By Juldeh Njie
The Gambia has remembered the over 65million refugees around the globe when it joined the rest of the world last Wednesday to mark World Refugee Day.
June 20 is set aside by the UN to mark the day.
The rationale is to raise awareness on the state of affairs and plight of refugees around the world.
Wednesday’s celebration began with a march past led by the police band from the Gambia National Petroleum Company in Kanifing to the Friendship hotel in Bakau where senior government officials, refugees and UN systems gathered and reflected on the plight of these exiles.
Displaying banners calling for ‘We need education for our children,’ ‘No to xenophobia against refugees,’ ‘No one becomes refugee by choice,’ the marchers called for action in addressing the plight of refugees.
They also called for tolerance, inclusivity, hospitality, better shelters et cetera.
The country head of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, Mr Sekou Saho, called for legislation of more laws and policies to better help address plight of refugees.
KMC Mayor Talib Bensouda said The Gambia recognises the hardships and challenges refugees are faced with, and said the country will continue welcoming them and devise ways to further alleviate their sufferings.
“…Because doing so reflects our Gambian values and noble tradition as a nation,” he said.
Mathew Moriba, who spoke on behalf of the refugees, said the day provides an opportunity for governments and people to remember those ‘brothers and sisters’ who are still facing war in Sudan, DRC and other places.
He expressed appreciation at the love and care rendered to them by The Gambia, however, he added: “We are still asking for help with some of the serious problems and suffering we are facing. We need better health care, education and other social amenities for our children. We need your intervention.”
Yusupha Gomez, exective secretary of the Gambia Food and Nutrition Association, GAFNA, said his institution was already devising measures to address the many challenges refugees face.
“We have built partnerships with UNHCR to provide humanitarian assistance to refugees in order to reduce their vulnerability and improve their social status as they continue to live in The Gambia.
Interior Minister Ebrima Mballow said the day is a unique moment to not only look and reflect on the needs of refuges, but those communities and people around the world who receive them including the internally displaced people.