By Aisha Tamba &
Abdou Salaam Dampha
Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the protection and assisting of child migrants in The Gambia was last week validated.
The day-long national ratification workshop was supported by the IOM, under the Africa Regional Migration Program project, funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM), of the United States Government.
The goal is to assist government manage migration in a sustainable and humane manner.
The chief of mission of IOM The Gambia, Ms Fumiko Nagano, said the IOM has trained 51 (31 males, 20 females) government and civil society actors on migration-related topics on bilateral labour agreements, ethical recruitment standards, and labour exploitation.
She said the project also supported the development of a contingency plan on emergency migration management for West Coast Region and tested it through a simulation exercise to improve the Regional Disaster Management Committee’s capacity to prepare for and respond appropriately during crises while ensuring protection of vulnerable migrants.
She explained that the National Child Protection Strategy of The Gambia aims to ensure that all those engaged in child protection actions (whether in the formal or informal sector) have the knowledge, skills, and tools to carry out their responsibilities.
“To support this, IOM has been providing technical assistance to the Department of Social Welfare in developing SOPs on the protection and assistance of child migrants.
“Just to give you a background statistics, 16,500 migrant children arrived in Italy in 2015, 72 percent of the children were unaccompanied – IOM report (2017); 13.8 percent of the total population of refugees and UASC who arrived in Italy in 2016 and 2017, originated from The Gambia. This situation raises a need for protection and assistance for migrant children,” she said.
She added that the objectives of the SOPs is to provide step-by-step coordinated and standardised instructions to guide social workers carry out their interventions related to child migrants.
“General situation and potential risks faced by unaccompanied and separated children underscore the need to ensure their adequate protection and assistance in their migration pathway which makes the development of these SOPs relevant.”
The Head of Child Care Unit, Mariama Ceesay, admitted that the process of the formulation of the SOPs for the protection, return and reintegration of migrant children to The Gambia has been intensive.
“…The government of The Gambia has been committed in the development as its purpose is beneficial to strengthen the work practice of all respective stakeholders.”
She noted that the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare continues to reaffirm its commitment to creating a child-friendly environment and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.