and women who were unemployed and homeless.

The group, all from Ghana, were sleeping in a park in the city’s Satwa district when Dubai Police was alerted of their plight on Sunday.

Some had camped out near the Consulate General of Ghana last week and were seeking financial aid to return home when repatriation flights begin.

On Wednesday, 77 men and three women were moved to an accommodation site in Al Quoz.

An additional seven women, including some who are pregnant, were placed in separate housing.

Dar Al Ber Society, a government-established charitable organisation in the city, has also set up a donation drive to help buy plane tickets home for the group.

The money raised will be used for food supplies and air tickets home for as many of these people as possible

Juhi Khan

“After we heard about their situation through a contact, we went down to the consulate, where many of the group were gathered and handed out food and drink,” said Juhi Khan from Dar Al Ber.

“We are now trying to help arrange tickets for these people through our Zayed Happiness Caravan initiative as many wish to go back to their home countries to be with family.

“The money raised will be used for food supplies and air tickets home for as many of these people as possible.

“We have set up an account so if anybody would like to contribute in helping these people legally, they can.”

Earlier, between 40 and 50 of the group were placed in temporary accommodation in Jebel Ali, but have since been relocated.

The move was facilitated by Dubai Police and the emirate's Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs.

Michael Agyapong, 23, wants to travel home when flights open up but cannot afford the flight ticket. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Michael Agyapong, 23, wants to travel home when flights open up but cannot afford the flight ticket. Chris Whiteoak / The National

Some of the group, aged between 20 and 55, lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic but some were unemployed prior to the outbreak.

A large majority were on visit visas searching for work when the borders closed in the UAE and Ghana on March 19 and March 22, respectively.

Kofi Mumuni, from the consulate’s welfare department, told The National more than 450 Ghanaians have registered with the mission to board repatriation flights.

They are expected to start flying later this month.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Kelly Clarke. News. Annan Mohammed Acheampong. Ghanaian nationals sleeping in a park in Dubai as many left jobless due to Covid. Monday, June 1st, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Dubai, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: Kelly Clarke. News. Annan Mohammed Acheampong. Ghanaian nationals sleeping in a park in Dubai as many left jobless due to Covid. Monday, June 1st, 2020. Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

“Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, some of our nationals lost their jobs and expressed a desire to return to Ghana,” he said.

“In early April, the Ghana consulate and embassy took the opportunity to ask those in the community who wanted to return home to register with us.

“We have since been working with Ghana and the UAE authorities in collaboration with Emirates airline to rescue our stranded nationals.

“Such arrangements are almost concluded and it is believed that the evacuation will hopefully begin by mid-June.”

Mr Mumuni said that, as in other countries, including Kenya, India and Pakistan, repatriation flights are not free or paid for by their governments.

“The cost of repatriation is paid for by the person wishing to return home,” he said.

“We received an original quote of Dh3,000 per flight when we started negotiating with the airline and it has now agreed to reduce the cost per head and will give the final charge soon.”

Updated: June 6, 2020 03:26 PM

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