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GAFNA celebrates World Refugee Day

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By Olimatou Coker

The Gambia Food and Nutrition Association (GAFNA) in partnership with the UNHCR on Thursday celebrated World Refugee Day 2024 held at GAFNA office in Bakau.

World Refugee Day is commemorated annually to shed a light on the plight of those uprooted from their home country because of violent conflict or all the issues like religious and cultural differences. The theme of this year’s celebration focuses on “Solidarity with and solutions for refugees”.

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Gambia Refugee Comission and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees play a lead role in championing their rights, ensuring their safety and building support for their economic and social inclusion.

This is coming in regions that have attracted dignitaries and stakeholders from across various domains for discussions on thematic issues capable of enhancing the welfare of refugees.

Yusupha Gomez, the Executive Director of GAFNA,  said over the years GAFNA  has adopted a self-reliance and livelihood strategy. The assistance currently provided to refugees and their host by GAFNA  through UNHCR funding, is in the following areas:

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(1) Provision of Water Supply for both domestic and vegetable gardening in most communities, and in schools, and  (2) Agricultural and horticultural support with working towards certified vocational training and live youth activities to enhance economic empowerment and self-reliance.

“GAFNA has been in partnership with UNHCR for more than two decades and has since been supporting the welfare of refugees and asylum seekers residing in The Gambia through UNHCR funding”.

Executive Director Gomez, also said this  year’s theme reminds both the refugees and hosts here in The Gambia that both UNHCR and Governments the world over including host communities are in solidarity with refugees in assisting them to live dignified and decent lives wherever they exist.

Samson Lassy, a refugee representative, thanked the government for the hospitality and for creating an enabling environment for the refugees to stay in The Gambia peacefully .

“We appreciate the stability and peace co-existence accorded to us the refugees in the Gambia, we also like to extend profound gratitude to UNHCR for the support they are giving us the refugees and others persons of concern”.

Speaking on behalf of the refugees in The Gambia, Lassy called on the UNHCR and other donor agencies to extend their helping hands in supporting their refugee children who are in  lower and upper basic schools in The Gambia.

Ebrima Manneh, Commissioner, Gambia Commission For Refugee, said: “A day of profound significance that reminds us of our shared responsibilities to support and stand in solidarity with refugees around the globe.”

Commissioner Manneh added that this  year’s theme “solidarity with refugees is very important, and it resonates deeply with the spirit of compassion and unity that we as Gambians are dearly known for. As we reflect on the plight of refugees, we are reminded of the countless individuals and families who have been forced to flee their homes due to conflict, persecution, and violence”.

Ebrima Jahateh, the Representative from the Gambia Immigration Department, assured that his department will continue working with relevant authorities to provide services to refugees where and whenever needed.

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