By Juldeh Njie
The interior minister Mai Ahmad Fatty has promised refugees in Gambia a comfortable and secure life after escaping deadly circumstances to reach the country.
The interior minister was speaking recently at the commemoration of World Refugee Day organised by Gambia Food and Nutrition Association (GAFNA) in collaboration with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
“In The Gambia refugees will be cherished, loved and respected. You will find compassion and a government policy that will make it easier for you to settle,” he promised.
He urged the undocumented refugees to use the right channel to acquire citizenship to make their stay in the Gambia “fruitful and rewarding because the law is not discriminatory; it is there to protect everyone.
“There is no discrimination here; you can be who want to be. The opportunities are available in the New Gambia. If you are willing to work hard for it you can be successful in the Gambia.”
Fatty said refugees are no ordinary migrants unlike those who are going to other countries for economic reasons, “even they are refugees but the class of political refugees, those are the once we are celebrating today.”
He added that refugee life is not an easy one and vowed his ministry will work tirelessly to ensure the lives of refugees are transformed, secured and to ensure that they have a sense of belonging.
According to the officials, The Gambia host about 8,000 refugees fleeing instability from some of the African countries particularly within the sub-region.
In his welcoming remarks, Mayor of KMC Yankuba Colley, said refugees deserve better after escaping terrible conditions in their various countries.
“We recognize the challenges and hardship that refugees face; however we equally admire their courage to overcome those challenges and hardship,” he said.
He said protecting and assisting refugees is part of the nation’s history. “We will continue to welcome refugees and further alleviate their sufferings, because doing so reflect our Gambian values and traditions as a nation.”
Yusufa J. Gomez, executive director of GAFNA, said the commemoration of the World Refugees Day demonstrates the strong bond of partnership and support that exist between UNHCR and other development partners in the drive to making the refugees feel at home.
He said this year’s theme ‘we stand together #with refugees’ “reminds both the refugees and the hosts here in the Gambia that both UNHCR and governments, the world over including host communities are together with refugees in assisting them to live dignify and decent lives wherever they exist.”
He noted that majority of these refugees are faced with enormous challenges ranging from livelihood, health, social protection and so forth after departing their countries of origin in emergency situations.
Commissioner of Gambia Commission for Refugees (GCR), Hulay Jallow expressed delight for partaking in the important event, adding that Gambia has over the years accepted refugees in the country.
She said the commission is committed to working with all stakeholders in ensuring that the refugees feel at home and enjoy the fundamental human rights.
Sekou K Saho, head of office, UNHCR Banjul said fear and exclusion will not lead us to a better place they can only lead to barriers, alienation and despair.