Ghana govt spent $250,000 to cater for Ghanaian students, community in virus hit China
London, Feb. 20, 2020 (AltAfrica)-The government of the West African state of Ghana has so far spent about $250,000 for the care of its students and other citizens in epidemic-stricken Wuhan province in China
The money according to Ghana’s Ambassador to China, Mr Edward Boateng, was expended on purchase of nose masks, sanitisers and groceries for Ghanaian students in the Hubei Province and others across China
Speaking in a telephone interview with Daily Graphic from his base in China. Ambassador Edward Boateng said Ghana’s mission in China could confidently state that it had been working hard to ensure the safety of all Ghanaians in China during these challenging times, noting that although he sympathised with the students and their families, it was not a gloom-and-doom situation, as was being portrayed.
Ambassador Boateng’s assurance came on the heels of Ghanaian students in Wuhan in the Hubei Province in China calling on the government to evacuate them because they have run out of essential supplies, including nose masks, food and water, as they remain confined to their rooms to avoid being infected with the dreaded strain of COVID-19, which has claimed more than 1,600 lives so far.
Throwing more light on the government’s interventions, Mr Boateng said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, immediately after the lock down of Wuhan and the Hubei Province from January 23, 2020, granted approval for the embassy to expend 100,000 Yuan, the equivalent of $14,326, to enable the embassy to purchase nose masks, sanitisers and some groceries for Ghanaian students in the Hubei Province and others across China.
“The embassy released 55,000 Yuan to NUGS China out of that amount and students in Wuhan were given 20,000 Yuan each, while others in other cities in Hubei received 10,000 Yuan each,” he said.
He said another 20,000 Yuan was given for the purchase of nose masks and sanitisers for distribution to all other students in China, while he personally donated 10,000 Yuan to the students in Wuhan.
He said another 30,000 Yuan was used to buy 10,000 masks which were distributed to the Ghanaian community in China.
Food and needed logistics
On food and other logistics, Mr Boateng said the mission was in constant touch with the universities and working with them to ensure that students constantly had access to food and other needed logistics.
He said whenever the Ghana students encountered any problems and informed the mission about them or the problems were reported, the mission swiftly intervened to solve them and went back to verify from the students if their needs had been addressed.
He said in the wake of experts’ advice against the immediate evacuation of the students from the Hubei Province, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released $250,000 to cater for Ghanaians in China and further directed that each student in the Hubei Province be given $500 equivalent in Yuan.
“The funds were received on Monday, February 17. The embassy has collated the list of eligible students and hopefully payment will commence on Tuesday. The money will be paid directly into their respective bank accounts,” he said.
The envoy mentioned the categories of students to receive the funds to include all full-time students currently in locked down Wuhan and the Hubei Province, students who were visiting Wuhan or Hubei and got caught in the lock down and all non-students who were verified as Ghanaian in Wuhan and Hubei.
He said the rest of the money would cater for Ghana students and Ghanaians throughout China with peculiar needs.
Meanwhile, parents of the students have renewed their demand for their children to be evacuated as soon as possible, giving the government a 72-hour ultimatum to act.
Addressing a press conference in Accra a spokesperson for the parents, Ms Irene Callixta Songotu, insisted that their children were suffering in their confined environments (university hostels) due to the situation in Wuhan because they had little access to food and other logistics.
She said the parents were ready to bear the financial cost of evacuation and co-operate with the government on any arrangement to hold the students in isolated areas in Ghana until it had been proved beyond all reasonable doubt that they posed no risk to the public.
“We want to draw the government’s attention to the Chinese publication that the African blood genetic resistance to the virus is three times stronger than other continents and, therefore, bringing them home will not pose any danger,” she said.
In response to the press conference by the parents, Mr Boateng expressed shock at some of the claims they made, such as the starving of the students.
“We want to plead with the parents to provide us with the names of their children they said were starving and lacked other basic logistics so that we will facilitate solutions. But to the best of my knowledge, all students on our list are safe and doing well,” he said.
He acknowledged the fact that the students would not be as comfortable as they were prior to the outbreak of the disease, but the situation was not all gloom and doom, as portrayed by the parents and some few students.
Mr Boateng appealed to the parents to bear with the government while it continued to deliberate with international stakeholders on the well-being of the students and said the government had not completely ruled out evacuation but was monitoring the situation.