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Foreign Minister says back-way deaths ‘weigh heavily on our hearts’

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By Alagie Manneh

Top officials of The Gambia government and stakeholders from NGOs and communities yesterday commenced a two-day national dialogue designed to address and find a lasting solution to the escalating irregular migration.

The discussions and deliberations, which also include traditional and religious leaders, are expected to come up with a national resolution on addressing back-way.

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In his statement, foreign affairs minister Dr Mamadou Tangara, blamed the “allure of opportunities abroad” and the “push factors at home” as contributions to the escalating trend.

 “The urgency of this gathering cannot be overstated. Irregular migration has claimed the lives of many of our youth, leaving families shattered and communities in mourning. It is an alarming reality that calls for a united response. Our objective is clear – to bring together stakeholders working tirelessly with our youth and on migration, to openly discuss best practices, challenges, and most importantly, to forge a national framework for comprehensive migration intervention, one that not only addresses the immediate crisis but also caters to the growing demand for youth empowerment,” he stated.

Turning to the recent sea disasters which claimed the lives of many Gambians, he extended his condolences to the bereaved families and added: “The lives lost, and those that remain unaccounted for, weigh heavily on our hearts, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families facing this immense tragedy. In this moment of grief, let me reassure you that the government stands unwavering in its commitment to the interest and welfare of Gambians, both at home and abroad.”

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He said the government remains resolute in its efforts to create an “environment where our youth can thrive, where their dreams are not extinguished by the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean Sea”.

Emmanuel Murwisi, IOM Gambia chief of mission, expressed the Mission’s readiness to work with the government, particularly under its Country Programme Strategy (2024-2028).

“IOM is committed to working with Government, development partners, sister UN agencies and civil society to enhance humanitarian border management to ensure that we reduce the [number of] young Gambian lives [being] lost as a result of irregular migration.”

The National Security Advisor, Abubakarr Suleiman Jeng, said in a statement on behalf of Mod K Cessay, the Chief of Staff of the Office of the President: “We are aware of the enormous challenges associated with irregular migration, including the immeasurable human and social cost to the country as our young people become victims of human rights violations, exploitation and abuse, including psychosocial trauma, in their journeys.”

The event, which is being organised at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre is themed ‘Building National Consensus on Migration Intervention.’

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