By Momodou Darboe & Omar Bah
Some stranded Gambians in Lebanon yesterday vandalised the Gambian consulate in Beirut in an apparent explosion of fury and frustration over their continued stay in that country. Gambia Foreign Ministry sources confirmed the assault on The Gambia’s diplomatic compound in Beirut by the disgruntled Gambians.
Pictures of the vandalism have also emerged on social media. o months ago, The Standard was informed by some Gambians in Lebanon that at least 45 of them, most of em young ladies, were stranded in the troubled country and seeking help to be repatriated.
At the time, The Gambia’s consul in Beirut told this medium that efforts were underway to repatriate the stranded Gambians. Earlier this month, The Gambia Foreign Ministry announced it was working on repatriating them to Banjul. But pushed to the end of their tethers at the apparent tardiness or inaction from the officials, the aggrieved Gambians stormed the Beirut consulate where they caused damages to the property.
“Indeed we have received reports that the Gambian consulate in Beirut has been vandalised by some Gambians stranded in Lebanon,” foreign ministry spokesman Saikou Ceesay told The Standardlast evening.
“We condemn, in no uncertain term, this willful damage to property. The property housing the Gambian consulate in Beirut is a private one. We urge all Gambians to exercise their right to protest through peaceful means, ” he stated. Asked about the situation of the protesters, Ceesay reported that attempts were made by the Lebanese authorities to arrest the “vandals”.
“But it was the honorary consul who interceded on their behalf to avert this because preparations are at advanced stage for their return home and arresting them will cause delays.
We have already sought waivers and emergency passports were approved and stamped by the immigration department in Beirut,” he posited.
However, he could not say exactly which day the stranded Gambians will be airlifted. Over the past year, the economic situation in the Middle Eastern country has pushed tens of thousands of people into poverty foremost migrants workers like the now stranded Gambians.
A cataclysmic blast at the port in the nation’s capital earlier this month sent the country’s battered economy hurtling toward a dangerous unknown.