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Wednesday, October 20, 2021

No Gambian among 500 killed in ‘back way’ boat

The incident comes days after a native of No Kunda village, Baddibu, North Bank Region gave birth to baby girl, Jambanding Jaiteh, who was erroneously referred to in the Italian media as “Yambete Yete” in a similar boat rescued by the Italian navy. 

Sheikh Musa Gaye, a Gambian trafficking agent based in Tripoli told The Standard in a telephone call yesterday: “We have heard that a boat carrying hundreds of people had capsized but we are not aware of the death of any Gambian. I know there are families back home who will be very worried as rumours stream out of Libya of their relatives. I can assure you that no Gambian died in that accident. 

“The security situation in this country [Libya] is bad and we find it difficult to access news on Gambians especially in cases like this. I don’t want to sound the alarm bell or cause further panic because many people here rely on rumours. The important thing is to convey to families in The Gambia that all is well with the boys. It is true that many Gambians and other nationals in this country face some serious challenges. I think these people [Gambians] need your support and prayers.”

A country on the edge

Human traffickers have been exploiting the political chaos and insecurity that has blighted Libya since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in an uprising in 2011. Since then, migrants have been streaming out of that country in boats and in rising numbers, on their way to Europe. Italian authorities said this week that more than 100,000 people had reached the country’s shores so far in 2014. 

According to some accounts, Libya’s coastguards mainly rely on inefficient fishing boats similar to the ones being used by migrants and tugs borrowed from the oil ministry. This makes it difficult for them to effectively track people. Many migrants who attempted to reach Europe in the recent past come mainly from north and western Africa including The Gambia. 

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