BY Samsideen Ceesay
International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in partnership with The Gambia Red Cross Society recently held a humanitarian youth conference on illegal migration.
The event which was held at Sifoe Senior Secondary School was earmarked to sensitise the Red Cross campers on youth illegal migration and the role of the IOM in curbing it.
Speaking at the event, the programme communication officer, IOM, Marianna Bertelle, said The Gambia is one of Africa’s smallest countries, with a population of about 2 million.
Currently, she added, it is ranked among the most common nationalities undertaking the Central Mediterranean route to Europe.
She stated: “Our specific objective is to support The Gambia to improve the reintegration of returning migrants and to strengthen national structures and capabilities in terms of managing reintegration in a dignified and sustainable manner”.
She pointed out that the external emigration trends has increased significantly, and the number of Gambians living abroad increased approximately 35,000 in 2000.
She disclosed that officially, 90,000 Gambians are living outside of the country; half of them reside in the United States, Spain or the United Kingdom.
“The 1994 military coup – during which former President Yahya Jammeh took power caused an increase in asylum seekers, and so it prompted the United Kingdom and other European countries to require Gambians to obtain a visa before travelling.”
Also speaking at the event, the acting secretary general, Gambia Red Cross Society, Buba Darboe, noted that the humanitarian youth conference on migration was significant as it would avail the participants to have an in-depth idea on the activities carried out by the International Organisation for Migration in tackling migration trends in the world.
“I thank the management of Gambia Red Cross Society and the entire Red Cross fraternity for the success of the humanitarian youth bantaba on migration”.