By Juldeh Njie
Interior ministers of Spain and The Gambia have expressed a strong desire to work together to fight human trafficking and irregular migration.
Minister Mballow told journalists after a closed-door meeting with his Spanish counterpart that “security is very important to any country,” and as such, the two countries’ desire to work even closer to end human trafficking couldn’t have come at a better time.
He said after meeting with Fernando Grande-Marlaska, the Spanish Interior minister – to strengthen bilateral ties between the two countries: “We have also discussed on capacity building trainings. These delegates are here to strengthen partnership between the two countries.”
He said irregular migration and how to deal with it was also discussed as it remains “a call for concern because it is a global phenomenon.”
He said his government’s priority is to ensure that Gambian migrants’ “are safe”.
Fernando Grande-Marlaska said irregular migration should not be seen as “a problem but a challenge for everyone.
”…At the moment, we are not only worried about illegal immigration but also human trafficking. So it is not only illegal immigration but the impact of it we are worried about,” he said.
However, he said they are now close to finding a solution to the menace.
“That is why we want to build a strong cooperation between us. We don’t only want to talk about illegal immigration but also speak about security because we know that we have to get close cooperation for example in terms of information exchange, deal with organised crime among others”.
He said they are also interested in having Gambian officers in Spain to further strengthen the ties between the two countries.
“We have come here to enforce the mutual cooperation against illegal immigration but we want to strengthen the cooperation to fight against criminal organisations, international and transnational crimes”, Marlaska stated.
He said the two countries can also help each other in terms of logistics and trainings in order to get the “best result” in the fight against transnational crimes.
“When something is illegal, it is very difficult to make something good from it. Behind illegal migration exist criminal organisations, smugglers who don’t think of the benefit of the people. They traffic human beings. We can’t support something like that. We have to fight it,” he emphasised.
He said the collaboration between the two countries is “paramount and necessary” if they are serious about realising their development aspirations.
“We have to improve the development of The Gambia because this is the best way to fight against criminal organisations and crime.”
Speaking further on some of the risks associated with the perilous ‘backway’ journey, he added: “The condition of life in Libya and other routes to Europe is not the best. Most migrants suffer a lot before reaching Europe.”