Embassy vows to aid embattled Chinese gold miners in Ghana

Accra agrees to allow illegal workers free passage, but will arrest any in mining areas

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 08 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 08 June, 2013, 4:04am

All Chinese mine workers in Ghana will be given assistance to return home voluntarily, the Chinese embassy in Ghana said yesterday, with the Ghanaian authorities agreeing to stop detaining Chinese on roads between mining sites and the capital, Accra.

Between Saturday and Wednesday, at least 160 Chinese were detained in a crackdown on illegal mining. They would be deported to China next week, Ghana's Immigration Service said.

Many Chinese had subsequently become targets of looting and attacks and had gone into hiding in forests and villages when armed police raided mines, supermarkets and hotels in Kumasi, Obuasi and Dunkwa, in the Ashanti region. Ghana's government said most of the illegal gold prospectors in the country were Chinese. An estimated 50,000 Chinese miners are in Ghana, most from Guangxi .

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Ghana, Yu Jie, said all embassy officials had been sent to look for Chinese mine workers hiding in the Ashanti region.

"After negotiations, Ghana's government has now agreed to stop detaining Chinese citizens in public places, except in mining sites," Yu said. "To those Chinese who want to leave Ghana, we promise to pick them up safely and return them to China. We will help every Chinese in Ghana but the problem is how to contact those in hiding, who have lost contact with the outside world."

Agence France-Presse quoted an immigration official in Accra as saying about 100 Chinese would be deported "by the middle of next week" and would not face criminal charges.

Witnesses said the panic in the Chinese had started to abate.

"In a single day on Thursday, we heard more than 100 Chinese mine workers had been discovered and transferred to the capital," the secretary general of the Chinese Mining Association, Su Zhenyu , said. "But there are still many robberies targeting Chinese. And thousands of Chinese workers are still in danger."

Events in Ghana have troubled many residents of Guangxi's Shanglin county, where most of the illegal miners are from.

In the past month, several families in the towns of Mingliang and Dafeng have been told their sons have been shot dead or severely injured by armed robbers. On Wednesday and Thursday, hundreds of Shanglin residents took to the county's streets, calling for central government help to get their relatives home.

The son of Wen Haijian , from Tangmazhuang village in Dafeng, returned home yesterday with the ashes of his father, who was killed by robbers on May 27 at a mine in Dunkwa.