The cargo which was arrested in Ghana by Security agencies of Ghana and Canada last week was carrying Sri Lankan migrants, mostly ethnic Tamils, National Post reported.
The fishing vessel, MV Ruvuma believed to be used in trafficking people from West- Africa coast to Europe was detained by the agencies at Thema Port in Ghana.
“A number of migrants were trying to complete their journey to Canada,” Richard Anamoo, Director General of Ghana Ports and Harbours said.
The would-be passengers were some of the 209 Sri Lankan migrants who fled their homeland by paying smugglers to take them to Canada, but — after travelling through India and Ethiopia — were abandoned in Togo in November. They were taken into custody and kept in an open sports stadium in Lomé, Togo’s capital.
Since then, 164 of them accepted voluntary return to Sri Lanka; 42 had not decided whether to return home; while three claimed asylum in Togo. During the Togo incarceration, four migrants escaped and their whereabouts are unknown, according to the International Organization for Migration.
Authorities would not say if any of those arrested in Ghana were the absconders from Togo. Ghanaian authorities say all those arrested are Sri Lankan nationals and none are Canadian. The names of those arrested were being withheld pending investigation.
Jason Kenney, Canada’s immigration minister, said the operation is a warning about illegal migration.
“This is yet another example proving that we must remain vigilant,” Mr. Kenney said.
“Canadian authorities abroad are to be commended for the hard work they are doing to crack down on criminal human smuggling rings and prevent these human smuggling operations from leaving, endangering the lives of countless people.”
Spokesman of Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa, Jean-Bruno Villeneuv said human smuggling networks in Southeast Asia continue to actively target Canada as a destination.
Canadian monitoring of suspected people smugglers has been a government priority after an influx of illegal migrants first began arriving by sea on Canada’s west coast.
The freighter MV Sun Sea arrived at Victoria, B.C. in August 2010 carrying 492 Sri Lankan Tamils. A year earlier the MV Ocean Lady sailed into B.C. waters carrying 76 Tamil asylum seekers.