By Aji Fatou Faal
Ousainou Darboe, Minister for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation & Gambians Abroad has disclosed that the government has made tackling irregular/illegal migration a top priority.
He made this revelation while responding to a question posed by Hon. Alhagie Drammeh, Member for Jeshwang to explain what is being done to help Gambians stranded in Europe, Libya and Morocco during the third ordinary session of the 2017 Legislative year.
He further said that it plans to focus on creating jobs and training opportunities to reduce the unemployment rate among young people. He also reaffirmed government’s engagement with its partners, such as EU, IOM, UNICEF, by exploring new avenues on how to address the root causes of illegal migration.
According to him, premised on the hope of better Gambia, many stranded Gambians have returned to Banjul on voluntary basis adding that pursuant to the above mentioned goal, his ministry the primary institution responsible for the welfare of Gambians abroad, is re-engaging relevant international organizations and friendly countries in not only reversing the situation but also ensuring that the welfare of Gambians, wherever they are, is adequately addressed.
He stated that the Ministry through their Missions/Embassies abroad as well as cooperation with other countries, is constantly in touch with the relevant authorities of respective countries where Gambians are being stranded to ensure their welfare and/or repatriation, where necessary.
Darboe told members that this has resulted in several missions to countries where Gambians are being held to ascertain their nationality and also ensure that they are well treated repatriated.
“Such missions include but not limited to Switzerland, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, United Kingdom, Norway and Spain. Consulars are regularly conducted by resident Embassy staff and by our Honorary Consul where an Embassy is not present,” he said.
He revealed that through liaison with the Secretary General of the Gambian Association in Tripoli, Edrisa Sarjo, the Ministry is constantly being abreast about the situation of Gambians in Libya. “The Association conveys to the Ministry information regarding their conditions of stay as well as their needs and other issues relating to their welfare. Through the combined efforts of the stakeholders- MoFA, MoI, Libyan Embassy and IOM-and that of the Association, the Ministry granted approval for the repatriation to Banjul by IOM of many stranded Gambians.”
He concluded that in collaboration with their mission/embassy in Rabat, every effort is being taken to ensure that all stranded Gambians within the Kingdom are safe and welfare ensured. “Such efforts include but not limited to, regular consular visits and frequent communication with the relevant Moroccan authorities”.