By Momodou Torp
Casamance refugees were recently integrated into Gambian communities as part of events marking refugees’ cultural day and skills display.
The event was supported by the UNHCR, GCR and GAFNA.
Speaking at the event held in Jalokoto Village in Foni, Mustapha Gomez, executive director of GAFNA said the refugee society in the West Coast Region are mainly Senegalese from the troubled Casamance region who share similarities in culture and socio-cultural bonds with the Gambian people.
He said the celebration signifies the importance culture serves in the lives of people in both countries.
“It is against this background that GAFNA as a national development NGO in partnership with UNHCR provide humanitarian and development assistance to refugees and their hosts in order to change their lives and improve their socio-cultural and economic status to continue to live in the Gambia peacefully,” Mr. Gomez stated.
He added that the support provided to the refugees is also designed to reduce some of the stress imposed on the refugees which is partly in the communities the refugees are staying.
He said this strategy recognises the opportunities of refugees and focuses more on assisting them before the end of UNHCR funding.
ASP Kodou Susso, protection officer for the refugees said culture serves as an identity and heritage for people.
According to her, the refugees will be safe and will enjoy their stay in The Gambia because the country is well known for its hospitality.
Ismail Badjie, councilor of Foni Berefet ward welcomed the initiative.