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City of Banjul
Monday, April 12, 2021

Irregular Migration: Prospects not media parade

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The hope of many Gambian youths of improved quality of life and their aspiration for youth-friendly Gambia, in terms of opportunities, appears to be dissipating fast.

When the majority of Gambians went to the polls in 2016 to change their government, the nation was pregnant with expectations, including hopes and burning desire for an end to the pathetic human resource loss The Gambia was experiencing as a consequence of thousands of its youths embarking on the dangerous land and sea journeys to Europe.

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Lack of prospects here has seen many Gambian youths enslaved, imprisoned, auctioned, brutally trafficked or even sent to their early graves as a result of the many boating accidents in the Mediterenean Sea or car accidents in the vast, desolate Sahara Desert as they attempted to migrate to Europe irregularly. Some had their dreams truncated by curable diseases whilst others by gunshot wounds for being at a wrong place and time in the war-torn Libya.

Hence, when this government took to the campaign trail nearly four years ago, its promise of digging a grave for the so-called Backway syndrome understandably resonated with the majority of parents who wanted to see their sons stay home and lead dignified lives.

But it would appear there is no end in sight to the nerve-wracking problem of Gambian youths ready to risk all to get to Europe.

In its Tuesday evening newscast, GRTS exposed a number of youths, including a Gambian to public shame and ridicule when it showed them to thousands of its viewers in the country and around the globe for being ‘intercepted’ at Barra whilst attempting a boat journey to Europe. Before this, a botched irregular journey to Europe, which also started in Barra, claimed around 50 young Gambian lives at the close of last year. At the time of piecing this editorial together, Gambian youths were still in Libya, hoping to cross over to Europe. Is this latest interception of irregular migrants in Barra a harbinger for the worst to come?

Be as it may, this is a shared shame and an embarrassment in a bigger, better package after successive governments, touting commitment to youths, showed their sheer inability to square up to the variables dangerously pushing youths out of their country.

A country with arable land and potential of feeding itself, ability to woo foreign direct investments in billions of dalasis, a tourism market of huge prospects, relatively minuscule population size, peace, stability, tranquility, potential for explosive growth in agriculture, abundance in human resources, among others, should not have her youths seeking greener pastures elsewhere when she can grow her greener pastures at her own backyard.

At 55, we are still unable to provide decent job opportunities for our citizens compounded by stymied economic growth with ripple consequences of widespread poverty and despair. At over 50, our youths still find it worth risking it to this Covid-19-hit Europe without giving two hoots to the ramifications.

This is just pathetic.

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