By Omar Bah
The Minister of Interior, Mai Ahmad Fatty has revealed that plans are underway for the resumption of the issuance of national identity cards by November or latest December.
“We have concluded that it is time now we give Gambians the national identification cards they deserve. Cabinet has approved and the process is now in place and hopefully it will be completed very soon,” he told state TV recently.
He said with the consultations between the ministries of interior, finance and so forth, “very soon government will be engaging the key stakeholders who are involved in it, and then a national identification issuance should be in place, hopefully if all goes well, in this side of the year in November or latest December.”
Meanwhile, on refugees in the Gambia, Minister Fatty said: “We used to have about ten thousand refugees living in the country. Presently the figures have gone down precisely to seven thousand or so, for the past few months since this government came into existence, after our registration.”
“So, we are contributing significantly towards the protection, the management of refugees around the world with this kind of operation on our ground. We have refugees who are fully integrated into Gambian society. They live among communities,” he said.
He said notwithstanding they know the precise figures of the refugees living in the country, “because we have a very comprehensive registration system. Refugees are registered periodically, we have a profile, we know where they live, and we are working with UNHCR in The Gambia and also the regional office in Dakar.
“We granted them documentations, so that they can move freely, in short refugees in the Gambia live like Gambian citizens,” he said.
On what the government is doing for the returning migrants, Fatty said the government is not resting on its laurels.
“The government is working with its international partners, with the European Union in particular. To make sure that migration can be properly managed and then it can also serve the development interest of the Gambia,” he said.
The government, he said believes that the long term approach to migration should be in their encouraging of private sector growth in the Gambia, establishing businesses and enterprises, “that will help to scope indigenous economic growth, enabling young people to have jobs.”