By Amadou Jadama
The Gambia on Monday joined the rest of the world to commemorate world refugee day under the theme ‘seeking safety is a human rightsat a ceremony held at refugee poultry processing and preservation plant at Manyina Foñi West Coast Region.
Gambia is said to host about 4,000 refugees fleeing instability in some of the neighbouring countries such as Casamance, Côte D’ Ivoire, Togo and Somalia.
Executive Director of Gambia Food and Nutrition Association (GAFNA) Yusufa J Gomez said the commemoration is an opportunity for refugees all over the world to come together, reflect on their plights and renew their resolve to start a life that will give them hope in their countries of asylum.
He added that the celebrations of this year in the Gambia coincided with the displacement of over 600 persons fleeing from the recent shootings between the Senegalese security and MFDC separatists and hosted in the Fonis.
“This year’s theme reminds both the refugees and their hosts in the Gambia that they have the full support of both UNHCR and the government in assisting them to live dignified and decent lives,” Gomez reiterated.
The GAFNA director lamented that these new refugees are particularly faced with enormous challenges ranging from feeding, accommodation, health to social protection.
“Their hosts have been sharing the little food and other assets with these asylum seekers thus depleting their assets. These people need urgent assistance from the Government, UN agencies, NGOs/CSOs and other humanitarian agencies in order to improve their current situation of hardship in their host communities “he urged.
Commissioner of the Gambia Immigration Department for West Coast Region Lamin Jatta said as the department responsible for the movement of people in and out of the country, GID has given maximum priority to refugees and asylum seekers by ensuring they are processed upon arrival at our borders.
Commissioner Jatta reiterated his department’s commitment to continue working with relevant authorities to provide services to refugees who choose Gambia as their host country.
Superintendent Omar Camara, who represented the police commissioner of the West Coast Region urged the refugees to continue to abide and respect the laws of the country at all times.
Ma Bintou Sanneh, a representative of the refugee community, thanked the government and the people of the Gambia for the overwhelming hospitality and support accorded to them.