The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and Gambians Abroad yesterday stated that deaths of Gambian migrants have been recorded in Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco and Tenerife in the Canary Islands at different times following rescue operations and interceptions at sea or on shore since early October 2023.
A statement from the ministry said the Government regrets to acknowledge these deaths while extending sympathy and condolences to bereaved families across the country.
The statement also revealed that there has been a surge of Gambians travelling irregularly through the Mediterranean to Europe and consequently resulting in deaths as a result of their boats capsizing or being lost at sea for a number of days beyond the expected time of arrival, causing lack of food and water.
“The Government wishes to inform everyone to desist from facilitating or embarking on such perilous journey that is costing the lives of our youth and the public is informed that the Senegalese, Mauritanian and Moroccan coast guards and navy are patrolling their waters to intercept irregular migrant boats.
Currently, three different boats have been intercepted and rescued by the Moroccan Royal Navy around Dakhla carrying 61, 46 and 26 Gambian migrants respectively. These brings the total number of Gambian migrants being evacuated from Morocco to The Gambia at 133,” the statement from MoFA said.
It further disclosed that in the past three weeks, almost every other day, the Senegalese border police have been intercepting Gambian migrant boats. “On 12 November 2023, the Senegalese border Police informed and requested The Gambia High Commission in Dakar to facilitate the evacuation of 175 Gambian migrants, whose boats were intercepted and rescued at Sea.
In view of the above, everyone is requested to be vigilant and inform The Gambia Immigration Department and Gambia Navy about any boats seen carrying irregular migrants or any boat on the verge of embarking on such a perilous journey,” the statement said.
According to MoFA, Gambian missions in Senegal, Mauritania, Morocco, and Spain continue to work with the authorities in those countries with a view to getting the exact figure and details of fatalities.
The government, the statement added, will continue its bilateral engagements in a bid to creating more regular pathways through labour and circular migration schemes and will invest more into skills and vocational training as career paths for our youth.
“The Government wishes to assure the general public that, it will continue to do everything within its powers to cater for the welfare and well-being of Gambian migrants everywhere,” it concluded.