By Awa Macalo
The United Nation, International Migration Organization (IOM) in partnership with the government of The Gambia launched the Migration Multi Partner Trust Fund Project which aimed to address the causes of migration-related vulnerabilities among border communities along the Trans-Gambia transport corridor.
The three years project to be jointly implemented by the IOM, International Trade Centre ITC, UNDP and UNICEF in the LRR and NBR will assist women, youth and children along the Trans-Gambia transport corridor to claim their rights, utilize appropriate protection services and mechanisms and increase protection of children on the move.
Speaking at the inauguration held at the OIC conference Centre, Yassin Gai, a representative of the ITC explained that the project was conceptualized last year following a series of consultations between the relevant ministries, agencies and stakeholders.
She explained that despite the abundance of opportunities brought by the construction of the Senegambia bridge which continues to enhance and facilitate the movement of people and trade opportunities, it has also exacerbated vulnerabilities, particularly for women and youth living in border towns along the route.
“Given the country’s large, porous, and infrequently guarded borders, the border settlements of Jarra West and Upper Baddibu are particularly vulnerable. High rates of irregular migration of young people, human trafficking, smuggling of migrants and other forms of organized crime and harassment of women at border posts, in particular female traders are the priority issues that the program seeks to address.
UN resident coordinator Seraphine Wakana, expressed profound gratitude to the government for the continued support, close coordination and engagement during the design and inception phase of this joint program calling it a manifestation of commitment to trade, cross-border cooperation, migration and development.
Deputy permanent secretary Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional integration and Employment. Hassan Gaye, commended the program manager and team for recognizing the creative devastation that comes with infrastructure construction while assisting communities and individuals in coping with adversity.
Minister of Interior Seyaka Sonko, who described Gambia as a country of transit and destination for an increasing number of migrants, said there is a need for increased capacity to manage borders in order to fulfill their urgent and expanding demands, especially given the country’s restricted capacity for national security monitoring.
“Today’s occasion marks another milestone in the development agenda of the Gambia and is yet another testimony of the strong relationship between the Government of The Gambia and her key partners under the leadership of President Adama Barrow. Over the past years, my Ministry has received several support from various partners to strengthen border management practices in The Gambia,” said Minister Sonko.